In 1867 four Sisters of St. Benedict arrived in Ferdinand, Indiana, from a monastery in Kentucky to teach in the parish school. By the 1870s, with over 70 sisters working at a boarding school they had started for girls in Ferdinand, the group became independent of the Kentucky monastery. Today the Monastery Immaculate Conception is one of the largest communities of Benedictine sisters in the United States, and the Romanesque-style domed monastery they live in is celebrating its 150th anniversary. We recently visited the Monastery Immaculate Conception, where Sister Christine gave us a brief history of the monastery and took us on a tour of what some call the “castle on the hill.”
Monastery Immaculate Conception History
Sister Christine used a model of the monastery to point out the quadrangle that was the original monastery, as well as all of the wings that were added later.
By 1914 the sisters had outgrown the small church that was part of the monastery. The monastery superior contacted 21-year-old St. Louis architect Victor Klutho and asked him to draw up plans for a new church. He had the plans done within a month. However, the sisters didn’t have the money to build a church. So they saved up, sometimes eating only one meal a day to save money. They received some generous donations, and they borrowed money. The church exterior construction started in 1915 and was completed 14 months later. Then they ran out of money, so the interior was put on hold. For eight years they worshiped in a big, empty space below what would be their church. The interior of the church was finally started in 1922 and completed two years later.
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In 2005 they did an extensive restoration of the church. Although they mostly restored the church to its original splendor, they made a handful of changes to better accommodate the sisters’ needs.
Monastery Immaculate Conception Church Tour
The photos show more than I can tell…
For Heaven’s Sake
For Heaven’s Sake, the monastery gift shop, sells hand-crafted items made by the sisters in the monastery, as well as items from Peru and Guatemala, where they have missions. We picked up a box of assorted cookies, which included Hildegard cookies.
If You Visit Monastery Immaculate Conception
Monastery Immaculate Conception. located at 802 E 10th Street in Ferdinand, Indiana, offers guided tours Tuesday through Sunday. Check the web site for tour times, directions, mass times, and other details.
Accommodations: We stayed at the Hampton Inn Jasper during our visit to Dubois County. Find the best hotel deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.
Disclosures: Visit Dubois County hosted my Dubois County visit. However, any opinions expressed in this article are my own.
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