Chair of Catholic Studies Lecture to Feature Fr. Columba Stewart


A monk and scholar known for preserving historic, handwritten manuscripts will present the St. Ambrose University Chair of Catholic Studies Lecture.

Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, is director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. His presentation, "What a (modern) monk does: Digital Preservation of Manuscripts from the Earth's Most Threatened Communities," begins at 7 p.m. March 21, in the Rogalski Center Ballroom.

The event is free and open to the public.

father Columba Stewart, courtesy of

What a (modern) monk does: Digital Preservation of Manuscripts from the Earth's Most Threatened Communities

Delivered by Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB

March 21, 7 p.m. | Rogalski Center Ballroom

HMML has photographed 140,000-plus manuscript books dating from the ancient to early modern era, giving priority to collections of persecuted or endangered minorities. Since 2003, Fr. Stewart has led the expansion of HMML's preservation projects in more than a dozen countries.

"I'll be speaking about our work ensuring that the contents of pre-modern handwritten books are safe no matter what might happen to them because of war, persecution, emigration and other threats," Fr. Stewart told The Catholic Messenger. "Almost everything we know about the past is written in manuscripts."

Micah Kiel, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Theology Department, studied at HMML during a 2015 sabbatical and invited Fr. Stewart to lecture. "When he discusses HMML's efforts to preserve manuscripts, you learn a lot about complexities in our world," Kiel said.

"His lecture is an opportunity to learn about what is going on right now, especially in some very war-torn countries, and what that means for the religious communities in these places."It will be a fascinating, engaging and challenging presentation, and I think it will make people view the world differently," Kiel said.

Click here to read The Catholic Messenger story.

Click here to learn more about the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library.

Click here to read or watch the "60 Minutes" piece on Fr. Stewart, "The Manuscript Saved by a Monk."

Click here to read a Harvard Magazine feature on Fr. Stewart, "From Here to Timbuktu."

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