March 30, 2021

Benedictine Monk to Speak at Valparaiso University on Religious Manuscript Rescue

WHO: Father Columba Stewart of St. John’s University will speak on a project that digitizes threatened religious manuscripts from around the world in order to preserve them. Father Stewart has been a monk at St. John’s Abbey since 1981 and is director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library there. His work has led to the digitization and cataloging of more than 200,000 endangered Christian and Islamic manuscripts in libraries around the world, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Stewart has published widely in the fields of eastern and western Christian monastic history and is the recipient of several national awards, including being named the Jefferson Lecturer by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2019.

The scholarly lecture is sponsored by Valpo’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter through the national organization’s Visiting Scholar program. Founded in 1776, the Phi Beta Kappa Society honors academic excellence and outstanding scholarly achievement in the liberal arts and sciences. Valparaiso University has sheltered a Phi Beta Kappa chapter since 2004 and each year initiates senior and junior students with outstanding academic records in the liberal arts and sciences.

WHAT: Titled “What a (Modern) Monk Does: Saving the World’s Manuscript Heritage from Imminent Danger,” Stewart’s talk will discuss a project to digitize manuscripts across religious traditions in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A.

Students will also have the opportunity to engage with the scholar outside of the public lecture as he will be visiting some classes during his time at Valpo.

WHEN: Monday, April 12, 6 p.m.

WHERE: The event will take place on Zoom and is open to the public, but reservations are required.

CONTACT: Register at