Thursday, April 10, 2014

“Deriving Beauty”: an Exhibition on Aurelius Stehle, OSB

The St. Vincent Gallery, on the campus of St Vincent Archabbey and College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, is holding an exhibition to celebrate Archabbot Aurelius Stehle, who lead the oldest Benedictine monastery in the United States from 1918 until his death in 1930, and was the author of a well-regarded Manual of Episcopal Ceremonies. The assistant to the gallery director and creator of the display, Mr. Jordan Hainsey, has written this summary of Archabbot Stehle’s life.
Aurelius Stehle was born in Pittsburgh in 1877, and as a child moved with his family to Greensburg, Pennsylvania. There he attended the parochial school attached to the Benedictine church of the Most Blessed Sacrament and at the age of thirteen entered the scholasticate at Saint Vincent. Completing his studies at the college and seminary in 1899, Aurelius Stehle was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Richard Phelan of Pittsburgh and for the next nineteen years served at the archabbey in various capacities, first as professor in the classical (college) course, and then, after 1911, as prefect and professor of Latin and Greek in the seminary. He was an accomplished Latinist and for twenty-five years (since his novitiate) had also been master of ceremonies in the monastery, in which capacity he had overseen the monastic celebrations of the liturgy. Aurelius was instrumental in the implementation of Pope Saint Pius X’s 1903 “motu proprio” (Tre le sollecitudini) on church music that restored Gregorian chant to the monastic liturgy. Throughout this time, Aurelius gained a reputation both at Saint Vincent and among churchmen throughout the United States as an expert on liturgy and was often sought out by diocesan liturgists around the country for advice on liturgical matters. In 1915 Aurelius published his “Manual for Episcopal Ceremonies.” While other such manuals were in circulation, this manual was lauded for its clarity and ability to be used and understood by sacristans, masters of ceremonies, seminarians, priests, and bishops. Bishop Canevin of Pittsburgh noted, “[Aurelius] has...not sacrificed clearness for the sake of brevity, nor has he spared labor in his endeavors to find the most reliable interpretations of obscure and doubtful points.”
This display at the Saint Vincent Gallery brings together Aurelius’ “Manual of Episcopal Ceremonies,” letters of correspondence, and liturgical items worn and used by him that highlight the beauty and splendor of the liturgy, as well as his role in the proper celebration of liturgical rites. For more information, visit:
Corpus Christ Procession, 1920

Some of the liturgical items used by Archabbot Stehle, including a copy of his Manual of Episcopal Ceremonies.

A portrait of Archabbot Stehle
A Solemn Profession at St Vincent in 1920

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