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Home > Essentia Health Foundation > Impact Like Nowhere Else > Foundation News > A Meaningful Gift from the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica
Published on October 05, 2021
“This gift is a visual reminder of the hospital’s Benedictine and Catholic heritage,” summarizes Sister Beverly, “but also a reminder of our continued commitment to St. Mary’s well into the future.”
In 1888, St. Mary’s Hospital was established by a small group of Benedictine Sisters. Since then, virtually every aspect of modern medicine has evolved—yet the hospital’s heritage remains.
As Essentia’s Vision Northland project transforms its downtown medical campus for the 21st century, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery are still the official Catholic sponsor of the hospital. They’ve stepped forward with a leadership gift—a stained-glass installation in St. Mary’s Chapel—that pays tribute to the hospital’s religious roots. This generous gift carries rich significance, linking sacred places to the healing spaces being created within the new Duluth campus.
We sat down with Sister Beverly, the prioress at St. Scholastica Monastery, to learn the significance of this beautiful stained-glass art piece and understand how their support links back to many of their enduring Benedictine values.
Care of the Sick
Care of the sick is expressly prioritized in Chapter 36 of The Rule of St. Benedict. “Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ.” Therefore, the Sisters’ gift to Vision Northland supports a healthcare experience that is both high-quality and grounded in that ideal.
The stained glass will be visible from both the inside and outside of the Chapel—drawing people into a welcoming space and inviting them to sacred moments like meditation and prayer. Yet, the Benedictine value of hospitality extends beyond physical spaces. It is also a commitment of respect to all people (another Benedictine value) when offering hospitality and care.
“St. Mary’s is dedicated to caring for patients no matter their ability to pay. Their expansive charity care matches our community’s dedication to the care of the poor, vulnerable and marginalized. The campus resides in the heart of Duluth allowing us to serve all people,” explains Sister Beverly.
Prayer and Work
A motto of St. Benedict's was ora et labora. The Latin phrase with a catchy rhythm translates as instruction to pray and work. Prayer provides inspiration and support for work that serves the greater needs of one’s community.
Herself a prior nurse educator, Sister Beverly reminds us that St. Mary’s and St. Scholastica Monastery have always shared a dedication to continued learning and a pioneering spirit. “St. Mary’s has always operated with innovation, performing some of the first surgeries of their kinds,” recalls Sister Beverly. Similarly, the Vision Northland project will be a cutting-edge facility to serve today’s healthcare needs.
Finally, the stained-glass window is intended to create a connection to transcendence for visitors to the hospital chapel. “Beauty attracts and directs you beyond yourself, to God,” explains Sister Beverly. “That’s why stained glass is very common in our living spaces. Beauty leads you to something greater.”
Sister Beverly was intimately involved in the committee selection of the stained-glass art. The group asked several artists to render their interpretation of St. Scholastica’s final meeting with her brother, Benedict, three days before her death.
“We were immediately drawn to Scott Parson’s interpretation of a loving embrace,” says Sister Beverly. “We want visitors to put themselves into the scene and interpret the image of the embrace for their current season of life—whether they’ve lost a loved one, received disappointing news or are experiencing fellowship, gratitude or celebration.”
The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica have thoughtfully offered a gift that will be enjoyed by the sick, their loved ones and hospital staff. They hope that it will draw visitors in with hospitality while inviting moments of inspiration and reflection—creating an oasis for spiritual growth and healing.
If the generosity of the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery has inspired you, learn more about Vision Northland or make a gift at essentiahealth.org/vision-northland
Visit our Give a Gift page and select from our list of Essentia Health campaigns and local foundations.