Jesuits in Florissant

Saint Stanislaus Seminary, established in 1823 and located in Florissant, Missouri, was the longest continually operating Jesuit novitiate (religious training) in the United States. 

In 1818, Bishop Louis William DuBourg of New Orleans acquired 212 acres in the Florissant near Howdershell and Charbonier. This land became known as the “Bishop’s Farm.” DuBourg's plan was for a farm to would raise revenues for the diocese.  In 1819, a convent/school was built on the on the property for Philippine Duchesne to start a convent, day school, and boarding school.  

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Bishop's Farm, photo courtesy of The Library of Congress

DuBourg required more priests to serve as missionaries to Native American tribes in the upper and lower Louisiana territory. He petitioned the Jesuits at Georgetown University to provide him with men to serve in his diocese. Twelve Jesuits, accompanied by black slaves, traveled from Maryland to their new headquarters at Bishop’s Farm in Florissant in 1823 on Howdershell Road.

In 1825, the Jesuits of Florissant opened Saint Francis Regis Indian Seminary, a school for Native American boys, which the Jesuits hoped would act as guides for missionaries.

The Native American school was closed in 1830.

The original log buildings of the seminary were replaced as the seminary continued to grow.  These buildings served as residents and school facilities:

  • 1840: The Rock Building 

  • 1871: Holy Rosary Church 

  • 1873: The Novitiate Building

  • 1897: The Tertian building 

  • 1899: The Juniorate Building

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The Rock Building

Photo courtesy of: Rome of the West

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Photo courtesy of MO State Parks

Photo courtesy of MO State Parks

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The Seminary was self-sustaining and included an orchard, chicken ranch, cattle barn, wheat fields, vineyards, butcher shop, creamery, and bakery. Saint Stanislaus would remain self-sufficient through the Great Depression and World War II.

Saint Stanislaus Seminary was closed in 1971, due to a drop in the number of men seeking a religious vocation at the end of the 1960s, and the property was sold to Urshan College. In 1973, the Rock Building, the only part of the property retained by the Jesuits, was turned into the Museum of Western Jesuit Missions. This museum closed in 2001.

Source: The Jesuit Archives