The church at Belmont Abbey, completed in 1893, was once the only abbey cathedral in the nation. In 1998 it was named a Minor Basilica by Rome, a rare Papal honor. Located on the 650-acre campus of Belmont Abbey College, its beautiful painted-glass windows won a gold prize at the Colombian Exposition in 1893. The college's central campus has been designated an historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
The church contains a stone baptismal font which, according to local legend, was first used by American Indians in the area, and then as a block upon which slaves were sold. When the monks arrived in 1876, they named the monastery "Mariastein" (Mary stone) in recognition of the stone's prominence. Later, after renovation of the church, Abbot Walter Coggin, O.S.B., proposed the adaptation of the stone into a baptismal font. He had it marked with a plaque reading, "Upon this rock, men once were sold into slavery. Now upon this rock, through the waters of Baptism, men become free children of God."
Belmont Abbey College is a private, coeducational Catholic liberal arts college offering undergraduate degrees in 17 major areas of study. The campus is shared with Belmont Abbey, a Benedictine monastery which began in 1876, founded the college, and now includes about 20 monks. Its members pray and work together according to the teachings of the Gospel and the wisdom of Saint Benedict, who lived 1500 years ago.
- Street: 100 Belmont-Mt. Holly Rd.
- City: Belmont, NC
- Telephone: Historic Tours: 704-461-6693, Athletics Events: 704-461-6809, Campus Tours: 704-825-6890, 704-825-6665
- Hours: Individual/family visitors are welcome, but due to the ongoing activities of the college and the monastery, small group tours must arrange for a tour guide or arrival time in advance. Bus tours and other large groups are not permitted.
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