O'Neill, Sara Benedicta

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Lay apostle; b. Chicago, Ill., March 17, 1869; d. Chicago, Jan. 11, 1954. She studied romance languages at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and, much later, library science at the University of Chicago. She taught for 35 years at Tilden Public High School in Chicago. Through her friendship with Ellen Gates Starr, a convert and a coworker of Jane Addams of Hull House, she acquired an admiration for the Benedictines and the contributions they had made through their libraries. During her life she made five trips to the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino in Italy and also visited the monasteries of Maria Laach and Beuron in Germany.

She was professed as an oblate of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino on Aug. 4, 1902. At that time she conceived the idea of a library that would serve the cultural, religious, and intellectual interests of people in the Loop of Chicago. She spent the next 25 years interesting her friends and associates in the project. The St. Benedict Library, finally established on Oct. 30, 1931, became a rendezvous for writers and intellectuals and afforded them an opportunity to meet informally. She was also known as an apostle of the liturgical movement when the phrase was hardly known to most lay Catholics.

[e. v. cardinal]

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