Minnesota monk to deliver prestigious lecture in Washington

(October 7, 2019)

A Benedictine monk and scholar at Minnesota’s St. John’s University will deliver a lecture Monday evening in Washington — a prestigious national honor for his work preserving historical religious texts.

Father Columba Stewart said he was "blown away" when he received the news in July that he had been selected to deliver the 2019 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities.

Stewart is executive director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s in Collegeville, Minn. He's the first Minnesotan to be awarded the honor by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The NEH calls the Jefferson Lecture "the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement."

"It means a privileged opportunity to talk about the work we do at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library," he said. "To make a plea for mutual understanding, for taking the time to learn about people who seem to be different than us in religion and ways of thinking and politics. I think that's a message we need to hear."

Past Jefferson Lecturers include Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, Ken Burns and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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