Since it’s the month of Halloween, I thought I would present some eerie myths of Saint Vincent in this installment of my blog. I recall hearing a lot of legends and ghost stories surrounding Saint Vincent College when I was a student here many years ago. In fact, one rumor that spread around my friends stated that SVC was the third most haunted college campus in America. This seems like a very specific number for an attribute that I don’t think can possibly be measured accurately, but this was a story going around at that time.
Regardless of whether this statistic is accurate or not, I do remember having some moderately strange experiences occur on campus when I was a student. I recall living in Aurelius Hall as a freshman and hearing basketballs being dribbled and the sound of footsteps outside my door when no one was there. Sometimes things would seemingly fall off the shelves at random times in my dorm room, too.
Fast forward nearly twenty years and now my office is in Aurelius Hall (in fact, my office is the former dorm room of one of my best friends!). Sometimes strange things still happen here. In fact, something bizarre just happened a few days ago. There is an award on my shelf that appears to be pretty sturdy and sits far from the edge. One morning when I came in, I noticed that it had fallen on the floor overnight. The impact caused the plaque to separate from the wood on which it was glued. While I was waiting for an order of super glue to be delivered so I could fix it, I arrived in my office one morning to find that it was already put back together. I first thanked Mary Jo (who cleans Aurelius Hall and often fixes things that she finds broken in my office after hours) for taking care of the plaque. But she told me that she did not fix my award. Then I asked everyone I know who has a key to my office if they fixed it for me and none of them did. Weird.
The recent experience in my office got me thinking about ghost stories and legends of Saint Vincent. So, I reached out to SVC connections of mine on social media to ask them to share their experiences regarding this matter. Here are some of the interesting responses that I received:
- Julia mentioned a legend (originating from decades ago) about a monk who died when he got his robes caught in the Gristmill. About eight years ago, she and some friends were walking by this part of campus and heard strange noises coming from inside.
- Randi provided me with information about a particular statue in the cemetery. According to the story, the statue has red eyes that follow people as they walk through at night.
- An anonymous alumnus told me that he heard footsteps running on the top floor of his dorm though no one lived there because that area had been locked up for years, assumedly due to an earlier fire.
- Another anonymous graduate told me that his sink (in Wimmer Hall) turned on by itself at full force while he was lying in bed. This individual also reported that two friends kept hearing something like the sound of a bowling bowl being rolled on the floor above them but, when they went to check it out, found nothing.
In 1996, students in Dr. Phyllis Riddle’s Sociology 107 course compiled a list of many Saint Vincent legends and ghost stories. Some of the stories that they researched are shockingly very similar to the ones provided by my own social media connections. One of the stories in the compilation was even about a ghostly inhabitant of Aurelius Hall 503 – my old freshmen dorm room! There are a number of really interesting stories that Dr. Riddle’s students found. Some highlights are below:
- A tentacled monster reportedly lives in a stream in the woods near Saint Vincent.
- There is a legend that Saint Vincent founder Archabbot Boniface Wimmer wanders the campus on the anniversary of his passing (other versions report the date to be that of his birthday). Some versions of the story interestingly note that his spirit only passes through red doors.
- Following Christmas Eve vigil, strange noises, singing and other unexplained events have been said to occur in the Basilica.
- There are numerous stories of apparitions of deceased monks that roam campus.
These are but a few of the stories included in the students’ compilation. I have heard that others on campus are experts in the area of Saint Vincent’s myths and legends and I would love to hear more about them.
Do you believe these legends? If you are an alumnus or current student of Saint Vincent, have you ever had any similar experiences? I’d love to hear your stories! Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and LinkedIn.
I also now have a Twitter account, so please connect with me there as well!
Dr. Mike Urick