Portsmouth Abbey School

Portsmouth, Rhode Island | C.1926

Photo Credit: Stuart Lemay

When Dom Leonard Sargent dropped a medal of St. Benedict in a field along the shores of Narragansett Bay, it was no accident. In fact, it was a very intentional, albeit superstitious, act as the Benedictine monk was looking for a property to build a monastery, and the sacred medal is known to ward off evil. Eight years later, the Portsmouth Abbey School was built on that same property.

Comprising of 27 buildings on a 500-acre campus, the Abbey’s grounds are renowned for its architecture. Fourteen of the campus buildings were designed by famed modernist architect Pietro Belluschi, and the Abbey’s Church of St. Gregory is considered the most significant example of conservative modernist architecture in Rhode Island.

Established by John Hugh Diman, a Benedictine monk who had a knack for opening schools as he had already Diman’s School for Small Boys nearly thirty years earlier, the Benedictine boarding school embraces a curriculum rooted in the English Benedictine tradition – an educational approach established by Benedict monks over 1,500 years ago.

Beloved by the Catholic Church, St. Benedict of Nursia is venerated for his establishment of several orders of monks, and authorship of The Rule of Saint Benedict, a rulebook for monks living under an abbot.

Since its early days as a school for boys, Portsmouth Abbey School has evolved into a leading educational institution that still honors its religious traditions. In 1991, the Abbey introduced coeducational classes and later recommitted itself to its Western intellectual curriculum dating back to Ancient Greece.

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