Saint Leo Abbey
Entrance to the abbey church on Saint Leo University campus
|Location||Pasco County, Florida St. Leo, Florida|
|Area||100 acres (0.40 km2)|
|Architectural style||Italian Romanesque|
|NRHP reference No.||97001637|
|Added to NRHP||January 7, 1998|
Saint Leo Abbey, located in Pasco County, Florida, traces its beginnings to 1882 when Judge Edmund F. Dunne founded the Catholic Colony of San Antonio. Sent by Archabbot Boniface Wimmer of Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Father Gerard Pilz, O.S.B., arrived in 1886 as the first Benedictine in Florida. He was dispatched to Florida in response to a request by Bishop John Moore of St. Augustine for a German-speaking priest to minister to the growing German-immigrant population of the colony.
In 1888, Saint Vincent Archabbey transferred ministry to the colony to Mary Help of Christians Abbey in Belmont, North Carolina. In February 1889, Benedictine nuns arrived from Allegheny, Pennsylvania and founded Holy Name Monastery.
Abbot Leo Haid of Belmont Abbey made the arrangements to establish Saint Leo College, now Saint Leo University. On June 4, 1889 both Saint Leo College and the Benedictine mission that would later become Saint Leo Abbey were founded on lands conveyed to the Order of Saint Benedict by Judge Dunne. Saint Leo became an independent priory in 1894 and was elevated to an abbey on September 25, 1902 by Pope Leo XIII.
In addition to providing priests for the churches of the Catholic Colony, the monks went on to establish Catholic parishes in not only nearby Dade City, but also Zephyrhills, New Port Richey, Brooksville Crystal River and Ocala. They even established parishes as far away as Farmingdale, NY and Cuba. In the early part of the 20th century, St. Leo's Benedictines monks could be found in churches and missions throughout the northern half of peninsular Florida. Saint Leo Abbey also sent missionaries to Argentina in the second half of the 20th century. St. Leo continued to supply priests for Catholic congregations throughout Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties until the last decade of the 20th century.
The sixth and current Abbot of Saint Leo is Right Rev. Isaac Camacho.
Abbot Francis Sadlier commissioned an abbey church to be built in 1935. The Church was designed by Tampa architect Frank Parziole in the Romanesque style. The Church of the Holy Cross was consecrated on January 29, 1948 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 as part of the St Leo Abbey Historic District.
On January 7, 1998, the St. Leo Abbey Historic District was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The district is in St. Leo, Florida on the campus of Saint Leo University, located at 33701 SR 52. It encompasses 100 acres (0.40 km2), and contains three historic buildings.
The following individuals have served as Abbots of Saint Leo Abbey:
|Charles Mohr, O.S.B.||1902 – 1931|
|Francis Sadlier, O.S.B.||1929 – 1954 (Coadjutor Abbot, 1929 - 1931)|
|Marion Bowman, O.S.B.||1954 – 1969|
|Fidelis Dunlap, O.S.B.||1970 – 1985|
|Patrick Shelton, O.S.B.||1985 – 1996|
|several administrators||1996 – 2007|
|Isaac Camacho, O.S.B.||2007 – present|
As of 2019, the monks, from all over the U.S., range in age from twenty-three to seventy-four.