Foundation of Benedictus and the story so far


Benedictus began in 2010, as a result of discussions and conversations between academics and educators based in London. The founders of the project, all parishioners of the London Oratory church, were inspired by Pope Benedict XVI's call for a "New Evangelisation" in Europe through education and his visit to Britain for the beatification of the great 19th century intellectual and educator Cardinal John Henry Newman, who founded the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in England.

Dr Clare Hornsby, now Acting Director of Benedictus, initiated work on the project with Mr Franz Forrester and the fruit of discussions between them resulted in the drafting of the Matters of Principle in early 2011, a document that owes much to Newman's Idea of a University and acknowledges the "Blue Book", the foundation text of Thomas Aquinas College, California. With academic colleagues and fellow Founding Trustees Keith Stanfield and Timothy O'Callaghan, they worked on the strategy and the direction of the project from its inception.

In early 2011 Benedictus Trust was formed as a charity registered in England and Wales and formed as a non-profit company. The trustees are Clare Hornsby, Timothy O'Callaghan, Uwe Michael Lang, Thomas D'Andrea and Jean-Pierre Casey. The Trust exists to safeguard the founding principles of Benedictus and will appoint the Director of Benedictus College of the Liberal Arts.

In 2012 the Academic Team (now the Academic Advisory Committee) began regular meetings to discuss the curriculum and to create the structural documents necessary for the accreditation of the course and recognition of Benedictus by the UK government. The accreditation process is ongoing and it is hoped that this will be in place by the end of 2014.

The members of the Trust have undertaken several strands of activity over the last three years; building a network of academic and other contacts across the UK , Europe and the USA; spreading awareness and fundraising, speaking at academic conferences and making presentations to schools. Our work continues as we move towards our operational phase, opening with the Foundation Programme based in London and Italy as soon as our accreditation and funding are in place.

The Benedictus identity

The unique Benedictus identity has been formed by recognising that the intellectual culture of Christian Europe is best studied hand in hand with its artistic culture, since the human spirit has always expressed its search for truth through the fine arts and literature as well as through the texts of the masters of philosophy and theology. No other liberal arts course places such emphasis on this bond.

Clare Hornsby's academic background and current work interests lie in art and cultural history and she is committed to the creation of a truly meaningful interdisciplinarity in humanistic education, where the central role of Christianity is given its rightful place as the unifying factor in the development of European civilisation. This approach, combined with the insistence on the central role of the perennial philosophical tradition embraced by her co-founder, has made Benedictus unique amongst liberal arts colleges worldwide.