[CUA Office of Public Affairs]           

Church Historian to Receive Medal and Deliver Lecture on Black Catholics


The Rev. Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., a professor of church history at St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Ind., has been selected as the 2002 recipient of Catholic University’s Johannes Quasten Medal for Excellence in Scholarship and Leadership in Religious Studies.


The Rev. Stephen Happel, dean of CUA’s School of Religious Studies, will present the award to Davis on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 5:30 p.m. in the Life Cycle Institute Auditorium at Catholic University, located at 620 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C.


"Father Cyprian Davis has been the single most important leader in historical studies of the African-American Catholic Church in the United States,” said Happel, who also is a former student of the Benedictine priest and professor. “Father Davis has recovered a story that was largely hidden from public view.  His lifelong commitment to recording the African American riches that have been lost to us not only has told us about the diversity of Catholic life in this country, but has restored their potential for our future as a Church.  His work has been sheer grace for our Catholic community."


After accepting his award, Davis will present the lecture “Opening the Doors of History: Black Catholics in America and a Forgotten Past.” The award ceremony and lecture are free and open to the public. For more information, call 202-319-5683.


Established in 1985 as the only academic award given by CUA’s School of Religious Studies, the Quasten Medal is named after the Rev. Johannes Quasten, a professor of religious studies who taught at CUA for more than 30 years until his retirement in 1979. Quasten published more than 100 books and articles and is mostly known for his four-volume “Patrology,” a standard reference in the field of ancient church history and historical theology.


Davis has written numerous books and articles in the area of monastic history and the history and spirituality of African American Catholics in the United States.  In 1990 he published “The History of Black Catholics in the United States.  (New York: Crossroad), which received the John Gilmary Shea Award in 1991. 


Most recently he published  “Some Reflections on African American Spirituality” in U.S. Catholic Historian, 10(2001): 7-14 and “Black Catholic Theology: A Historical Perspective” in Theological Studies, 61(2000): 656-71.


Currently, Davis is a professor of Church history in the St Meinrad School of Theology.   He also is a professor of history at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. 


In 1994-1995, he served as a visiting professor of Church history at the Monastic Studium established in West Africa at the Abbey of Dzogbégan in Togo and the Abbey of Koubri in Burkina Faso.  He was as visiting professor at the Abbey of Keur Moussa in Senegal in 1995-1996, and at the Benedictine and Trappist monasteries in Nigeria in 1997-1998.  He also has lectured on the development of monastic archives  in monasteries of men and women in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Togo in West Africa. 


Davis is a longtime scholar and monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey.  He was professed in 1951 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1956.  He received a licentiate of sacred theology degree from The Catholic University of America in 1957, and a doctorate in history at the University of Louvain in Belgium in 1977.


A native of Washington, D.C., Davis attended the public schools of the District of Columbia, graduating from Dunbar High School in 1948. 

MEDIA: Those interested in covering the event must contact Chris Harrison or

    Victor Nakas at 202-319-5600.




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Revised: Feb. 18, 2002

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