The College patron, Dom Rosendo Salvado was an inspirational missionary, educator, bishop and pioneer colonist who founded the community of New Norcia. The College’s motto “Peace, Justice, Compassion” directly reflects Salvado’s life work and is our vision for the College.
Dom Salvado wrote ‘The 1st March is a memorable day for me for four reasons – It is my birthday, it’s my feast day, it’s my first Mass day and it’s New Norcia’s foundation day’.
The first fifty years of New Norcia’s history are dominated by the towering figure of Bishop Rosendo Salvado (1814-1900). Salvado spent 54 years of his life making New Norcia one of the most progressive and successful missions in Australian history. As a Benedictine monk, he had pledged himself to a life-long journey of “conversion of life” aimed at creating better individuals and communities. Salvado’s original vision was to create, among the Aboriginal people of the Victoria Plains, a Christian, largely self-sufficient village based on agriculture.
However, after the decimation of the local populations by introduced diseases in the 1860’s, he concentrated his activity on giving a practical education to the Aboriginal children who were brought to New Norcia from all over the state. Like other missionaries of the nineteenth century, his aim was to ‘civilise and evangelise’ according to the European ideals of the time, but he did so with sympathy for Aboriginal culture that was rare in his day. Salvado assumed he had something good to offer and he intended to bring about change in the life of the people he encountered.
Salvado led a monastic community, which, at its height, numbered seventy men, most of whom were Spaniards and lay brothers. His several fundraising trips to Europe provided him with the means to acquire land, to construct buildings and to purchase books, vestments, art works and ritual objects as well as stock and equipment. Practical success and his own personal charm combined to make Salvado both a notable Western Australian and an international figure in the Benedictine world.
Sadly, in 1900 during a trip to Rome, Salvado became ill and died at the age of eighty-six at the Monastery of St Paul Outside the Walls. His body was brought back to New Norcia by the community and interred in the Abbey Church where it rests today.
To commemorate the Bicentenary year of Rosendo Salvado’s birth in 2014, a commemorative booklet was compiled to share his life story. Please Click Here to have a read of the souvenir booklet.