Drawing of the Abbey of St. Victor

A 12th Century Model

By YTI Staff

February 2017 Inscribed

How the Abbey of St. Victor provides a template for ministry training in the 21st century

To find a model for ministry training in the 21st century, YTI looked to the 12th century Abbey of St. Victor, which was located outside Paris.

The abbey’s founder, William of Champeaux, and his successor, Hugh of St. Victor, believed that education could not simply be the transmission of knowledge. Rather, it must be an integration of subjects with immediate application in the world.

William of Champeaux, one of the most accomplished scholars of his day, left the University of Paris behind and went to the outskirts of the city to the Abbey of St. Victor. Although he originally was not trying to found a school, some of his students followed him to the abbey. The early students learned with their professors in lectures and in service to the community. The school became renowned for producing priests and friars that were theologically astute, as well as leaders that were compassionate, critical, and creative. They learned, worshiped, and lived life together.

Students at St. Victor’s not only studied the field of Aristotelian logic so popular in Paris, but they also studied the subjects of theology, scripture, science, and the arts. They worked the abbey fields, tended the livestock, worshiped together, and ministered to the surrounding community.

This is YTI’s model. Although one never can recover the past, we can glean from it insights for our times. The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) is the cornerstone “Master” degree that has roots in the days of William of Champeaux. Like Champeaux and the Abbey of St. Victor, YTI is moving beyond the walls of comfortable cultural Christianity and preparing adventurers to lead the church in this brave, new world.

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