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Father Cyprian Davis

"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."

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.

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. 

Books by Father Cyprian Davis

  • History of Black Catholics in the United States
  • Taking Down Our Harps: Black Catholics in the United States Diana L. Hayes; (Editor) Cyprian Davis (Editor)
  • Stamped With the Image of God: African Americans As God's Image in Black
  • The Church: A Living Heritage


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