The Founding of SBU


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Nicholas' parents were devote Catholics who instilled their beliefs onto their children.  Nicholas carried these principles with him when he came to America.  In fact, it is said that after Nicholas arrived he attended mass in New York City and when the donation plate came to him he donated one of only three gold pieces he had remaining in his possession. When someone asked him if he was positive he wanted to make a donation he claimed it was to give thanks to God for a safe passage from Europe.

Nicholas held his beliefs close to his heart all his life and was always working to help improve the Catholic Church.  In 1819 Nicholas and his brother John helped establish the first Roman Catholic church west of Albany when they became the main benefactors of St. John's Church in Utica. Prior to the establishment of St. John's, Roman Catholic services in Utica were held at John Devereux's house in Utica.

During a business trip to Hartford in 1829 Nicholas helped out a desperate group of Catholics by giving them the money they needed to purchase a church building.

It was partially because of Nicholas' steadfast religious beliefs and partially because of his interest in Western New York that St. Bonaventure University came to be.  Due to Nicholas' land holdings in Western New York and his interest in opening up the country with new railroads he saw the need for more churches in the area to accommodate railroad workers.  Nicholas became very good friends with Bishop Timon of Buffalo and helped him establish several churches in and around that city.

Bishop Timon.
In 1854 Devereux traveled to Rome with his wife and a letter written by Bishop Timon to the Franciscan head.  During this visit Devereux also had an audience with the Pope.  He was directed to Father Pamphilus da Magliano, a priest who was eager to travel to the United States.  Devereux pledged $5,000 and some land near his farm in Allegany City to the priests.  Pamphilus agreed to come with a few other priests who were interested in working in the United States.  Thus, St. Bonaventure was founded.


Devereux ended up making a second trip to Rome. This time he requested that a college be opened in Rome specifically for American priests. When it did open he made the first donation.

Unfortunately Nicholas Devereux didn't live long enough to see St. Bonaventure open its doors for the first time in 1858 because he died on December, 29 1855 after suffering from a short illness.

For More information on the earliest days of the University click the following link.

Early Days in America The "SBU"Bank Other Business Ventures Mary Devereux The Founding of SBU Home