Saint Vincent Seminary is the fourth oldest Roman Catholic Seminary in the United States. It has its canonical foundation in the papal bull Inter ceteras (1855), issued by Pope Pius IX, but its actual origins go back to the vision of a single Benedictine monk from Bavaria, Boniface Wimmer (1809-1887).
Sebastian Wimmer had been a priest of the Diocese of Regensburg, Bavaria, before discerning a calling to monastic life. Upon entering the Benedictine abbey of Saint Michael in Metten, Bavaria, Sebastian received the religious name Boniface. This bears some significance as Wimmer felt an affinity with Saint Boniface, the eighth-century English Benedictine who converted the pagan Germans to Christianity. As a monk, Wimmer was concerned for the pastoral care of German Catholics in America. From reports he had read, German Catholics in the U.S. lacked priests to minister to them in their native language; in many cases, they lacked any priest at all. Father Boniface sought and received permission from his abbot to go to America to serve those German Catholics whose spiritual plight had so moved him.
In 1846, Wimmer, with a company of eighteen young postulants, arrived in western Pennsylvania in response to an invitation the bishop of Pittsburgh had extended to him to work in that diocese. Father Boniface and his confreres settled at the parish of Saint Vincent de Paul, which was founded in 1790 and is near what is now the City of Latrobe. On that site, he established a monastic community, the center of his vision as a missionary.