Virginia Brown of PIMS (1940-2009)

Generations of students at Toronto's Centre for Medieval Studies and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies took a course in the editing of Medieval Latin texts, taught by Virginia Brown. Dr Brown died on July 4, 2009, after battling pancreatic cancer. Here is the e-mail message her husband circulated:

I'm sorry to write to you all collectively but I wanted you to know the sad news immediately. My wife Virginia passed away in her sleep yesterday, July 4, at around 4.30 from the complications of bilio-pancreatic cancer. She was 68. She had been suffering from abiliary blockages since the summer of 2007 and was diagnosed with cancer on April 30 of this year. At no point since her diagnosis did she experience any pain, and she kept her sweetness and bright spirit to the end. She will be buried with my family in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

I am grateful to so many of you who in these last few weeks sent notes, emails, cards, flowers and your thoughts and prayers. I am particularly grateful that she was able to enjoy the many honors she received in the last few years, the two conferences in her honor at Ohio State and UCLA, the Festschrift edited by Frank Coulson and Anna Grotans, the Medieval Academy teaching award, the honorary citizenship of Benevento and the ceremony in honor of her work on Beneventan script at the abbey of Montecassino last October. She was most grateful for the moving collection of reminisces and tributes from her PIMS students put together by Aden Kumler and Magda Hayton, which arrived a few weeks ago.

Ginny expressed to me her wish that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be sent to the Library of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto ( or to support the Virginia Brown Fellowship at the Center for Epigraphical and Paleographical Studies at the Ohio State University (

Jim Hankins

Though the subject of her famous "The Edition of Medieval Latin Texts" course was the Franciscan, Thomas of York's Sapientiale, her personal academic interest was especially the life and liturgy of Monte Cassino and its Beneventan script and texts. Please God may she be meeting up with the blessed monks of Monte Cassino now—as well as one of its former oblates.


Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is an associate professor of Theology at Marquette University, and founded on Squarespace in November of 2004. He studied with James Weisheipl, Leonard Boyle, Walter Principe, and Lawrence Dewan, at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Toronto, Canada).