St. Vincent de Paul, who the university is named for and the tower is located, was a French Roman Catholic who is now considered the patron saint of charity. He lived from 1581 to 1660. The St. Vincent Basilica, originally St. Vincent Parish, was named after St. Vincent de Paul. It was started in 1790 and was the first Catholic Parish in Pennsylvania to the west of the Allegheny Mountains. The university was founded in 1846 by Boniface Wimmer, a Bavarian monk, and was the first Benedictine monastery in the US.