The Curious Truth:Ghosts and haunted mysteries of St. Bonaventure
Paranormal rumors lurk in the shadows of St. Bonaventure
By James Zaniello
It's around midnight on Friday the 13th. Four students are walking up the creaky steps to Fifth Dev, hoping to find some truth to all the rumors they have heard since their freshman year. Upon reaching the Fifth Dev landing, they find lights on and the door locked.
Finding no other way into the infamous room that few people have seen, they trudge back down the stairs, hoping to get back into the Burton before the last call.
For years ghosts have been seen floating through campus. Most, however, have been the apparitions of students' minds. Could there be a shred of truth in the rumors of ghosts inhabiting campus?
There are many rumors as to what has actually happened on the fifth floor of Devereux Hall. One widespread story is that a student committed suicide there. Martin Cahill, Devereux residence director, said there has never been a suicide nor an attempted suicide on Fifth Dev.
Rumors have also circulated that the entire Fifth Dev floor had to be exorcised after an alleged Black Mass was performed there.
"Some form of a Black Mass was indeed performed by three students on Fifth Dev," the Rev. Alphonsus Trabold, O.F.M., assistant professor of theology, said.
"To the best of my knowledge, there has never been reason for an exorcism, nor was there ever one," he claimed, adding that the possibility exists that a priest may have conducted a private ceremony.
Another Fifth Dev rumor is that during the ritual a sacred host was nailed to the wall.
"The students had stolen several unconsecrated hosts from the chapel in Devereux Hall for use in the Black Mass. Again, as far as what was actually done with (the hosts) is uncertain," Father Alphonsus explained.
The students had done some reading on the occult and Black Masses and were attempting to summon the devil. Father Alphonsus said he believes three books were used while conducting the Black Mass.
Shortly thereafter, one of the three students was supposedly treated for psychological problems.
"What I seem to remember was that one of the students became morally and spiritually upset because he had done something sacrilegious," Father Alphonsus recalled.
Though he is not sure of the extent of the punishment, Father Alphonsus remembered that the students were expelled from the University not only because of the Black Mass itself, but also because stealing hosts was and still is a serious offense.
After the incident, Fifth Dev was allegedly closed down for several years, and rumors began that the floor was closed due to the Black Mass.
"The reason Fifth Dev was shut down was incredibly high insurance costs and the price of renovations because Dev has a wooden roof," Cahill said.
A second legend also centers around Dev. This tale involves a World War II memorial that once stood behind the dormitory. As the story goes, it was believed that the ghost of William J. Cooper would annually appear to shine his name.
"In my sophomore year here at St. Bonaventure, my roommate and I went out to check the monument," Cahill explained. "At that point, the thing was a mess and none of the names stood out from the rest."
This monument was removed last summer because another one, remembering the deceased St. Bonaventure students or alumni of all the wars, was dedicated this fall.
The final campus legend concerns the third floor of DeLaRoche Hall. The story, which has two variations, tells of a fire that broke out one evening while an undergraduate was doing research for a paper.
In one version, the fire began just as the student finished his paper, and it was destroyed as he was trying to escape. When the light shines brightly into the night, it is rumored that the student is trying to find his paper.
The other variation claims that the student died trying to complete the paper before the fire reached him. Now he is said to be sitting up there late at night trying to complete the paper.
There are many tales out there now, most of which grew out of students sitting around trying to top one another over the past 20 years or so.
One thing is certain: no matter how many more tales are fabricated, these stories will continue to amuse students for years to come.
January 22, 1988
Vol. LXI, No. 13