Catholic Franciscan Identity

Founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Viterbo is a Catholic, Franciscan University in the liberal arts tradition.

Mission Statement

The Viterbo University community prepares students for faithful service and ethical leadership.

Core Values

In keeping with the tradition of our Franciscan founders, we hold the following core values:

  • Contemplation, as we reflect upon the presence of God in our lives and work
  • Hospitality, as we welcome everyone we encounter as an honored guest
  • Integrity, as we strive for honesty in everything we say and do
  • Stewardship, as we practice responsible use of all resources in our trust
  • Service, as we work for the common good in the spirit of humility and joy

In keeping with Catholic tradition and our Franciscan heritage, Viterbo University incorporates the following Franciscan and Catholic values into the life and work of the university community:

  • Reverences the unique dignity of individual persons
  • Provides service to one another, society, and the church
  • Fosters a humble and generous spirit of hospitality
  • Respects all creation as good stewards of the earth’s resources
  • Sustains a Franciscan, eucharistic presence in our community
  • Values the compatibility of faith and reason as integral to truth
  • Pursues and shares truth for its own sake
  • Encounters the invisible God in the whole of the visible world
  • Celebrates with joy the world as redeemed by Christ
Franciscan Identity

Viterbo University is proud to be one of only 24 Franciscan universities in the U.S. As a member of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities, Viterbo works collaboratively with other Franciscan institutions to deepen Franciscan research and to offer students and employees unique opportunities for Franciscan programming.

Statement of Purpose

Viterbo’s purposes are derived from the Gospel as reflected in the heritage of Saint Francis, Saint Clare, and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who founded the institution.

  • To offer baccalaureate liberal arts degree programs along with career and professional opportunities on both a full- and part-time basis.
  • To offer opportunities for life-long learning through degree completion programs, specialized professional degree programs, and continuing education as well as selected master’s and doctoral degree programs.
  • To develop a total program of studies, adapted to the needs and interests of the students, which will stimulate the fullest possible growth of the intellectual and creative powers of each student.
  • To create an educational environment which will stimulate free inquiry, a search for truth, aesthetic appreciation, intellectual integrity, and leadership potential.
  • To foster the integration of knowledge with religious and ethical values.
  • To deepen in the students an appreciation of one’s own cultural heritage and traditions, as well as those of others.
  • To facilitate the formation of a Christian community which offers opportunities for religious dialogue, experience, and worship, and which manifests mutual care, honesty, respect, and love.
  • To maintain a Catholic Christian orientation and a fidelity to the continuance of the traditions of the Catholic Church and the spirit of Franciscanism.
  • To provide a milieu which fosters growth in self-actualization, emotional maturity, religious convictions, and a dedication to the ideals of service.
  • To facilitate integration of the living and learning aspects of student development.
Ex Corde Ecclesiae

Ex Corde Ecclesiae

The 1990 Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II takes its name from the beginning Latin phrase—from the heart of the church. “Born from the heart of the Church…a Catholic university has always been recognized as an incomparable center of creativity and dissemination of knowledge for the good of humanity (par. 1). Being both a university and Catholic, it must be both a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge, and an academic institution in which Catholicism is vitally present and operative” (Par. 14).

Application for Ex Corde Ecclesiae for the United States (USCCB)

Viterbo recognizes its privileged position as a Catholic University and complies fully with the implementation norms of the Apostolic Constitution and USCCBs recommendation. We are proud to be the only Catholic university in the Diocese of La Crosse and to participate directly in the life of the local Church.

San Damiano Cross

The San Damiano Cross is the one St. Francis was praying at before he received the commission from the Lord to rebuild the Church. The original cross presently hangs in Santa Chiara (St. Clare) Church in Assisi, Italy.  All Franciscans cherish his cross as the symbol of their mission from God. The cross is called an icon cross because it contains images of people who have a part in the meaning of the cross. The tradition of such crosses began in the eastern Church and was transported by Serbian monks to the Umbria district of Italy.


Tau—Francis used the Tau in the hope of salvation in his writings, painted it on the walls and doors of the places where he stayed, and used it as his only signature on his writings.