A Mass of Christian burial for Father Benedict T. Viviano, OP, was held June 3 at the chapel of St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis. Father Viviano died May 25 at the Resurrection Life Center in Chicago at age 83. He was internationally renowned as a scholar of sacred Scripture, particularly of the Gospel of St. Matthew.
Thomas Michael Viviano was born on Jan. 22, 1940, to Carmeline Chiappetta Viviano and Frank G. Viviano in St. Louis. He attended City House Academy (Barat Hall) from 1945-48 and Immacolata Parochial (Clayton) 1948-53. He then attended Christian Brothers Military High School, graduating in 1957.
Following high school, Father Viviano studied from 1957-59 at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, in preparation to enter the Dominican Order, Province of St. Albert the Great. He entered the novitiate at St. Peter Martyr Priory in Winona, Minnesota, receiving the Dominican habit on Aug. 30, 1959. At that time, he received the religious name of Benedict. On Aug. 31, 1960, he made his religious profession of simple vows.
Following his novitiate, Father Viviano began philosophical studies at the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest, Illinois. He made his solemn profession there on Aug. 31, 1963. He then moved to St. Rose of Lima Priory in Dubuque, where he studied theology and was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1966.
After his ordination, Father Viviano studied at the Pontifical Institute of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., from 1966-67, where he attained both a lectorate and licentiate in sacred theology. In 1969, he received a bachelor’s in sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He also earned a doctorate in Bible from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina (1976), and a license in sacred Scripture (cum mentione speciale) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (1977).
Father Viviano’s teaching experiences began at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in Dubuque from 1972-81, and in St. Louis from 1981-84. He then taught at the Dominican Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem from 1984-95. At this time, he served as editor of The Revue Biblique. Following his time at the Ecole, he moved to become a professor of New Testament at the Dominican University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He taught there from 1995-2011.
A prodigious writer, in 1978 Father Viviano’s doctoral dissertation was published as part of the “Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity,” “Study as Worship: Aboth and the New Testament.” He was co-editor of The Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible (1986). In 1988, “The Kingdom of God in History” was published and was later translated into French. He was also the author of the “Commentary on Matthew” in “The New Jerome Bible Commentary” (1989). In addition to other books, he was also the author of numerous articles and reviews.
Following his retirement from the University of Fribourg in 2011, Father Viviano divided his year between the Dominican community in Vienna, Austria, and St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis. In 2019, health challenges required his permanent relocation to St. Pius V Priory in Chicago.
Father Viviano was deeply loved and respected by his Dominican brothers and all who had the opportunity to know him and receive the fruits of his wisdom as well as his wit. He is survived by his sister, Patricia Viviano Tecu, and her sons, Matthew, Peter (Caterina) and Joshua Tecu. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Paul Vincent Viviano.
Burial was in the Viviano family plot in Calvary Cemetery.