Brother Philip Neri (Robert) Kunze, C.S.C. (1844-1926)

The Landscaper

Brother Philip Neri was born in Silesia, Germany and came to the United States when he was 16 and, the following year, he received the habit of a Brother of Holy Cross.  As a young brother he was the professor of penmanship and German in the Commercial course of the Preparatory Department at Notre Dame.  He wrote a beautiful hand fully deserving the name calligraphy.  His copy books on German and English script were bought and published by Fred Puster of New York and Cincinnati.  In these copy books he introduced a system peculiarly his own, and in the case of his eight German penmanship books, critics regarded them as the finest and most complete of any others then in existence in German.

His entire 65 years in the congregation were spent at Notre Dame giving him ample time to plan and expand the University grounds.  The beautifying of the main quadrangle was Brother Philip’s fancy. He lived to see the trees which he had “blessed” and planted as saplings grow to towering giants.  In his latter years he walked the shaded avenues of Notre Dame, stopping now and then to admire his harvest of years in spreading boughs and flowering shrubs. They were his protégés, carefully nurtured over a lifetime.  Many of his trees are still growing on the campus. Rarely, perhaps, was so much accomplished with a budget necessarily so meager.  In his arboretum he introduced fifty-three species of trees because he believed that man does not plant trees for himself but for posterity.  Along with his friend, Brother Peter Fitzpatrick the engineer, they wanted to bring a bit of renaissance France to the banks of the Saint Joseph River. Together they more than accomplished their goal.

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