Villanova University is a private university located in Radnor Township, a suburb northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Named for Saint Thomas of Villanova, the school is the oldest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1842 by the Order of Saint Augustine, the university traces its roots to old Saint Augustine's Church, Philadelphia, which the Augustinian friars founded in 1796, and to its parish school, Saint Augustine's Academy, which was established in 1811.
In October 1841, two Augustinian friars from Saint Augustine's Church in Philadelphia purchased the 200-acre (0.81 km) "Belle Air" estate in Radnor Township with the intention of starting a school. The school, which was called the "Augustinian College of Vilanova," opened in 1842. However, the Philadelphia Nativist Riots of 1844 that burned Saint Augustine's Church in Philadelphia caused financial difficulties for the Augustinians, and the college was closed in February 1845.
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