Meet the fraternity: Sanctus Virgilius (Virgiel)

Virgiel was originally a Catholic fraternity, but these days religion is more a part of their history and roots than a current practice.

Catholic students who were united by their faith formed Virgiel in 1898. They are part of Aller Heiligen Convent, a group of Catholic fraternities in the Netherlands. Their premises are a monastery called Alcuin, located at Oude Delft 57. With over 2,000 members, they are Delft’s largest fraternity. Approximately one third of members are female, with just a handful of internationals.Nowadays their main objective is enabling members to have a good time by providing social, sport and cultural opportunities.

Members are organised into groups of around eighteen people from the same academic year, called year groups. Year groups have a connection with one group in each other year of study. From year four it’s possible to join a group with people from different years, called disputen. Men and women are grouped separately.

Noud Wijtenburg, external affairs officer for Virgiel, explained what membership of a fraternity means: “When you come from another town to study in Delft, it’s a place where you can make new friends quickly to socialise with. Everything that you want to do, you can.” Of course there are parties, but many other activities are organised too. There’s a range of sports clubs, theatre group, debating and careers events to name but a few.

New members are recruited during OWEE, when the two week initiation period starts. During this time new recruits learn the fraternity history and rules. You won’t find the rules written down, they’re woven into traditions. For example, there’s a bird house on the wall opposite the main bar. If you manage to throw a coin in, you’ll get free beer for a year.

“We’re working with DISS, ORAS, ISAD (International Student Associations Delft) and some other fraternities on a pilot buddy programme. An international and Dutch student will be buddied, and various events will be organised so that internationals can see what fraternities are all about. We hope to open registrations for this pilot in February 2015,” said Wijtenburg. “It’s also good for internationals to know that our dining room is open to the public, and they can attend our parties when invited by a member.”

In the Virgiel cellar are eight 1,000 litre tanks for storing beer. “We have an arrangement with Bavaria that when we run out of beer, no matter what time of day or night, they will deliver more,” said Wijtenburg. A beer will set you back just €0.80.

Virgiel rented the monastery from Gemeente Delft in 1949, on the proviso that they’d carry out restoration work. Having done so, they purchased the property from the Gemeente in 1989 for the symbolic amount of one guilder. Built in 1405 for nuns, it has also served as an orphanage and for weapon storage.

For more information about Virgiel, see their website.

In this series we’ll be meeting TU Delft’s student fraternities. These fraternities are called gezelligheidsverenigingen in Dutch, which translates as ‘social clubs’, but in fact they’re far more than that. If you’d like to suggest a fraternity for us to cover, please email us at

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