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Entrance of the <a href="/content/Pontifical_Ecclesiastical_Academy" style="color:blue">Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy</a>.
Entrance of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

The Roman Colleges, also referred to as the Pontifical Colleges in Rome, are institutions established and maintained in Rome for the education of future ecclesiastics of the Roman Catholic Church. Traditionally many were for students of a particular nationality. The colleges are halls of residence in which the students follow the usual seminary exercises of piety, study in private, and review the subjects treated in class. In some colleges there are special courses of instruction (languages, music, archaeology, etc.) but the regular courses in philosophy and theology are given in a few large central institutions, such as Pontifical Urbaniana University, the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Lateran University, and the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.


The Roman colleges, in addition to the obvious advantages for study which Rome offers, allows the students to have a different experience of university life from the one of the irrespective countries.[1] They also serve in a certain measure to maintain contact of the various countries with the Holy See. With this end in view the popes have encouraged the founding of colleges in which young men of the same nationality might reside and at the same time profit by the opportunities which the city affords.[2]

The rector of the Kraków seminary, in bidding Karol Wojtyla farewell, said that theology can be learned elsewhere, but a priest in Rome must 'learn Rome itself'.[3]

Each national college has as its head a rector designated by the episcopate of the country to which the college belongs and appointed by the pope. He is assisted by a vice-rector and a spiritual director.[2]

Program of studies

Most colleges follow similar academic programs during the year, but variations will be found, and these are due chiefly to natural characteristics or to the special purpose for which the college was established.

The scholastic year begins in the first week of October and ends in June. In most of the courses the lecture system is followed and at stated times formal disputations are held in accordance with scholastic methods. The course of studies, whether leading to a degree or not, is prescribed and it extends, generally speaking, through six years, two of which are devoted to philosophy and four to theology. To philosophy in the stricter sense are added courses in mathematics, languages, and natural sciences. Theology includes, besides dogmatic and moral theology, courses in liturgy, archaeology, Church history, canon law and Scripture.

An oral examination is held in the middle of the year and a written examination (concursus) at the close. The usual degrees (baccalaureate, licentiate, and doctorate) are conferred in philosophy, theology, and canon law; since 1909 degrees in Sacred Scripture are conferred upon students who fulfill the requirements of the Biblical Institute.

Inter-college activities

Not only do seminarians from the different colleges follow their studies in the same universities, they also take part in extra-curricular seminars and conferences as well as leisure activities such as the Clericus Cup, a football (soccer) tournament created in 2007 and provides a venue for friendly athletic competition among the thousands of seminarians, representing nearly a hundred countries, who study in Rome.[4]

List of colleges

The Almo Collegio Capranica [5] is the oldest Roman college, founded in 1417 by Cardinal Domenico Capranica in his own palace for 31 young clerics, who received an education suitable for the formation of good priests. Capranica himself drew up their rules and presented the college with his own library, the more valuable portion of which was later transferred to the Vatican. Students living at the Capranica pursued theological studies at the nearby Sapienza. As of 2016, the college had about fifty students, primarily from dioceses in Italy.

The Pontificio Collegio Urbano "De Propaganda Fide" (Urban College) was established in Rome in 1622 in order to train missionaries to be sent around the world. All students of the Urban College have a full scholarship, lodging, accommodation and academic fees. After completion of studies the newly ordained priests would return to their homeland. As of 2016 the Urban College had about 165 students, most from Asia and Africa.[6]

Besides students from the dioceses of different continents, there are also seminarians of various Churches sui iuris such as the Syro Malabar, Syro Malankara, Coptic and Chaldean. In April 2015, thirteen seminarians of the Syro Malabar Church received minor orders: the subdiaconate, and diaconate from His Eminence Joseph Pallikkaparambil, Bishop emititus of the diocese of Palai, India.

Originally, the College occupied a premises adjacent to the Spanish Steps. If there were not enough pupils from a particular country to constitute a national college, the students would be housed at the Urbana.

The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (Pontificia Ecclesiastica Academia) is one of the Roman Colleges of the Roman Catholic Church. The academy is dedicated to training priests to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See.

Traditionally, most of the colleges were divided among the regions from which the seminarians came. Nowadays, most colleges have opened up to seminarians from other regions of the world with cultural or linguistic ties to their own.

The Roman Seminary (Pontificio Collegio Romano) is the major seminary of the diocese of Rome. The Council of Trent in its 23rd session decreed the establishment of diocesan seminaries. Its history can be traced to the Roman Seminary established by Pope Pius IV in 1565. In 1913, the Roman Seminary was merged with Pontificio Seminario Pio to form the Pontificio Seminario Romano Maggiore which was established in a new building at the Lateran. The patroness of the Major Seminary is the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Madonna della Fiducia (Our Lady of Trust).

The Pontificio Seminario Romano Minore is the minor seminary for the diocese of Rome. It was founded in 1913 with the merger of the minor division of the "Roman Seminary" with the Vatican Seminary. It is located just outside the rear walls of Vatican City at Viale Vaticano, 42; and constitutes an extraterritorial zone of the Holy See. The present Rector is Father Roberto Zammerini.[7] The patroness of the Minor Seminary is the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Madonna della Perseveranza (Our Lady of Perseverance).

The Seminario Lombardo dei SS. Ambrogio e Carlo (PSL) founded in 1863 chiefly through the generosity of Cardinal Edoardo Borromeo and Duke Scotti of Milan, was located in the palace of the confraternity of S. Carlo al Corso. The first community was made up of 12 students, some already priests and other clerics in holy orders, who attended the various institutions of higher education, in particular Apollinaris and the Gregorian. They offered their liturgical service also to the annexed Basilica of San Carlo al Corso. The Lombardo was merged temporarily with the Roman Seminary from 1913 to 1920, when it was re-established as a separate college.

In 1943 the rector, Francesco Bertoglio, hid 65 Jews in the seminary, so saving them from deportation to Auschwitz. Bertoglio was honored posthumously in 2011 with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.[8] Between November and December 1943 the guests had become 110 and had exceeded the limit of capacity. So the Rector, for safety, began to move people to other religious institutes. The work of protection, moving the refugees in different convents, became even more urgent after the Nazis violated the extraterritoriality of the premises on the night of 21 December 1943. "The sisters gave to me, to my brother and my cousin cassocks and missals. I was skinny and the habit was huge. Dressed as a priest, in desperation, we walked past the Germans patrolling Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore and we got a ride on a passing tram. Moments that even now, I dream about at night." - Angelo Perugia.[8] The account of the heroism Monsignor Bertoglio and his staff at the PSL was portrayed in Lionello Tagliaferri's 2011 book The Pope wants ...(Piacenza, Berti, 2011).

The PSL was relocated to its present location overlooking the square in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in the Esquilino area, in 1965 and blessed by Paul VI.[9] In 2006 the community was made up of more than 50 priests and deacons from every diocese in Lombardy.

The Armenian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Armeno) was founded in 1883 by Pope Leo XIII.[10] Before then, Armenian students were housed at the Urbana. The college was granted the Church of S. Nicola da Tolentino in the Trevi district. The Pontifical Armenian College and the Armenian Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentino are an important center for the Armenian community of Rome. Three Armenian Catholic patriarchs were students of the college. The colleges has hosted five synods of the Armenia Catholic hierarchy.[11]

The Belgian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Belga) is the national seminary for Belgian seminarians. It was established in 1844 through the initiative of Mgr. Aerts, who was aided by the papal nuncio in Belgium, Monsignor Pecci (later to become Pope Leo XIII), and the Belgian bishops. At first it was located in the home of Mgr. Aerts, rector of the Belgian national Church of S. Guiliano. In 1845 the ancient monastery of Saints Gioacchino e Anna at the Quattro Fontane was purchased. When Karol Wojtyla came to Rome in 1946, he lived at the Belgian College on the Via del Quirinale while pursuing studies at the Angelicum.[3] The College has since re-located to the Via Giambattista. The Belgian episcopate supports the seminarians and proposes the seminary's rector.

The Croatian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Di san Giralmo) was established in 1863 by Pope Pius IX to prepare priests for Dalmatia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Slavonia, and was located in the Illyrian hospice near the Church of S. Girolamo degli Schiavoni; but after a few years no more students were received. In 1900, Leo XIII reorganized the Illyrian hospice and decided to form a college of priests of the above-mentioned provinces, who would attend to the services in the church and at the same time pursue ecclesiastical studies.

The historical origin of the Pontifical Ethiopian College in the Vatican goes back to the arrival in Rome of Ethiopian pilgrims in the 15th century. To those pilgrims, most of whom were monks, Pope Sixtus IV in 1481 granted Santo Stefano degli Abissini with the outlying building just behind the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. Under Pope Leo X both the Church and the house were turned to a monastery for Ethiopian monks. The monastery of St. Stephen became an important center of Ethiopian studies and culture. For the first time printing in Ge’ez (Ethiopic) characters took place there with the publication of the Psalms in 1513 and later the New Testament in 1548/9. Many Ethio-Eritrean scholars attained their knowledge and necessary information from the members of that community; some of them were very learned men. They owned several pergameneous Codices, which are now in the Vatican Library.Pope Benedict XV, after having in 1917 instituted the Congregation for the Eastern Churches decided to found also Oriental Colleges in Rome.

Accordingly, in 1919, on the suggestion of Rev. Fr. Beccari S.J., he established the Ethiopian College in the old Monastery of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians. Mgr. Camillo Carrara the Apostolic Vicar of Eritrea sent the first group of students who were from Eritrea and the Apostolic Prefecture of Tigray. Because of the small number of students it could lodge and partly because the site was very damp and consequently unhealthy, the successor of Pope Benedict XV, Pope Pius XI decided to build a new and larger house for them. The Pope himself personally chose the place in the middle of the Vatican garden, indicating the spot where he ordered the construction of the new College, and on May 31, 1929 in the presence of 12 Cardinals and several prelates the laying of the foundation stone took place. The Ethiopian clergy were represented by Abba Kidanemariam Kassa, Apostolic pro-Vicar of Eritrea who later was consecrated bishop in the chapel of the newly built College. On 30 October 1929, the pope granted citizenship of the Vatican City to all members of the college. Eight students who died during their schooling are buried in the Church of St. Ann.

Pope Benedict XVI personally participated and gave his benediction on the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the College in 2005 in the presence of all bishops from Ethiopia and Eritrea. The College was also the meeting place of the Episcopal Conference of the Bishops of Ethiopia and Eritrea. At present, as from its beginning, there are priests from both Ethiopia and Eritrea for their higher learning in the College. The patron of the college is Saint Giustino de Jacobis.[12]

The Filipino College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Seminario de Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje) is the college of Filipino diocesan priests studying in Rome. It was formally established as an institution with pontifical rights by Pope John XXIII on June 29, 1961 through the Papal Bull Sancta Mater Ecclesia. Pope John XXIII blessed and inaugurated the modern edifice located at 490 Via Aurelia, on October 7, 1961 at the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

The French Seminary in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Francese) was founded in 1853 on the initiative of the French bishops in order to train French seminarians who were able to counteract Gallican influence. For many years it was run by the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. Many of the lectures are at the Gregorian University. Leo XIII declared it a pontifical seminary in 1902.[2] Disaffected conservative seminarians from the French College formed the core of the Catholic traditionalist group the Society of Saint Pius X.

After the Collegio Capranica, the German-Hungarian College (Pontificio Collegio Germanico-Ungarico) is the oldest college in Rome. The initiative towards its foundation was taken by Cardinal Giovanni Morone and Ignatius Loyola. Pope Julius III approved of the idea and promised his aid, but for a long time the college to struggle against financial difficulties. The first students were received in November 1552. The collegium is a German-speaking seminary for Catholic priests run by the Jesuits. Santo Stefano al Monte Celio is both the Hungarian national church in Rome, and the rectory church of the college.

The Greek College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Greco) was founded by Gregory XIII, who established it to receive young Greeks belonging to any nation in which the Greek Rite was used, and consequently for Greek refugees in Italy as well as the Ruthenians and Melkites of Egypt and the Levant.[13]

The English College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Inglese) was created for the training of priests for England and Wales. Founded in 1579, it is the oldest English institution anywhere outside England. Pope Gregory XIII converted the Hospital of St. Thomas into a college for the education of secular priests for the English mission.[14]

The Beda College (Pontificio Collegio Beda) is united to the English College and intended for mature candidates ("second-career") and converted clergymen wishing to prepare for the priesthood. It was founded in 1852 by Pius IX. The Beda is the responsibility of the Bishops of England and Wales, but has opened its doors to receive men from English-speaking countries worldwide. The college mission has always been to help older men adapt as Catholic priests.[15]

The Irish College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Irlandese) [16] was founded on 1 January 1628 for the training of Irish seminarians.

The South American College in Rome (Collegio Pio-Latino-Americano Pontificio) was founded on 21 November 1858, for students from Central and South America.

  • Collegio Pio-Brasiliano, the Brazilian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Pio-Brasiliano) was separated from the South American College by Pope Pius XI in 1934 and is run by Brazilian Jesuits for Brazilian seminarians.

The Maronite College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio dei Maroniti) was founded by Gregory XIII in 1584, and had its first site near the Church of S. Maria della Ficoccia near the Piazza di Trevi. It was richly endowed by Sixtus V and Cardinal Antonio Carafa, and also by other popes, and was entrusted to the Jesuits; the pupils attended the Gregorian University. During the Revolution of 1798 the College was suppressed, and the Maronites who wished to study at Rome went to the Collegio Urbano. In 1893 Maronite Patriarch Khayat obtained the restoration of the college from Leo XIII. The Holy See gave part of the funds, the remainder was collected in France, and in 1894 the new college was inaugurated. In 1904 it acquired its own residence, and came under the charge of Maronite secular priests.

The Mexican College in Rome was founded by the Mexican Conference of Bishops to allow Mexican priests sponsored by their dioceses to live in Rome while studying a specialization at one of the major universities. It was inaugurated on 12 October 1967 by Cardinal Gabriel-Marie Garrone.

Formerly known as the Pontifio Collegio Boemo, the Czech College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Nepomuceno) was established in 1884 for seminarians from what is now the Czech Republic partly with the revenues of the ancient Bohemian hospice founded by Emperor Charles IV, and with contributions of Leo XIII and the Bohemian bishops. The site was transferred several times, but in 1888 the old monastery of S. Francesca Romana in the Via Sistina was purchased. The rector is always one of the professors in the Propaganda, which the students attend. They number from 24 to 28.[17]

The Polish College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Polacco) welcomes seminarians from Poland. In 1583, Philip Neri, and in about 1600, King John Casimir of Poland had begun the foundation of a college for Poles, but their institute was short-lived. In 1866 a college was finally opened due to the efforts of the Congregation of the Resurrection, which raised the first funds to which Princess Odelscalchi, Pius IX, and others contributed later. In 1878 the college was transferred to its present location, the former Maronite College, and the adjoining church was dedicated to St. John Cantius. The students, some of whom pay a small pension, number 30 and are distinguished by their green sashes; they attend the lectures in the Gregorian. The college is under the care of the Resurrectionists and possesses a villa at Albano.[18]

The Pontifical Portuguese College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Portoghese) was founded 1901 for Portuguese-speaking seminarians from Portugal and Brazil. The current rector is José Manuel Garcia Cordeiro, who is a Consultor to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and a Professor at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at Rome's Sant’Anselmo.[19]

The Russian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Russo di Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesù) was founded for seminarians who were expected to work in Russia and for seminarians of the Slav-Byzantine church.

The Scottish College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Scozzese) was established in 1600 by Clement VIII for the education of Scottish priests for the preservation of Catholicism in Scotland. It was assigned the revenues of the old Scots hospice, which were increased by the munificence of the pope and other benefactors. In 1634 the college was transferred to its present situation and in 1649 the Countess of Huntley constructed a church dedicated to Saint Andrew and Saint Margaret, Queen of Scotland. From 1615 till 1773 it was under the direction of the Jesuits. The students, numbering about 20, are supported partly by the revenues of the college and partly by the Scottish bishops and by their own money. They attend the Gregorian University and have a villa at Marino. Since 1964, the Scottish College building has been situated on the Via Cassia leaving the former site of Via Quattro Fontane for a purpose built building on the outskirts of the city.

The Spanish College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Spagnuolo) was founded in 1892 through the initiative of Leo XIII, the generosity of the episcopacy, and the royal family for seminarians from Spain. Installed at first in the national hospice of S. Maria in Monserrato, it was transferred later to the Palazzo Altemps near S. Apollinare. The students numbering 70 are for the most part supported by their bishops; they attend the Gregorian. The direction is entrusted to the pious Spanish Congregation of the Operarii Diocesani.[20]

The Pontifical North American College (Pontificio Collegio Americano del Nord) was founded in 1859 by Pope Pius IX in a former Dominican and Visitation Convent, the Casa Santa Maria, located in the historic center of Rome near the Trevi Fountain. It was granted pontifical status by the Holy See in 1884. After World War II, the Seminary Division of College was moved to a new campus on the Janiculum Hill overlooking Vatican City. The Casa Santa Maria now serves as a residence for priests pursuing advanced theological degrees.[21] Also located on the Janiculum Hill campus, the Casa O'Toole is home to the Institute for Continuing Theological Education, the College's sabbatical and continuing priestly formation program. Enrollment in the College is available to properly qualified seminarians and priests who are United States citizens, although citizens of other countries can be admitted with the permission of the College's Board of Governors. All students are nominated for enrollment by their own diocesan bishop. At present, the Seminary Division enrollment (including some students who are already ordained priests but who are not engaged in independent graduate studies, and other students who are pursuing a year-long pre-ordination pastoral service program in their home dioceses) numbers over 250; and they come from approximately half of the approximately 200 dioceses of the United States, as well as from a number of dioceses in Australia.

The Collegio Teutonico or German College is the Pontifical College established for future ecclesiastics of German nationality. It is divided into two separate colleges; the Pontificio Collegio Teutonico di S. Maria dell’ Anima and the Collegio Teutonico del Campo Santo.

The Ukrainian College of Saint Josaphat in Rome (Collegio di San Giosafat Ucraino) was created for seminarians from Ukraine.

The Ukrainian College of the Protection of our Lady in Rome (Collegio di Patrocinio Ucraino) was created for seminarians from Ukraine. Currently is closed. All Ukrainian students were transferred to the Ukrainian Pontifical College of Saint Josaphat. The building was given to the Indian Malabar Eastern Catholic Church a few years ago.

Lithuanian Pontifical College of St. Casimir was established for Lithuanian priests studying in Rome.[22]

The rector of the Pontifical Korean College is Rev. John Kim Jong-su, of the Archdiocese of Seoul.[23]

The Nobile Collegio Cerasoli first began in Rome in 1640, with a bequest of Don Flaminio Cerasoli to the Archconfraternity of Bergamo in Rome to open a college for the training of young clerics from Bergamo. His heirs contested, and the matter was tied up in litigation for a long time. The college was designed by architect Gabriele Valvassori, and opened in 1834. The property was seized by Napoleon, and in 1834 annexed to the "Roman College". The revenues of the legacy continued to support as many students as possible from Bergamo at the College. In 1901 Angelo Roncalli was awarded one of four seats reserved for the Collegio Cerasoli at the "Roman Seminary".[24]

The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas is a college and house of formation for the lay vocation and laity pursuing an ecclesial vocation through study and research at the Pontifical Universities in Rome. The Centre is dedicated to ecumenical and interreligious hospitality as part of its mission in forming Catholic laity and lay ecclesial ministers.

The Collegio Apostolico Leoniano owes its origin to P. Valentini, a Lazarist, who, aided by a pious lady, received in a private house the students who could not otherwise gain admittance to the other colleges. The college opened in 1901,[25] and was taken over later by the Holy See and a large building was erected in the Prati di Castello. The college houses the Rome Provincial Office of the Congregation of the Mission and is now located on the Via Pompeo Magno.[26]

The Vatican Seminary, was founded in 1636 by Urban VIII. Its pupils had the task of assisting at the liturgical services at the Basilica of St. Peter. The administration was entrusted to the Vatican Chapter which appointed the rector. In 1730 the seminary was transferred from the Piazza Rusticucci to a building behind the apse of St. Peter's. In 1913 it was merged with the minor division of the "Roman Seminary" to form the Pontificio Seminario Romano Minore.

The Pontificio Seminario Pio or Pius Seminary, was situated in the Palazzo di S. Apollinare, and was intended for seminarians from all regions of Italy. It was founded in 1853 by Pius IX for the dioceses of the Pontifical States. In 1913 it was merged with the major division of the "Roman Seminary" to form the Pontificio Seminario Romano Maggior, located at the Lateran.

The Seminario dei SS. Pietro e Paolo was established in 1867 by Pietro Avanzani, a secular priest, to prepare young secular priests for the foreign missions. Pius IX approved it in 1874 and had a college erected, but this was later pulled down and since then the seminary changed its location several times until being housed at the Armenian College. The students have lectures on foreign languages, including Chinese. The college has a country residence at Montopoli in the Sabine hills. On finishing their studies the students go to the Vicariate Apostolic of Southern Shen-si or to Lower California. It existed until 1926 at which date it merged with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions

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