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Note: This article is based on the "Catholic Encyclopedia" 1913 and contains a large amount of out-dated information throughout, including the numbers of students. Specifically, many of the practices and forms of dress described changed dramatically during the 1960s.
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 the Propaganda, the Gregorian University, the Roman Seminary, and the Minerva, i.e. the school of the Dominicans.
The Roman colleges, in addition to the obvious advantages for study which Rome offers, also serve in a certain measure to keep up in the various countries of the world that spirit of loyal attachment to the Holy See which is the basis of unity. 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.
The Roman colleges are grouped in several clusters, each of which included a centre for purposes of instruction and a number of affiliated institutions.
Each college has at 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.
Discipline is maintained by means of the camerata system in which the students are divided into groups each in charge of a prefect who is responsible for the observance of rule. Each camerata occupies its own section of the college building, has its own quarters for recreation, and goes its own way about the city on the daily walk prescribed by the regulations. Meals and chapel exercises are in common for all students of the college. While indoors, the student wears the cassock with a broad cincture; outside the college, the low-crowned three-cornered clerical hat and a cloak or soprana are added.
Program of studies
Most colleges follow similar academical 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 November and ends about the middle of July. 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.
Each college spends the summer vacation at its villegiatura or country house located outside the city and generally in or near one of the numerous towns on the slopes of the neighbouring hills. Student life in the "villa" is quite similar to the routine of the academic year in regard to discipline and religious exercises; but a larger allowance is made for recreation and for occasional trips through the surrounding country. And while each student has more time for reading along lines of his own choice, he is required to give some portion of each day to the subjects explained in the classroom during the year.
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 tournament created some years ago.
List of colleges
Vocational Pontifical colleges
Almo Collegio Capranica
The Almo Collegio Capranica  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. The cardinal's brother, Angelo Capranica, erected opposite his own palace a suitable house for the students.
When the Constable de Bourbon laid siege to Rome in 1527 the Capranica students were among the few defenders of the Porta di S. Spirito, and all of them with their rector fell at the breach. The rector according to the university custom of those days was elected by the students and was always one of them. Pope Alexander VII decided that the rector should be appointed by the protectors of the college.
After the French Revolution the college was re-established in 1807; the number of free students was reduced to 13, but paying students were admitted. The country seat is a villa at Monte Mario.
Pontificla Ecclesiastical Academy
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.
Seminario dei SS. Pietro e Paolo
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 has changed its location several times; at present it is in the Armenian College. The students follow the courses at the Propaganda; at home they have lectures on foreign languages, including Chinese. They number 12. 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 .
The Pontificio Seminario Vaticano , also referred to as the Pontificio Seminario Romano Minore, was founded in 1636 by Urban VIII for the convenience of the clerics serving in the Vatican Basilica (St. Peter's). Its government was entrusted to the Vatican Chapter which appointed the rector. Shortly afterward a course of grammar and somewhat later, courses of philosophy and theology were added. Paying students were also admitted. In 1730 the seminary was transferred from the Piazza Rusticucci to its present location behind the apse of St. Peter's. From 1797 till 1805 it remained closed; on its reopening only 6 free students could be received, but the number rose to 30 or 40. After the events of 1870 the seminary dwindled. Leo XIII endeavoured to restore it, re-establishing the former courses and granting it a country residence in the Sabine hills. In 1897 it was authorized to confer degrees. In 1905 Pius X suppressed the faculties of philosophy and theology, the students of the former subject going to S. Apollinare, and of the latter to the Gregorian. They wear a purple cassock with the pontifical coat-of-arms on the end of their sash.
Regional Pontifical Colleges
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 Apostolic Constitution "In præcipuis", 29 June 1913, promulgated the new regulations concerning the training of the Roman and Italian clergy. In brief, there are to be two seminaries: a smaller, for "gymnasial" students, in the present Vatican Seminary; and a greater, for philosophers and theologians, in the new Lateran building. To the latter are transferred the Seminario SS. Ambrogio e Carlo, now to be part of the Roman Seminary; and the Seminario Pio, which retains the laws as to its scope and character. The faculties of philosophy and theology of the Roman Seminary are to be in the Lateran Seminary; the law department goes to the Collegio Leoniano, but remains a school of the Seminary. The Collegio Leoniano shall receive only priests duly authorized to pursue higher studies. The Academia Theologica of the Sapienza remains at S. Apollinare. All Italian clerical students must abide in the Lateran or the Vatican Seminaries, excepting those preparing for the heathen missions or who are eligible for the Collegio Capranica.
The Roman Seminary (Pontificio Collegio Romano) is the diocesan seminary of Rome. The Council of Trent in its 23rd session decreed the establishment of diocesan seminaries. Pope Pius IV decided to set a good example, and on 1 February 1565, the Roman Seminary was solemnly opened with 60 students. The rules were drawn up by Diego Lainez, General of the Society of Jesus, and to this order Pius IV entrusted the management of the college.
Collegio Apostolico Leoniano
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. This college and the revenue left by the lady were taken over later by the Holy See and a large building was erected in the Prati di Castello. The direction was committed to the Jesuits. The students, mainly of the southern provinces that have no special college at Rome, attend the lectures at the Gregorian University.
The Pontificio Seminario Pio, also situated in the Palazzo di S. Apollinare, is destined for seminarians from all regions of Italy. It was founded in 1853 by Pius IX for the dioceses of the Pontifical States. Each diocese is entitled to send a student who has completed his humanities; Sinigaglia may send two; the number of pupils is limited to 62. All must spend nine years in the study of philosophy, theology, canon law, and literature; they are supported by the revenues of the seminary and are distinguished by their violet sash. The seminary has a villa outside the Porta Portese. The students bind themselves by oath to return to their dioceses on the completion of their studies.
Seminario Lombardo dei SS. Ambrogio e Carlo
The Seminario Lombardo dei SS. Ambrogio e Carlo founded in 1854 chiefly through the generosity of Cardinal Borromeo and Duke Scotti of Milan, was located in the palace of the confraternity of S. Carlo al Corso. Owing to the insufficiency of its revenues it remained closed from 1869 to 1878. Leo XIII allowed the other bishops of Upper Italy as well as of Modena, Parma, and Placenta to send their subjects who, numbering over 60, pay for their maintenance and follow the lectures at the Gregorian University; not a few of these students are already priests when the enter the seminary. They may be known by their black sashes with red borders. Since 1888 the seminary has had its own residence in the Prati di Castello. It was relocated in 1965 and blessed by [Paul VI].
The Armenian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Armeno)  was first planned by Gregory XIII in 1584 who decreed the erection of a college for seminarians from Armenia (Bull "Romana Ecclesia"), but the plan fell through. When the Collegio Urbano of the Propaganda was founded later there were always some places for students of this nation. Finally, in 1885, Gregory's proposal was carried into effect, thanks to the generosity of some wealthy Armenians and of Leo XIII. The college was granted the Church of S. Nicola da Tolentino in the street of that name. The president is an Armenian prelate; the students numbering from 20 to 25 attend the lectures at the Propaganda, and wear red sashes and large-sleeved Oriental cloaks.
The Belgian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Belga) is destined for Belgian seminarians. Established in 1844 through the initiative of Mgr. Aerts, aided by the nuncio in Belgium, then Mgr. Pecci (later to become Pope Leo XIII, and by 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 Gioacchino ed Anna at the Quattro Fontane was purchased. The Belgian episcopate supports the students and proposes the president. The students, 20 and more in number, attend the Gregorian; their dress is distinguished by two red stripes at the ends of the sash.
The Canadian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Canadese)  was founded by Cardinal Howard for seminarians from Canada. With the backing of Frédéric-Louis Colin, the Canadian Congregation of St. Sulpice undertook to defray the expenses. The building was erected (1887) in the Via delle Quattro Fontane, and in 1888 the first pupils were enrolled. Some of the students are priests and follow the lectures in the Propaganda, and those who have already completed their studies in Canada are privileged to receive a degree after two years in Rome. The Sulpicians are in charge of the college.
Collegio Croato Di San Girolamo
The Croation 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 Ethiopian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Etiopico) was founded for seminarians from Ethiopia.
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 Blessed 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. 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 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.
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.
The Beda College (Pontificio Collegio Beda)  is united to the English College and intended for converted Anglican clergymen wishing to prepare for the priesthood. It was founded in 1852 by Pius IX. Today the character of the community has changed. Although the Beda remains the responsibility of the Bishops of England and Wales, it has opened its doors to receive men from English-speaking countries worldwide. However, the essential mission remains the same: to help older men harness and develop their experience and knowledge in the service of the Gospel as Catholic priests.
The Irish College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Irlandese)  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 dei Maroniti
The Maronite College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio dei Maroniti)  was founded by Gregory XIII, 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 Caraffa, 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 Mgr. Khayat, the Maronite Patriarch, 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.
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 and are distinguished by their black sashes with two yellow stripes at the extremities.
The Brazilian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Pio-Brasiliano) was founded by Pope Pius XI in 1934 and is run by Brazilian Jesuits for Brazilian seminarians.
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.
The Pontifical Portuguese College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Portoghese)  was founded 1901 for Portuguese-speaking seminarians from Portugal and Brazil. The current rector 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.
The Russian College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Russo di Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesù) was founded for seminarians from Russia.
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. They wear a purple cassock, with a crimson sash and black soprana.
The Spanish College in Rome (Pontificio Collegio Spagnuolo)  was founded in 1892 through the initiative of Leo XIII and the generosity of the episcopacy, 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, and are distinguished by a pelerine and a sky-blue sash. The direction is entrusted to the pious Spanish Congregation of the Operarii Diocesani.
Collegio Americano del Nord
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 College was moved into a new building located on the via del Gianicolo, just outside Vatican City. The Casa Santa Maria functions as the graduate house for priests who are doing advanced studies. Located on the grounds of the seminary, the Casa O'Toole is home to the Institute for Theological Studies, the College's sabbatical 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 enrollment (including Fifth-Year priests) numbers over 200.
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 in Rome (Collegio di San Giosafat Ucraino) was created for seminarians from Ukraine.
- ^ DISCORSO DI PAOLO VI PER L'INAUGURAZIONE E BENEDIZIONE DELLA NUOVA SEDE DEL PONTIFICIO SEMINARIO LOMBARDO, 11 November 1965. Vatican Archives Website. Accessed on 01-28-09.
- ^ "Roman Colleges". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- L'organisation et administration centrale de l'eglise (Paris, 1900), 600 sqq.
- DANIEL; BAUMGARTEN; DE WAAL, Rome, Le chef supreme;
- Moroni, Dizionario, XIII (Venice, 1842), LXIV (ibid., 1853).
Pontifical institutions of higher education in RomeAcademy of Arcadia • Alphonsian Academy • Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon • Pontifical Academy of Science • Pontifical Academy of Theology • Pontifical Academy of Archaeology • Pontifical Academy of Martyrs • Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas • Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate Conception • Pontifical Academy of Mary • Pontifical Academy for Life • Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences
Other pontifical institutions of higher educationPontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum • Pontificio Ateneo Sant Anselmo • Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies • Pontifical Biblical Institute • The Pontifical Colleges • Institute of the Theology of the Consecrated Life Claretianum • Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum • Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family • Pontifical Oriental Institute • Pastorale Universitaria • Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music • Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum • Patristic Institute Augustinianum
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