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Pontifica Universitas Gregoriana
Motto Religioni et Bonis Artibus (Latin)
Motto in English For Religion and Culture
Established 1551
Type Private, Catholic, Jesuit, Pontifical
Rector Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J.
Location Rome, Italy, but partially extraterritorial of the Holy See Vatican City Italy

Pontifical Gregorian University (Italian: Pontificia Università Gregoriana) (also known as the Gregorianum) is a pontifical university located in Rome, Italy. Heir of the Roman College founded by St Ignatius of Loyola over 450 years ago, the Gregorian University was the first Jesuit University. Containing faculties and institutes of various disciplines of the humanities, the Gregorian has one of the largest theology departments in the world, with over 1600 students from over 130 countries.

The Pontifical Gregorian University.



St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit order) established a "School of Grammar, Humanity, and Christian Doctrine. Free [1]" on February 18, 1551 in a house at the base of the Capitoline Hill. St. Francis Borgia, the vice-king of Catalonia (who became a Jesuit himself) provided financial patronage. With a small library connected to it, this school was called the Collegio Romano (Roman College). Within the first year, due to the number of students, the site was transferred to a larger facility behind the church of San Stefano del Cacco. After only two years of existence, the Roman College already counted 250 alumni.

St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Roman College in 1551.

In January of 1556, Pope Paul IV authorized the College to confer academic degrees in theology and philosophy, thereby raising the school to the rank of university. During the following two decades, due once again to an increased number of students, the university changed seats twice. During this period, a chair in moral philosophy was added, and a chair in Arabic was added to the already existing chairs in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. With the university counting more than a thousand pupils at this point, Pope Gregory XIII wished to give it a more suitable headquarters. Two blocks near the Via del Corso were expropriated, and the architect Bartolomeo Ammannati was commissioned to design a grand new edifice for the institute. The new building was inaugurated in 1584, in what became known as the Piazza Collegio Romano, across from the Doria Pamphilj Palace. For his sponsorship of the Roman College, Gregory XIII became known as its "founder and father", and from that point the school acquired the title of the "Gregorian University".

The university in its new space was able to augment the number of disciplines that were taught. New chairs of Church history and liturgy were added. At this time the university also attained great prestige in the fields of mathematics, physics, and astronomy. The "Gregorian calendar", so called since it was established by Gregory XIII, and currently in use the world over, was developed by the Jesuit Christopher Clavius, a professor of the university at the time. The illustrious Jesuit mathematician, physicist, and inventor Athanasius Kircher also taught at the university during this period. Not long after the new quarters were opened, the student body increased to over two thousand. The university chapel, too small for so many students, was rebuilt as the Church of Sant' Ignazio between 1626 and 1650, becoming one of the major baroque churches of the area.

In 1773, following the suppression of the Society of Jesus, the university was given over to diocesan clergy of Rome. It was reverted to the Jesuits on May 17, 1824, by Pope Leo XII, after the refoundation of their order.

The previous site of the Gregorian University, now a public high school.
The current site of the Gregorian University with the Ammannati-designed façade.

Following the takeover of Rome by revolutionary army of the new Kingdom of Italy in 1870, the new Italian government confiscated the property of the university, which forced the university to transfer once again, this time to the Palazzo Borromeo on the Via del Seminario. It was at this point that Pope Pius IX permitted the school to assume the title of "Pontifical University". With the difficult situation after Rome's takeover, the academic endeavors of the university were dramatically affected. Due to a lack of space the university had to drop all faculties except for theology and philosophy. The number of students had dropped dramatically as well because of the dislocation, so that in 1875, no more than 250 students were numbered. However, the university was able to gradually build itself up again. In 1876, the Faculty of Canon Law was transferred from the University of Rome La Sapienza to the Gregorian, and the university was gradually able to reassume the teaching of many disciplines.

After World War I, Pope Benedict XV and later Pope Pius XI worked to create a new site for the university that would be better suited to its needs, since it was still operating out of the Palazzo Borromeo. Pope Benedict was able to acquire an area at the base of the Quirinal Hill, adjacent to another school under the Jesuits, the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Benedict's successor, Pope Pius XI, laid the first stone of the new seat of the university on December 27, 1924. Designed by the architect Giulio Barluzzi in the neoclassical style, the new edifice was completed by 1930.

After assuming its new location the university continued to expand, both in the number of faculties and disciplines taught, as well as in its geographic site. Today the Gregorian University includes six faculties and four institutes, and is located in four palazzos in the area around Piazza della Pilotta.

Today, the university has about 3,000 students from more than 130 countries. The majority of the students at the Gregorian are priests, seminarians, and members of religious orders. The majority of the professors are of the Jesuit order. However in recent years, there has been a higher representation of laity in both the faculty and student body.

Since the Gregorian is a pontifical university, the Holy See accredits its curriculum, and its degrees have full effects in canon law.

Illustrious students and professors

Among the Gregorian's illustrious students are 14 popes, including

Other illustrious students include 20 saints and 39 beatified, among them

Other famous alumni and professors include

The vast majority of the Church's leading experts and members of the College of Cardinals hail from the Gregorian.



Other programs of study


The Gregorian University has an extensive library, consisting in nearly 900,000 volumes, particularly noteworthy in areas of theology, philosophy, culture, and literature. The library was founded together with the Roman College by St Ignatius Loyola. In 1872, however, the library's 45,000 volumes, mauscripts, and archives were confiscated by the new Italian state, were dispersed and partially expropriated by the Vittorio Emanuele II National Library of Rome.

Since 1928, the library has been located on the university's new campus. The majority of the library's collection (820,000 volumes)is housed in a 6-floor tower adjacent to the Palazzo Centrale. An additional 60,000 volumes are housed in any of the six reading rooms, which together can accommodate seats for up to 400 students.

The library's reserve contains many ancient and precious books, as well as many rare editions, including 80 16th century books.


Pope Benedict XVI at Pontifical Gregorian University

According to article 16 of Lateran Treaty, signed in 1929 between the Italian government and the Holy See, the Gregorian University enjoys a certain level of extraterritoriality. According to the treaty, Italy can never subject the university to "charges or to expropriation for reasons of public utility, save by previous agreement with the Holy See". It is also exempt from all Italian tax, and is included among those Roman buildings for which the Holy See has the right to deal "as it may deem fit, without obtaining the authorization or consent of the Italian governmental, provincial, or communal authority."

Gregorian Consortium

The Gregorian University is one of three member institutes that make up the Gregorian Consortium, the other two institutions being the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. The Consortium was created under Pope Pius XI in 1928.


  1. ^ O'Malley, John (1993). The First Jesuits. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 366. ISBN 9780674303133.  

External links

Coordinates: 41°53′51″N 12°29′6″E / 41.8975°N 12.485°E / 41.8975; 12.485



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