0 This week, the English college in Rome is celebrating its 600th anniversary. Yesterday, a garden party, attended by many of Rome's leading ecclesiastical a n d diplomatic figures, was held in the College. On Sunday next, the titular feast of the chapel which is dedicated to the Trinity, there will be a Sung Mass.
0 Here, REV. CRISPIAN HOLLIS writes about the history df the college in the past six centuries.
FEW people who visit Rome today will have heard of the English Hospice. Yet many of them 'will have visited it, for in the English College we have the direct successor of the old English Hospice, the sixth centenary of whose founding we are celebrating this year.
In the years before 1362, English travellers in Rome seem to have suffered much as any traveller does in any foreign country today. They probably could not speak the language and one would be surprised if the Roman inn-keepers lost much money in providing them with accommodation. It was with this in view that in 1362 a group of English merchants, resident in Rome, bought a house in the Via Monserrato from one John Shepherd, a rosary seller.
Their purpose was to provide some place of use and conveni ence " for the poor, sick, needy and distressed people from England".
This Hospice soon became the centre of English life in Rome and, indeed, in Italy, attracting all sorts of visitors and many students. In later years, they included many of that circle that Erasmus was to admire so much, men like Colet. Linacre and Charnock. Naturally. the Hospice had strong connections with the Church, and under Henry VII, at least there is evidence of a strong and favourable connection with the monarchy, too.
-E,OR this reason, it is not curl.' prising that Henry VIII's break with the Papacy dealt the Hospice a cruel blow. The Warden remained a Royal nominee, but more and more the establishment was becoming a place where Englishmen, exiled for their Faith, could meet.
Happier times seemed to be on the way while Mary reigned,
but the accesion of Elizabeth rendered any further connection with the monarchy unlikely.
In 1580. at the instigation of William Allen, the founder of English seminaries at Rheims and Douai, and Owen Lewis, like Allen an Oxford man and VicarGeneral to St. Charles Borromes in Milan, Pope Gregory XIII set up a college for the training of English priests in Rome itself. It is here that we find the link between the. old English Hospice and the English College of today, for the new college took over the site and buildings of the Hospice in the Via Monserrato. In the Bull of Foundation there is a clause which unites the goods of the Hospice with the College.
IN many ways, the first hundred years of the history of the College are its most glorious, for in that time, 410 priests were sent to the English mission. More than forty of these were martyred for their Faith, while at least 130 suffered imprisonment. Of the forty-four martyrs or the College, twenty-eight have been beatified so far.
Then, as now, the students of the College attended the Gregorian University, administered by the Jesuit Fathers, though nowadays it has moved from its old buildings near the church of San Ignazio.
At this University, the students have been taught by many famous professors, St. Robert Bellarmine and Suarez to name just a couple.
From its early days, the Jesuits had charge of the College. after there had been a rebellion against a Welsh Rector. Among its early Rectors was Robert Persons, whose name has been so successfully blackened by anti-Jesuit historians.
Even the Jesuit rule was not accepted too quietly by the students and in the first seventeen years of their rule there were three major "disturbances". They continued to run the College
Contd. from previous column
delegates were arriving all the time. At 6.30 p.m. I took shelter in .a church. It was impressive to watch crowds of boys and girls, mostly in the early twenties, struggling through rain and wind to attend evening Mass. There must have been two hundred in this particular church; each had a missal and the responses were excellentv made.
T WAS on my way to Avila. 1 Armed with a high calibre permit. I was privileged to spend two hours inside the Convent of the 'Incarnation and another hour in St. Joseph's Convent, founded by St. Teresa four hundred years ago this year. Few memorials to the saints in Europe compare with the memories of Avila. It is a very long time since I wept on leaving a town. Curiously enough, it is extremely hard to buy a good statue of St. Teresa anywhere in Spain.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
BY a happy accident the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar is called Ely and the Catholic Bishop, Healey.
until the sappression of the Society in 1773. when it was taken over by the Italian seculars.
IN the eighteenth century the fortunes of the College were at a very low ebb, culminating in the abandonment of the College when the French invaded Rome in 1798. It was restarted in 1818 when Nicholas Wiseman was one of the first students.
It was at about the same time that the College came under the rule of English secular priests, who have been its superiors ever since, and it can number among its Rectors, Cardinals Wiseman, Hinsley and Godfrey.
For the first time also since its foundation. the Cardinal Protector of the College is one of its old students, namely Cardinal Heard, who has his residence in the College.
Any old member of the Hospice Confraternity returning today would find it difficult to recognise his old house, for the College. has been completely rebuilt since those days, a work undertaken by Cardinal Howard and finished in 1685. The old church fell into final disrepair during the French occupation of Rome and the present one, which carries the same dedication. The Blessed Trinity and St. Thomas of Canterbury, was completed in 1888.
Little has survived from the old church except the tomb of Cardinal Bainbridge, the last Catholic Archbishop of York, the Dereham monument and the Martyrs' Picture, so called because it was venerated by the College martyrs, which hangs over the High Altar.
However, the old spirit of the Hospice is still preserved in many ways. The College still offers hospitality to many of the English bishops when they come to Rome and, above all, English pilgrims are always made very welcome.
So although, theoretically, the Hospice, founded six hundred years ago, does not now exist, yet for the English College, its successor, this has been very much a " live " centenary year.