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Pontifical Colleges

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In earlier times there existed in Europe outside of the city of Rome a large number of colleges, seminaries, and houses of the regular orders which, in one form or other, were placed under the Holy See or under the Sacred Congregation de propaganda fide. Of these only a few remain. A list of these institutions is given, with emphasis on the fact that their object was to maintain the Faith in England, Ireland, and Scotland. The English College of St. Albans at Valladolid (1589); the English College, Lisbon (1622); the Scotch College, Valladolid (1627); the Irish College, Paris (1592); the English colleges at Douai (1568-1794), Madrid-Seville (1592-1767), San Lucar (1517), Saint-Omer (1594-1795), Esquerchin (1750-93), Paris, (1611); the Benedictine institutions at Douai (1605-1791), Saint-Malo (1611-61), Paris (1615-1793), Lambsprug (1643-1791); the house of the Discalced Carmelites at Tongres (1770-93); the convent of the Carthusians at Nieuport (1559 at Bruges, 1626-1783 at Nieuport); the Dominican monasteries at Bornheim (1658-1794) and at Louvain (1680-1794); the monastery of the Franciscan Recollets at Douai (1614-1790); the Jesuit houses at Saint-Omer (1583-1773), Watten (1570, or perhaps 1600, to 1773), Liège (1616-1773), Ghent (1622-1773). Two of the Jesuit institutions, Saint-Omer and Liège, existed as secular colleges up to 1793. Most of the other monastic foundations emigrated later to England, where several still exist.

At the present time the matter is essentially different. In speaking of pontifical colleges the distinction must be made between those which have explicitly received the honorary title Pontifical and those which can be included in such only in a general sense, because they are directly dependent upon a central authority at Rome. It is a matter of indifference whether the institutions are called seminaries or colleges, as no material difference exists. There are only three institutions with the title pontifical: (1) The Pontifical Seminary of Kandy, Ceylon; (2) The Pontifical Seminary of Scutari (Collegium Albaniense); (3) The Pontifical College Josephinum, at Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. The remaining sixteen colleges at present under consideration do not possess this designation, which is a merely honorary title. The clergy are trained for the regular cure of souls at the American colleges at Columbus (Ohio) and Louvain; the English, Irish, and Scotch institutions at Lisbon, Valladolid, and Paris; the seminary at Athens; and the college at Scutari; the remaining eleven institutions are employed in training missionaries. There are in Europe the Leonine Seminary of Athens; the Albanian College of Scutari; the English colleges at Valladolid and Lisbon; the Scotch College, Valladolid; the Irish College, Paris; the Seminary for Foreign Missions, Paris; the seminary at Lyons; All Hallows College, Dublin; St. Joseph's Seminary, Mill Hill, London; St. Joseph's Rezendaal, Holland; the American College at Louvain; St. Joseph's at Brixen, in the Tyrol; the missionary institute at Verona; the Seminary for Foreign Missions at Milan; and the Brignole-Sale College at Genoa. In America there is the Josephinum College at Columbus, Ohio, and in Asia the seminary at Kandy, Ceylon, and the General College at Pulo-Pinang. Formerly all these institutions were under the supreme direction of the Propaganda even when, by an agreement or by the terms of foundation, the appointment of the rectors of some institutions belonged to some other authority. Since the publication of the Constitution "Sapienti consilio" (29 June, 1908), which considerably limited the powers of the Propaganda, it still has under its charge, according to the letter of the under-secretary of the Propaganda of 11 January, 1911, ipso jure the institutions at Kandy, Athens, Genoa, and Pulo-Pinang; later decisions of the Consistorial Congregation have added to these the seminary for foreign missions at Paris, as well as the seminaries at Milan and Lyons. All other houses, seminaries, and colleges are, therefore, placed under the regular jurisdiction either of the bishops of the country, or of a committee of these bishops, or of the diplomatic representative of the Holy See in the respective country, when the cardinal secretary of state has not reserved to himself the immediate supervision of certain institutions. Some of the institutions mentioned no longer belong, strictly speaking, in the present category; but it seems advisable not to exclude them, because the transfer is of recent date and they are generally regarded as papal institutions in a broader sense. Their former dependence upon the Propaganda is best shown by the detailed mention of them in the last handbook of this congregation, "Missiones Catholicæ cura S. Congregationis de Propaganda Fide descriptæ anno 1907" (Rome, 1907), pp. 831-49. This is also explicitly stated in the letter referred to above. Ten of these institutions are in charge of secular priests. The general seminary at Pulo-Pinang is under the care of a congregation of secular priests located at Paris, the Paris Society for Foreign Missions. The Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists) conduct the Irish College at Paris, All Hallows at Dublin, and the Brignole-Sale College at Genoa; the Society of St. Joseph has charge of the institutions at Mill Hill, Rozendaal, and Brixen; the Pontifical Seminary of Kandy and the Pontifical College of Scutari were transferred to the Society of Jesus; the Veronese Institute is under the care of the Sons of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for African Missions.

Pontifical College Josephinum at Columbus, Ohio, founded at Pommery (1875) by Joseph Jessing as an orphan asylum, was transferred to Columbus in 1877. In 1888 a high-school, in which the sons of poor parents of German descent could be prepared for philosophical and theological studies, was added. The philosophical faculty was established the following year, and later the theological faculty. In 1892 Jessing transferred his college to the Holy See, and it became a pontifical institution on 12 December, 1892. The college has developed rapidly and its financial basis is substantial and steadily increasing. The priests educated there are under obligation to engage in diocesan parish work in the United States. The entire training of the students is at the expense of the institution and is bilingual, German and English. The number of scholarships is now one hundred and eighteen, but it is not complete. By a decree of the Congregation of the Consistory (29 July, 1909), the institution was to remain under the jurisdiction of the Propaganda only for matters relating to property, etc. otherwise being dependent upon the Congregation of the Consistory. By a decree of the same congregation, 18 June, 1910, all priests ordained in future in the Josephinum are to be assigned to the various dioceses by the Apostolic Delegate in Washington, D. C. For the American College of the Immaculate Conception, see THE AMERICAN COLLEGE AT LOUVAIN. For the Irish College at Paris see IRISH COLLEGES ON THE CONTINENT. The English College at Valladolid (St. Albans) was founded through the co-operation of the celebrated Jesuit Robert Persons with Philip II. Its purpose was to aid in saving the Catholic Church in England. Clement VIII confirmed the foundation by a Bull of 25 April, 1592. In 1767 the English colleges at Madrid and Seville were united with this institution. The English College at Lisbon was established by a Portuguese nobleman Pedro do Continho before 1622 and was confirmed on 22 September, 1622, by Gregory XV, and on 14 October, 1627, by Urban VIII. The Scotch College at Valladolid was first established in 1627 at Madrid, where the Scotch founder, William Semple, and his Spanish wife Maria de Ledesma lived. In 1767 the property of the college fell to the Irish College at Alcales de Henares, but in 1771 was restored to the Scotch College, which got a new lease of life by its transfer to Valladolid.

For the College of All Hallows at Dublin, see ALL HALLOWS COLLEGE. St. Joseph's Seminary at Mill Hill, London, founded by Cardinal Vaughan in 1886, belongs to the Society of St. Joseph; it prepares missionaries for the foreign field. Connected with it are the two institutions at Rozendaal in Holland and at Brixen in the Tyrol. The Papal Seminary at Kandy, Ceylon, a general seminary for training native Indian priests, was founded and endowed by Leo XIII in 1893, and is under the immediate supervision of the delegate Apostolic for Eastern India. The Papal Albanian College at Scutari was founded in 1858 with money given by the Austrian Government, which had inherited from the Venetian Republic the duty of protecting the Christians in Albania. Soon after its erection it was destroyed by the Turks. The new building (ready for use in 1862) serves also for training Servian and Macedonian candidates for the priesthood. The Austrian Government has endowed twenty-four scholarships and the Propaganda ten. The Leonine Seminary of Athens was founded by Leo XIII on 20 November, 1901, to train Greeks for the Latin priesthood. The Seminary at Milan for Foreign Missions was founded in 1850. The Seminary at Lyons for African Missions, founded in 1856, is connected with four Apostolic schools; it has laboured with great success in Africa. The Brignole-Sale College, founded in 1855 by the Marquis Antonin Brignole-Sale and his wife Arthemisia, was confirmed by Pius IX. It has eight free scholarships for students from the dioceses of Liguria, and is conducted by the Lazarist Fathers for the training of missionaries. The Seminary of Paris, founded in 1663, for training men for the foreign mission field, is carried on by an organization of secular priests. It is the largest institution of this kind, and at the present time (1911) nearly 1500 of its graduates are missionaries. The General College at Pulo-Pinang for training a native clergy for Eastern Asia was founded by the seminary at Paris. The Veronese Institute at Vienna founded in 1867 for missions among the negroes is at present, after many misfortunes and disappointments, in a fairly flourishing condition. For the sake of completeness there might be added to this list the seminary of the Fathers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Scheut near Brussels, the Maison-Carrée of the White Fathers, in Algiers, and the institutions of the Missionaries of Steyl at Steyl, Heiligkreuz, St. Wendel, St. Gabriel (and Rome). These, however, are to be regarded rather as monastic novitiates than as seminaries. The seminaries established in earlier times at Naples, Marseilles, and other places for the Asiatic peoples have either disappeared or the foundations have been diverted to other purposes.


Of the large bibliography for the English, Irish, and Scotch institutions we may cite the important work by PETRE, Notices of the English Colleges and Convents, Established on the Continent, after the Dissolution of Religious Houses in England, ed. HUSENBETH (Norwich, 1849), issued for private circulation only. For most of the other institutions there are only scattered notes, annual reports, the Missiones Catholicæ already mentioned, and articles in works of a general character. Catalogus omnium cœnobiorum pertinentium ad subditos Regis Angliæ in Belgio in BOJANUS, Innocent XI. Sa correspondance avec ses nonces 1676-9, I, 221-2, gives the most complete details concerning names and personnel of the Englsih colleges. CAPPELLO, De Curia Romana juxta Reformationem a Pio X sapientissimo inductam, I (Rome, 1911), 248-53, where all the new rules are discussed at length.

About this page

APA citation. Baumgarten, P.M. (1911). Pontifical Colleges. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Baumgarten, Paul Maria. "Pontifical Colleges." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by WGKofron. With thanks to St. Mary's Church, Akron, Ohio.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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