Pontifical Urban University

Last updated
Pontifical Urban University
Pontificia Università Urbaniana
Stemma della Urbaniana.svg
Latin: Pontificia Universitas Urbaniana
Euntes docete(Matthew 28:19)
Motto in English
Go and teach
Type Private pontifical university
Established1 August 1627(392 years ago) (1627-08-01)
Affiliation Catholic (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples)
Chancellor Fernando Filoni
Rector Fr. Alberto Trevisiol, I.M.C.
Via Urbano VIII, 16
41°53′58″N12°27′35″E / 41.89944°N 12.45972°E / 41.89944; 12.45972 Coordinates: 41°53′58″N12°27′35″E / 41.89944°N 12.45972°E / 41.89944; 12.45972
Website www.urbaniana.edu OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Pontifical Urban University, also called the Urbaniana after its names in both Latin and Italian, [lower-alpha 1] is a pontifical university under the authority of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The university's mission is to train priests, religious brothers and sisters, and lay people for service as missionaries. Its campus is located on the Janiculum Hill in Rome, on extraterritorial property of the Holy See.

Pontifical universities are higher education ecclesiastical schools established or approved directly by the Holy See, composed of three main ecclesiastical faculties and at least one other faculty. These academic institutes deal specifically with the Christian revelation and related disciplines, and the Church's mission of spreading the Gospel, as proclaimed in the Apostolic Constitution both "Sapientiachristiana". Many of them, on the other hand, have most of their students studying secular topics. They are governed by the apostolic constitution Veritatis gaudium issued by Pope Francis.

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome is the congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for missionary work and related activities. It is perhaps better known by its former title, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, or simply the Propaganda Fide.

Priest person authorized to lead the sacred rituals of a religion (for a minister use Q1423891)

A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.



From its beginnings, the Urbaniana has always been an academic institution with a missionary character that has served the Catholic Church through the formation of missionaries and experts in the area of Missiology or other disciplines, necessary in the evangelizational activity of the Church.

Missionary work of the Catholic Church has often been undertaken outside the geographically defined parishes and dioceses by religious orders who have people and material resources to spare, and some of which specialized in missions. Eventually, parishes and dioceses would be organized worldwide, often after an intermediate phase as an apostolic prefecture or apostolic vicariate. Catholic mission has predominantly been carried out by the Latin Church in practice.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.

A Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity to new converts. Missions involve sending individuals and groups, called missionaries, across boundaries, most commonly geographical boundaries, to carry on evangelism or other activities, such as educational or hospital work. Sometimes individuals are sent and are called missionaries. When groups are sent, they are often called mission teams and they do mission trips. There are a few different kinds of mission trips: short-term, long-term, relational and ones meant simply for helping people in need. Some might choose to dedicate their whole lives to missions as well. Missionaries have the authority to preach the Christian faith, and provide humanitarian aid. Christian doctrines permit the provision of aid without requiring religious conversion.

The origins of the university date back to Pope Urban VIII who decided to establish a new college with his papal bull Immortalis Dei Filius of August 1, 1627. Pope Urban saw that it was necessary to establish a central seminary for the missions where young priests could be educated, both for countries which had no national college, but also those that did. A central international college would allow priests to make acquaintances and form mutually helpful relationships in other countries. The new college was called the Collegium Urbanum from the name of its founder and placed under the immediate direction of the Congregation of Propaganda (now called the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples). [1]

Pope Urban VIII 17th-century Catholic pope

Pope Urban VIII reigned as Pope from 6 August 1623 to his death in 1644. He expanded the papal territory by force of arms and advantageous politicking, and was also a prominent patron of the arts and a reformer of Church missions.

Papal bull Type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church

A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by a pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the leaden seal (bulla) that was traditionally appended to the end in order to authenticate it.

Roman Colleges seminary

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 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.

After the College's founding, G. Batta Vives, a Spanish prelate, donated a suitable building near the Piazza di Spagna. Under Pope Alexander VII, the Church of the Three Magi was added to the building. Vives established six free scholarships, to which were later added endowments by other pontiffs and prelates, especially Innocent XII, Clement XII, and the brother of Urban VIII, Cardinal Antonio Barberini. [2]

Piazza di Spagna square in Rome, Italy

Piazza di Spagna, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, is one of the most famous squares in Rome (Italy). It owes its name to the Palazzo di Spagna, seat of the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See. Nearby is the famed Column of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope Alexander VII 17th-century Catholic pope

Pope Alexander VII, born Fabio Chigi, was Pope from 7 April 1655 to his death in 1667.

Pope Innocent XII 17th-century Catholic pope

Pope Innocent XII, born Antonio Pignatelli, was Pope from 12 July 1691 to his death in 1700.

In 1798, following the disruption surrounding the creation of the Roman Republic and the Napoleonic Wars, the college was closed and some of the students were received by the Lazarists at Montecitorio. [2] This arrangement lasted until 1809, when even this last remnant of the college was suppressed. In 1814, however, some of the Propaganda students were again received by the Lazarists, and in 1817 the Urbaniana was reopened. From 1836 until 1848, it operated under the direction of the Jesuits. [2]

Roman Republic (18th century) republic at the Apennine Peninsula between 1798-1799

The Roman Republic was proclaimed on 15 February 1798 after Louis Alexandre Berthier, a general of Napoleon, had invaded the city of Rome on 10 February. The Roman Republic was a one the Italian "sister republics" of Revolutionary France and it was placed under the French Directory composed of territory conquered from the Papal States. Pope Pius VI was exiled to France and died there in 1799. It immediately took control of the other two former-papal revolutionary administrations, the Tiberina Republic and the Anconine Republic. The Roman Republic was short-lived, as the Papal States were restored in October 1799.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Congregation of the Mission society of apostolic life

Congregation of the Mission is a vowed, Roman Catholic society of apostolic life of priests and brothers founded by Vincent de Paul. It is associated with the Vincentian Family, a loose federation of organizations who claim Vincent de Paul as their founder or Patron. They are popularly known as Vincentians, Paules, Lazarites, Lazarists, or Lazarians.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Urban College was still housed in the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide in Piazza di Spagna. At that time, the average number of its resident students was about one hundred and ten. [1] Those resident students were necessarily from countries that fell under the responsibility of the Propaganda. Then as now, however, the Urbaniana operates its own schools, which are attended by other students not subject to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. [1] In fact, since 1966, the Urbaniana has accepted the affiliation of seminaries and institutes of philosophy, theology, missiology, and canon law from all over the world. The total number of students educated under the auspices of the Urbanianum was about five hundred in 1910. [1]

Palazzo di Propaganda Fide Palazzo storico di Roma

The Palazzo di Propaganda Fide is a palace located in Rome, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, then Francesco Borromini. Since 1626, it has housed the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and since 1929 is an extraterritorial property of the Holy See.

In 1926, the College moved from its historic home in the Piazza di Spagna to its current campus on the Janiculum, overlooking Saint Peter's Square. Its first home there was a relatively modest building, but it is now housed in a much-expanded group of buildings. [3]

The university was endowed with the title "pontifical" with the motu proprio Fidei propagandae of Pope John XXIII on October 1, 1962. [3]


In the seventeenth century, Alexander VII instituted a tradition of having all the students make an oath, binding them to remain under the jurisdiction of the Propaganda, not to enter a religious order without special permission, and to return after ordination to the priesthood to their dioceses or provinces to engage in the sacred ministry, and to send each year if in Europe, or every second year otherwise, a report of their apostolic work. [2] By the early 1900s, this practice was still done: every graduate student (alumno), wherever he may have been in the pursuit of his ministry, was bound to write a letter to the cardinal prefect every year, to let him know how his work was progressing and how he was faring. Catholic Encyclopedia reports that cardinal used to answer immediately with "a letter of paternal encouragement and counsel." [1]

In the early twentieth century, it used to be customary for the Urban College to hold an annual solemn "Accademia Polyglotta" at Epiphany, to symbolize the worldwide unity of the Catholic Church. At this event, the Propaganda students would recite poems in their respective mother tongues to the delight of guests. [1]


A view of the campus of the Urban University from the south Pontifical Urban University from above.JPG
A view of the campus of the Urban University from the south


The university, which is located on the Janiculum Hill in Rome, has four faculties: the faculty of theology, the faculty of philosophy, the faculty of canon law, and the faculty of missiology. The faculties of theology and philosophy are as old as the institution itself, while the canon law and missiology faculties are more recent. The Missionary Institute was founded on September 1, 1933, and split into the two faculties of canon law and missiology on July 25, 1986. [3]

As of 2004, the university educated about 1400 students between these four faculties.


The current library of the Urbaniana was formed from two pre-existing collections: the historic Urban College Library and the Pontifical Missionary Library, which were joined in 1979. [3] Today the combined library contains about 350,000 volumes, including over 9,000 directly accessible in reading rooms; 800 current journals and about 4,000 archival; about 50,000 microfiches; and documents from various specialized archives. [3] In the library there are about 1500 late-Medieval incunabula , a collection of rare atlases, geographical maps printed in the sixteenth century, and missionary catechisms from the sixteenth century onwards. [3] The library is particularly notable for its Chinese collections and Old and New Testament resources. [3]

University press

The Urban University Press handles publishing for both the university and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Although it currently operates in line with the criteria of modern university publishing, it derives from a tradition that goes back to the very origins of the Urban College and the Printing House of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. [3] Currently the UUP publishes the following periodicals: Euntes Docete, the scientific journal of the university, Ius Missionale, the yearbook of the Faculty of Canon Law, and Bibliographia Missionaria, a journal curated by the director of the Library. In addition to these, every year the press also prints the university Annales, which serves to review and record the academic and non-academic life of the university and its faculty. [3]


While the university is owned and operated by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, whose prefect is Chancellor of the university ex officio , as a center of higher education it is regulated by the Congregation for Catholic Education. Cardinal Fernando Filoni, as current Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, serves as the Chancellor; the Vice Chancellor is Archbishop Savio Tai Fai Hon, Secretary of the same Congregation. [4]

In its early days, the rector of the university always used to be a Theatine and would serve as the parish priest of all who lived in the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide. [2] For centuries, however, the rector was a secular prelate (that is, not attached to a particular order). [2] As of 2015, the Rector Magnificus of the Urbaniana is Father Alberto Trevisiol, a priest of the order of Consolata Missionaries. He is assisted by Father Godfrey Igwebuike Onah as Vice Rector. [4]


Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church studied at the Urbaniana from 1969 to 1972. Lubomyr Husar.jpg
Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church studied at the Urbaniana from 1969 to 1972.

Alumni of the Urbaniana include American Cardinals John Carberry (Archbishop of St. Louis); Dennis Joseph Dougherty (Archbishop of Philadelphia); Francis George (former Archbishop of Chicago); and Edmund Szoka (Archbishop of Detroit). Prominent alumni from African countries include Cardinal Francis Arinze (Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments). Asian alumni include Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly (Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans); Cardinal Oswald Gracias (Archbishop of Bombay); Cardinal Nicolas Cheong Jin-suk (Archbishop of Seoul);Cardinal Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy (Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches); Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu (Archbishop of Bangkok); Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (Archbishop of Colombo); and John Tong Hon (Bishop of Hong Kong). African alumni include Cardinal Bernard Agré (Archbishop of Abidjan); Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (Archbishop of Kinshasa); and Emmanuel Wamala (Archbishop of Kampala). Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop of Kiev-Galicia in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, is also an alumnus, Kanute Dindi Onyango (St Augustine Senior Seminary, Mabanga, Kenya, an affiliate of Urbanian); and James Raphael Anaparambil, Co-adjutor Bishop elect of Diocese of Alleppey.

In addition to the many ecclesiastical dignitaries among the Urbaniana's past students there have also been four martyrs: the Belgian Jacques Foelech (1643); Pietro Cesy (1680); the Armenian Melchior Tasbas (1716), and Nicholas Boscovich (1731). [2]

The first publicly known African American Catholic priest, Servant of God Augustus Tolton was a graduate.


  1. Latin: Pontificia Universitas Urbaniana; Italian: Pontificia Università Urbaniana.

Related Research Articles

Crescenzio Sepe Italian Catholic cardinal

Crescenzio Sepe is an Italian Cardinal and Archbishop of Naples. He was Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006. Earlier, he served as a priest in Italy and a diplomat in Brazil.

Jozef Tomko Slovak cardinal and Roman Catholic bishop

Jozef Tomko is a Slovak Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 1985 to 2001, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1985.

José Saraiva Martins Catholic cardinal

José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., GCC is a Portuguese Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, having served as prefect from 1998 to 2008.

Doctor of Canon Law is the doctoral-level terminal degree in the studies of canon law of the Roman Catholic Church. It can also be an honorary degree awarded by Anglican colleges. It may also be abbreviated I.C.D. or dr.iur.can., ICDr., D.C.L., D.Cnl., D.D.C., or D.Can.L.. A Doctor of both laws is a J.U.D., or U.J.D..

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic university under the Curial Congregation for Catholic Education, now entrusted to the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, or more commonly called Opus Dei. It was started in 1984 by Opus Dei, with the aim of offering the universal church an effective instrument for formation and research. Located in the heart of Rome, it has two campuses. One is in Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, northern area of Piazza Navona; Another is Via dei Farnesi near the famous Palazzo Farnese. Its stated mission is "to serve the whole Church by means of a broad and thorough work of research and formation in the ecclesiastical sciences, cooperating according to its special function with the evangelizing mission of the Church in the whole world."

Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy Catholic cardinal

Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy was an Indian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Roman Curia and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1985. His episcopical motto was Aedificare domum Dei which means "To build the house of God". He was the fourth cardinal from India and the first curial cardinal of Asia outside of the Middle East.

Agnelo Rossi Catholic cardinal

Agnelo Rossi was a Brazilian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals.

Christ the King Seminary is a Roman Catholic seminary in Karachi. It is located adjacent to the Portiuncula Friary. In its early years most of the faculty were provided by the Franciscans. It has been described as "the pioneering theological institution for the Catholic Church in Pakistan."

Paolo Giobbe Catholic cardinal

Paolo Giobbe was an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church who served as Papal Datary in the Roman Curia from 1959 to 1968, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1958.

Pietro Fumasoni Biondi Catholic cardinal

Pietro Fumasoni Biondi was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in the Roman Curia from 1933 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1933.

Carlo Salotti was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation of Rites from 1938 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in pectore in 1933.

Colin Francis MacKinnon Catholic bishop

Colin Francis MacKinnon was a Canadian Roman Catholic Archbishop and founder of St. Francis Xavier University and Saint Ninian's Cathedral.

Paul Josef Cordes German Roman Catholic cardinal and archbishop

Paul Josef Cordes is a German Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (1995–2010), and was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2007.

Giovanni Simeoni Catholic cardinal

Giovanni Simeoni was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Propagation of the Faith from 1878 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1875.

Pontificio Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide

The Pontificio Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide was established in 1627 for the purpose of training missionaries to spread Catholicism across the world.

St. Francis Xavier Seminary is situated on four hectares of land next to the Christian housing estate of Yuhannabad, 25 kilometers east of Lahore. It is an Institute of Philosophical studies serving the whole country. It offers a two-year program in Christian Philosophy. It is affiliated to the Pontifical Urban University of Rome. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan decided on 18 April 1990 to build this new seminary for philosophical studies in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lahore. The first group of seminarians joined on 1 September 1994.

Daniel Acharuparambil was a Roman Catholic Indian archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Verapoly in Kerela. Ordained to the priesthood on 14 March 1966, he was named archbishop and was consecrated on 3 November 1996.

Pontifical University Antonianum

The Pontifical University Antonianum, also the Pontifical University of St. Anthony or simply The Antonianum, is a Franciscan university founded in honour of Anthony of Padua in Rome. It is located in the Rione Esquiline, a block north of the Basilica of St John Lateran, at Via Merulana 124, near the intersection of Via Labicana/Viale Manzoni and Via Merulana.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Benigni, Umberto (1911). "Sacred Congregation of Propaganda". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 12. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Benigni, Umberto (1912). "Roman Colleges". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 13. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Note storiche" (in Italian). Pontificia Università Urbaniana. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  4. 1 2 "Autorità Accademiche" (in Italian). Pontificia Università Urbaniana. Archived from the original on April 28, 2003. Retrieved February 9, 2015.