5 November 2003
PRESIDENT MARY MC ALEESE TO ATTEND CELEBRATIONS MARKING
THE 375TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION
OF THE PONTIFICAL IRISH COLLEGE IN ROME
PAPAL AUDIENCE FOR COLLEGE COMMUNITY TODAY
Her Excellency President Mary Mc Aleese will take part in the celebrations for
the 375th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Irish College in Rome
on Thursday 6th November 2003. The celebrations will also be attEnded by Cardinal
Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Desmond Connell,
Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh (a former Rector
of the Irish College), representatives of Church and State and members of the
Irish community living in Rome.
November 6th is the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland, traditionally the patronal
feast of the College. Included in the programme are two lectures on the history
and ongoing contribution of the Irish College to religion and education in Ireland
and beyond, and they will be given by Rev Dr Thomas O’Connor and Professor John
Coolahan, both of NUI Maynooth. A monument to the many Irish Colleges that were
scattered over continental Europe, by the Cork artist Ken Thompson, will be unveiled
by President McAleese.
The event will also include the publication of the manuscript history of the foundation
of the College which was presented to the Pope earlier today. Originally written in
Latin to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the College in 1678,
this is a fascinating description of the struggle, imagination, courage, hope and
angst experienced by the small group of Irish exiles and their Italian friends as
they brought to fruition their dream of having an Irish College in Rome. The work
is particularly significant in that it provides a unique insight into the Irish
Catholic community at a time when it was suffering political and religious persecution.
St Oliver Plunkett was a student at the College during this period.
The College community was received in Audience today (November 5th) by Pope John Paul
II who personally extended “a special greeting to the group from the Pontifical Irish
Founded in 1628, the Irish College is the oldest Irish seminary and the inheritor of
the long tradition of such colleges on the European mainland. Today, the College
continues its original mission of preparing candidates for the diocesan priesthood
in Ireland. It is also home to students from 13 other countries who are studying
in many of Rome’s ecclesiastical universities. The College is governed by the
Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education and by the Irish Episcopal Conference.
The present Rector, the 52nd in the College’s history, is Monsignor Liam Bergin from
the Diocese of Ossory.
The College also serves as the focal point for the growing Irish community in Rome,
and is a point of reference for Irish pilgrims, tourists and couples who marry in Rome.
It also provides a vibrant point of contact between Irish and Italian culture.
Further details can be found on the website of the Pontifical Irish College: www.irishcollege.org
5th November 2003
Pontifical Irish College, Rome: (0039) 06 772631
Catholic Communications Office: (01) 505 3000
Fr Martin Clarke: (087) 220 8044
Ms Brenda Drumm: (087) 233 7797