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The Urbaniana University

  History (Ver.2008-09)

Urbaniana UniversityThe Pontifical Urbaniana University is an academic institution belonging to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. The University provides for research and teaching within the framework of the Holy See’s educational system regulated by the Congregation for Catholic Education.   

The origins of the Urbaniana date back to 1st August 1627, when Pope Urban Urban VIII decided to establish the Urban College with the Bull Immortalis Dei Filius, which was the very first educational institution within the Congregation De Propaganda Fide.

The Institute was granted the faculty to confer the Bachelor degree by the Studium Urbis itself, at present the University La Sapienza.

The Pontifical Urbaniana University was endowed with the title “Pontifical” with the Motu Proprio “Fidei Propagandae” of Blessed Pope John XXIII, on 1st October 1962, a few days before the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.

Urbano VIIIFor 300 years following its foundation, the seat of the Urban College was in the historical palace on Piazza di Spagna, where the Congregation  for the Evangelisation of Peoples is at present.  However, in 1926, during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI, the Urban College moved to the Janiculum Hill, to a modest, old  building that was later on replaced by the larger and more functional construction the University occupies today.

The particular task of the Urban College “de Propaganda Fide” and later on of the Pontifical Urbaniana University was to prepare priests, religious men and women and lay people for the missions.

That is why the University has kept close links with and followed the institutional objectives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples whose Cardinal Prefect is the Grand Chancellor of the University, the Supreme academic authority of the University.

Urbaniana: vista aereaIn its earliest times the University only had the Faculties of Theology and Philosophy that could confer academic degrees. Afterwards the University Urbaniana particularly focused on the development of mission studies and other subjects that could serve the evangelizing action of the Church. To this purpose it established the first faculty of Missiology and later on, the Missionary Institute, established by a decree on the 1st September 1993, was granted the faculty to confer academic degrees in legal and missiological subjects. On the 25th of July 1986 the Institute was split into two Faculties: Canon Law and Missiology.

Since 1997 the University has started a complete renewal. Within the Faculty of Missiology, the Institute of Missionary Catechesis, established already in 1970, and the Spirituality Section merged into the Istituto Superiore di Catechesi e Spiritualità Missionaria “Redemptoris Missio, established by the Congregation for Catholic Education that approved its curriculum and statutes in 1999.

Collegio UrbanoThe Istituto Superiore per lo Studio dell’Ateismo was established in 1960 which as a result of the recent historical changes and in keeping with the cultural challenges of a global world, was now given a new orientation and name and has become the Istituto Superiore per lo studio della non-credenza, della religione e delle culture.

In 1941, a language department was established mainly for the teaching of Oriental languages; later on a new section was added for the study of classical and modern languages as well. In 1975, the Centro Studi Cinesi was established along with the Centre of Studies and Research “Cardinal Newman” dedicated to the eminent former student of the University.

Urbaniana UniversityIn the year 2000, the Pontifical Urbaniana University, acknowledging the phenomenon of migration as one of the major challenges for the Church and civil society, resolved - in concert with the Scalabrini International Migration Institute (SIMI) - to establish specialization courses on Human Mobility within the Faculties of Philosophy, Theology and Missiology aimed at granting students a Master as well as the License and the Doctorate in Social Philosophy of Human Mobility.

On the 20th April 2004, the SIMI was granted legal status and merged into the Faculty of Theology.

Research and teaching are accompanied by the publishing activity of the Urbaniana University Press (established in 1979), which presently publishes the periodicals Euntes Docete, the scholarly journal of the University and Redemptoris Missio, a publication by the ISCSM, the collections “Studia”, monographs on the most topical philosophical and theological issues, “Subsidia”, textbooks for the study of various subjects, “Chiesa, missione e culture” and “Ricerche”, a collection of the most important academic dissertations delivered in the University faculties.

Each year the volume Annales provides an overview of the academic life of the University and its professors as well as of university-related activities.

Since 1966 the Urbaniana has started up academic relations with several Seminaries and Institutes of Philosophy, Theology, Missiology and Canon Law, mainly from Africa and Asia, but also from North and South America, Oceania and Europe. At present, there are 92 such institutions accounting for about 11,000 students.

Urbaniana UniversityIn the academic year 2005/2006 the Urbaniana had about 1,400 students coming from over 100 countries and approximately 200 teachers of whom about one third was from outside Italy.

Among the Roman Pontifical Universities, the Urbaniana has a special peculiarity just for its being a missionary university whose universal vocation is not only expressed by students and teachers coming from many countries of the world and a great number of affialiated institutes but also by its special focus on the cultures of peoples and the great religions of the world towards which the Catholic Church works to fulfill her missionary task ad gentes.

During one of His visits to the University on the 19th October 1980, Pope John Paul II addressed the students and teachers with these words: “Your University is, we could say so, almost a tangible and visible sign of the universality of the Church, embracing within Her own unity the diversity of all peoples ... The currently debated issue of the relationship between the Christian message and the different cultures emerges within this University in a very special way, always lively and topical.”

The Pope reiterated the importance of this task more clearly during the audience held on the 29th of November  2002 on the occasion of the University 375th anniversary, when the Holy Father highlighted the need “to pay special attention to the cultures of peoples and the great religions of the world […] Therefore, looking at the future we shall see the Urbaniana standing out among the other Roman Universities since not only does it pay special attention to the cultures of peoples and the great religions of the world such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism but also because it cares about the inter-religious dialogue and all its theological, Christological and ecclesiological implications”.

In October 2006 the Pontifical Urbaniana University established new Statutes and Regulations with a view to providing a more organic framework of opportunities in the field of education and strengthening its commitment in the scientific research.

 
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