The Irish College: a brief guide
THE IRISH College in Rome was founded on January 1st, 1628, by an Irish Franciscan, Fr Luke Wadding, and an Italian, Cardinal Ludivico Ludovisi, a nephew of Pope Gregory XV.
Having been appointed cardinal protector of Ireland, Ludovisi was concerned that his title would be an empty one. When he was approached by Wadding to help educate Irish priests in Rome, he readily undertook the task of founding the Irish College.
It was decided to leave the site of the old college at the Church of St Agata dei Goti in Rome and move to its present site on the Via dei SS Quattro.
After almost 400 years, the college continues to educate students for the priesthood in Ireland. It also accommodates Irish priests who are doing postgraduate studies in Rome, as well as seminarians and priests from other parts of the world.
In recent years, students from the Orthodox churches have studied at the college under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
There are 23 Irishmen studying for the priesthood there currently, out of 58 seminarians. The remaining 35 candidates for the priesthood are from 22 different countries. Currently there are 72 seminarians in Maynooth.
However, where most Irish people are concerned the Irish College in Rome is probably best known for weddings. An estimated 100 couples get married there every year.
In recent years, many Irish visitors to Rome stay at the Villa Irlanda there.