Evolving perspective

Here’s an intriguing question. What school was founded by a saint almost a half millennium ago and now can claim among its alumni/ae 72 saints, 17 popes (eight of the last 11), about one-third of the College of Cardinals, and more than 900 living bishops? Here is a hint: the individual who developed the calendar which is universally used today was a professor at this institution in the latter part of the 16th century.

If you know that the Jesuit Christopher Clavius is responsible for the Gregorian calendar, named in honor of Pope Gregory XIII, you probably know that he taught at what is now the Pontifical Gregorian University known popularly as ‘the Gregorianum’ or – among its close associates – ‘the PUG’ or ‘the Greg.’

Founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1551 as a “School of Grammar, Humanity, and Christian Doctrine,” this institute experienced several changes both in name and in location in the ensuing centuries. Because of Gregory XIII’s generous patronage, it became known as the Gregorian University in 1580s. After the suppression of the Jesuit Order in 1773, the university was given to the diocesan clergy of Rome. When the Jesuits were “refounded” in 1824 Pope Leo XII returned it to that Order.

Today the university includes six faculties and four institutes and is located in four palazzos in the area around Piazza della Pilotta. It has 3,800 hundred students from 150 countries and six continents. Because it is a pontifical university, its degrees have full effect in canon law. Its curriculum and research programs address the disciplines of theology, ecclesiology, missiology, philosophy, spirituality, religion and culture, liturgy, social communications and much more. (Treat yourself to the video link on www.the-gregorian.com).

Especially impressive is the make up of the university’s students. They include Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim scholars, most of whom are clerical or religious but a growing number of whom are laymen (10%) and lay women (12%). And 65% come from countries other than those situated in Western Europe and North America.

Given that many once considered Christianity to be Eurocentric, one wonders what the founder of the Gregorian University must think as he considers the extraordinary global outreach his “School of Grammar, Humanity and Christian Doctrine” has today. How perspectives can change as the Kingdom advances!

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