The locations of the Pontifical Gregorian University
In 1551 St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, founded the first school of the Jesuit fathers with its first library in a Roman palace (by now vanished) located at the foot of the Capitol, in the "Via Capitolina" (today Piazza d'Aracoeli), and this was called the Roman College.
The success of it was excellent, so that as a result of the continuous increase in the number of students it was necessary to carry out a change of location.
In fact, in 1584 Pope Gregory XIII inaugurated the new premises of the Roman College in a building located in Rome in the square which still exists today, and from this pope who was called the "Founder and Protector" it took the name of "Gregorian".
In 1773, following the suppression of the Society of Jesus, the College was committed to the custody of the secular clergy in Rome, then to be returned to the re-established Company on May 17, 1824 by Pope Leo XII.
In 1873 the Roman College was transferred to Palazzo Borromeo, in Via del Seminario in Rome, now premises of Bellarmine College, and in the same year Pope Pius IX, with the Rescript of 4 December 1873, allowed the College to assume the title of "Gregorian University"; furthermore, he also gave the Rector of the College the right to subscribe "Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University".
The new location of the University
But the University continued still to grow and the need for space along with it, so since the year 1919, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XV bought in Piazza della Pilotta the soil for the new University erection. Then Pius XI repeatedly expressed the desire, indeed the firm will, that no more its construction would be delayed.
The laying of the foundation stone with the usual rite was celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Bisleti on December 27, 1924, the day sacred to St. John the Evangelist, the beloved apostle of the Heart of Jesus: to his divine Heart was entrusted in a special way this noble and arduous enterprise.
It was an excellent situation in one of the squares more suggestively quiet and more characteristically papal in the center of Rome, at the foot of the Quirinal, facing the monumental Villa Colonna.
The facade refers to the type of the end of the XVI century, and of the old Roman College. The central forepart, entirely in travertine, has two windows staggered at the staircases, and ends high with two attics bearing the coats of arms of Gregory XIII and Leo XII, respectively founder and restorer of the secular Institute.
The loggia on the first floor, of the papal type, is decorated with the coat of arms of Pope Pius XI. The wings are of travertine to the first floor, and elsewhere of Roman brick curtain with the frames of travertine at the top. The low-rise junction building with Belvedere of Villa Colonna is all travertine.
Inside any ornamental distraction is avoided, while giving a sense of breath, serenity and well-being all around through the proportions, the refracted light and quiet spreading from the large windows, and through the color, for which students do not suffer from any sense of oppression and effort, but are willing and almost attracted to the concentration of so severe studies.
The direction of all the works of construction - complex and of great responsibility - was certainly facilitated by the illuminated cooperation and a cordial mutual understanding in the compilation of plans and details with the individual Jesuit Fathers designated by the Most Rev. General Father, who personally made account during the execution of every detail, so that the work could match in the best way with the aim that the Holy Father had intended.
Aa. Vv., L'inaugurazione della nuova sede della Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana, Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana, Roma 1930.
Aa. Vv., Omnium Nationum Seminarium. Dal Collegio Romano alla Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana 1551-2001, Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana, Roma 2001.