History of the Orientale

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he Pontifical Oriental Institute was established on October 15, 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, a few months after the establishment of the Congregation for Oriental Churches. The new institute was declared in the motu proprio Orientis Catholici, which stated that “we decided to found a suitable place of higher education on the eastern issues in this city.” The Institute had its first residence in Piazza Scossacavalli at the Hospice of Convertendi. Academic life began on December 2, 1918.

Pope Benedict the XV - Pontifical Oriental Institute
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he first president of the Institute was Alfred Ildefonso Schuster, abbot of St. Paul (outside of the walls), and then the Archbishop of Milan. In 1920 Benedict XV gave the Institute the right to confer academic degrees in theology. Twenty year later, evoking that “this is a grand design to build a bridge between the East and the West”, the ex-president Schuster stated that: “in the concept of Benedict XV, the Pontifical Oriental Institute had to be like an academy, or a theological university, dedicated exclusively to the study of the various theological subjects cultivated in the East” (Benedict XV and the union of the Churches, the conference held at the Catholic University in 1940).

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n 1922, Pope Pius XI entrusted the Oriental Institute to the Society of Jesus, transferring it from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Piazza della Pilotta. Four years later, the Institute received its present location in Piazza S. Maria Maggiore. Mindful of his previous contributions towards the Ambrosian Library, Pius XI was a generous patron of the Institute’s Library, which is one of the richest libraries in the world on the Christian East.

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he first president of the Institute was Alfred Ildefonso Schuster, abbot of St. Paul (outside of the walls), and then the Archbishop of Milan. In 1920 Benedict XV gave the Institute the right to confer academic degrees in theology. Twenty year later, evoking that “this is a grand design to build a bridge between the East and the West”, the ex-president Schuster stated that: “in the concept of Benedict XV, the Pontifical Oriental Institute had to be like an academy, or a theological university, dedicated exclusively to the study of the various theological subjects cultivated in the East” (Benedict XV and the union of the Churches, the conference held at the Catholic University in 1940).

A saint from the Orientale - Pontifical Oriental Institute
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n 1922, Pope Pius XI entrusted the Oriental Institute to the Society of Jesus, transferring it from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Piazza della Pilotta. Four years later, the Institute received its present location in Piazza S. Maria Maggiore. Mindful of his previous contributions towards the Ambrosian Library, Pius XI was a generous patron of the Institute’s Library, which is one of the richest libraries in the world on the Christian East.

Pius XII signature
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n 1928 Pius XI’s encyclical Rerum Orientalium was issued to urge bishops to send to the Institute the future professors of eastern studies. In the same year, with the motu proprio Quod Maxime, the Pontiff united the Oriental Institute, the Biblical Institute, and the Gregorian University, thus forming the Gregorian Consortium. These three institutions, entrusted to the Society of Jesus and coordinated by the Prefect of the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities with the title of Great Chancellor, were intended for intensive cooperation.

History of the Pontifical Oriental Institute
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n 1971, the Faculty of Oriental Canon Law collaborated with the Faculty of Oriental Ecclesiastical Studies in the elaboration of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

History of the Pontifical Oriental Institute
Cardinal Sandri - Pontifical Oriental Institute
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ince 1993 the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches has been the Grand Chancellor of the Institute, today in the person of His Em. Rev. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. “With a view to promoting closer cooperation and unity of purpose between the aforesaid Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, ‘it is understood that’ no relations are altered with the Congregation for Catholic Education which are required by the Constitution Sapientia Christiana “(Rescript of the Secretary of State of 31.05.1993; cf. service information for the Oriental Churches 48 [1993] 30-31).

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ince 1993 the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches has been the Grand Chancellor of the Institute, today in the person of His Em. Rev. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. “With a view to promoting closer cooperation and unity of purpose between the aforesaid Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, ‘it is understood that’ no relations are altered with the Congregation for Catholic Education which are required by the Constitution Sapientia Christiana “(Rescript of the Secretary of State of 31.05.1993; cf. service information for the Oriental Churches 48 [1993] 30-31).

Cardinal Sandri - Pontifical Oriental Institute