Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

The Old Scots College

Via delle Quattro Fontane, Rome

Next month I’m off to Rome and the last time I was there I happened to walk past the old Scots College on the via delle Quattro Fontane. The Pontifical Scots College is probably the oldest Scottish institution abroad and certainly one of the most important, both historically and today. As Scotland’s primary seminary it has — almost literally — helped form the soul of the country, particularly during times of widespread persecution back in the mother country.

The church of Sant’Andrea degli Scozzesi (St Andrew of the Scots) was built in 1592 during the reign of Clement VIII, and early in the seventeenth century the church and neighbouring hospice were given over to the Scots College which had been founded a few years before. The seminary building itself was (I believe) built much later, in the nineteenth century after the college briefly ceased instruction due to the tumult of the French Revolution.

Sadly the building was not very well maintained and by 1960 it was falling apart. It was decided to sell the old college buildings in the Via delle Quattro Fontane and move to a larger site out the middle of nowhere in the Via Cassia. The move was made in 1964, and the Scots College has remained there ever since, while the old college housed a bank for many years and more recently a lawfirm.

Two years ago I met up with my old university mate Jamie — then a deacon but now a fully ordained priest of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. Oor wee Jamie (he’s nae so wee anymoor!) managed to put his Italian to good use and we finagled a peak indoors thanks to the kindness of the staff of the current owners, including a look at the now deconsecrated chapel. The building is now in exceptionally good condition and is on the market for the somewhat shocking pricetag of €60,000,000.

Returning the Scots College to its historic location would be logistically sensible. The old buildings are much closer to the Gregorian University where the Scots College’s seminarians study, and they would be allowed to participate more fully in the life of Rome, helping to develop the Scottish church’s links with Catholics on the continent and further afield. But the asking price is clearly beyond the realms of possibility — though Italians are always up for some negotiating.

A more realistic possibility might be a building swap with some centrally located institute looking for a bit more space. At any rate, a return to the centre of Rome would be a wise move for the Scots College.

Current photos (except that of Fr Jamie) are from Gruppo Gianni while the old ones are from the quite comprehensive website of St Augustine’s Coatbridge.
This post was published on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 2:10 pm. It has been categorised under Architecture Church History Scotland and been tagged under , , , , .
L G Clark
28 Feb 2017 7:01 pm

The Scottish bishops c 1965 seem to have been a notably dull lot.
Sell one beautiful and historic seminary in the heart of Rome, its stones hallowed by the blood and sacrifices of brave young Scots over the centuries. Who needs it anyway, this is the bright new forward-looking church of Vatican II!
Build a hideous and faithless concrete horror outside Glasgow (ahem) and watch it fill up! As it did, with puddles and every sort of rot.
Put stupid in, get stupid out.

3 Mar 2017 2:41 pm

Thank you for another beautiful article with a sound conclusion.

Father Halloran (the former parish priest of St. Andrews and the East Neuk) wrote a book about a sister institution, the Scots College of Paris, which was refounded in 1603 by the exiled Archbishop Beaton. He writes of a pre-history dating back to 1325:

(The question as to whether this “pre-history” counts as older than the college in Rome is comparable to the debates regarding the history of many German universities, such as that of Trier.)

Have a splendid trip to Rome,


Valeria Kondratiev
30 May 2017 8:33 pm

Beautiful restoration! I hope the building finds a good owner. I do think it would be good for the Scots college to be back where it was before the 60s.

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