2016-03-02 15:52:00

Archbishop Cushley on Scots College 400th anniversary

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Scots College this week marks exactly 400 years since its official establishment as a seminary in Rome for young men studying for the priesthood.

The anniversary on March 11th comes one day after the feast day of the Jesuit saint John Ogilvie, who was tortured and killed in Glasgow for refusing to recant his Catholic faith in March 1615. Inspired by his martyrdom, the sixteen young Scottish students who were already studying in Rome vowed to return to their homeland the following year.

During the centuries since then, the college has sent a steady supply of priests to Scotland, being closed only twice, when the French invaded Rome in 1798 and again during the Second World War. Originally located in the city centre, the College moved out north along the Via Cassia where the new buildings were opened by Pope Paul VI in 1964.

Pope John Paul II also visited the College two years after his historic  journey to England and Scotland in 1982 and Pope Francis has also been invited to celebrate the current anniversary with students and staff.

To find out more, Philippa HItchen spoke to a former student at the college – the current Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley…


The archbishop recalls the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie who was hanged at Glasgow Cross in 1615, inspiring the entire body of students in Rome “to go back to the mission and to live out their faith there”. He says they saw the terrible things that were happening to their colleagues at the English College and notes it took “a great deal of courage to decide to go back”.

Archbishop Cushley says the College is currently looking for a new location because the volume of traffic and difficulties with transport make access to the centre more difficult than in past years. He recalls that he was a student both at the College and then later at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in the city centre.

Currently, he says, the College has an excellent body of men training for the priesthood, while three more students have also been sent to the Royal Scots College in Salamanca, so “our numbers are gradually heading in the right direction”. Of course, he adds, “bishop are greedy, they always want more (vocations)….but we’re going to keep working at that”.

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.