Illyrian College at Loreto-2

1930 ca.
Photography, 210x135mm
Fondo Provincia Romana, vol. 565, fasc. 8
ASPEM Archivio Storico della Provincia Euro-Mediterranea, Roma

The presence of the Jesuits in Loreto dates back to the time of Julius III, when they were entrusted with the management of the famous Marian Shrine of the Holy House; The Jesuits were in fact appointed by the pontiff of the Office of Penitentiery in the Holy House of Loreto. The college was formally established by Gregory XIII in 1581; It was intended for students coming from Illyria-current Balkan peninsula-for their education. Over time the college also hosted students from neighboring cities-remembered in the documents as “Piceni”-and from the rest of Italy, but always retained its original “Illyrian” vocation : even during the nineteenth century, indeed, there were some entrances of students from Scutari and other Albanian cities.
The college was initially organized in some houses in the vicinity of the Holy House of Loreto. In the first years of the college, however, the boarding scholars were not numerous, so that for some years the Loretan college was suspended and the students were transferred to the Roman College in the Urbe to continue their studies.
Urban VIII provided further equipping for the college, which experienced its most flourishing phase from the second half of the seventeenth century until the eighteenth century.
In 1773 the Society of Jesus was dissolved, at the behest of Gregory XIV, and also in Loreto the Jesuits had to abandon the boarding school, that was took over by the Franciscans first, and by the Barnabites later. Devastated by Napoleon’s troops in 1797, the college was then handed over to the Jesuits after the Company’s reconstitution in 1814 by Pius VII, following numerous instances by citizenship and high prelates praising for the Jesuits’ return to Loreto. The Order returned to the college only from 1834, at the end of the renovation work of the building; Until that year the Illyrics were sent to Rome at the College of Propaganda Fide, at the expense of the Holy House, to ensure their education.
In this second phase of the college’s life there is the permanence of P. Secchi and his didactic activity, for which he avails himself of the cabinet of physics, specially prepared in those years.
The Loretan Illyrian College continued its activity until 1860, when, following the arrival of the Piedmontese troops in the city, the Jesuits decided to abandon the boarding school, while the decree of expulsion and confiscation of goods from the temporary government arrived . The premises of the college and the Basilica of the Holy House were therefore occupied, designated as hospital for the wounded and temporary housing of the troops; most of the furnishings, objects and linen were dispersed or stolen in those days of occupation.
The Jesuits returned inside the College from 1925, follwing the request of Bishop Mons. Cossio. They opened an apostolic school with boarding, but also for external students, the Istituto S. Giovanni Berchmans; they stayed there until 1942 when the college was finally closed and the institute was transferred to Cesena.
Today the college complex, which is no longer property of the Jesuits and which hosted the Pilgrims visiting the Holy House of Loreto since 1968, still maintains its architectural structure dating back to the nineteenth century.

Maria Macchi, ASPEM