In the year 1551 St. Ignatius de Loyola, founder
of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), built the first school held
by the Jesuits in Rome, with an important library, and this was
called the Roman College. Its success was so great that Ignatius
was obliged to find a new site in order to accommodate all the
In 1584, in the Place that took the name Piazza del
Collegio Romano, Pope Gregory XIII dedicated the new building of
the Roman College,
which is still in use. The University took the name ‘Gregorian’ from
this Pope, who was thereafter called its ‘founder and protector’.
The Roman College played a central role in the scientific debate
from the beginning. Among its professors of science, was one of
the most influential mathematicians of the XVII century, Christopher
Clavius. He was in close relationship with Galileo Galilei, who
also owed very much to the Roman College for his scientific background.
In 1873, after the unification of Italy, the University
was obliged to relocate, this time in Palazzo Borromeo. In the
Pope Pius IX accorded to it the title of ‘Pontifical University
of the Roman College’.
The University grew so much that in 1919 Pope Benedict XV bought
in Piazza della Pilotta some ground in order to erect a new building
to accommodate the University. The foundation stone was laid in
1924 and the building was unveiled in 1930. Piazza della Pilotta
is in the centre of Rome, on the edge of the Quirinale hill; it
is very near to the Trevi Fountain.