College of the Neophytes

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The College of the Neophytes,[1] in Italian Collegio dei Neofiti (Latin Collegium Ecclesiasticum Adolescentium Neophytorum or Pia Domus Neophytorum) was a Roman Catholic college in Rome founded in 1577 by Gregory XIII for education of young men, in an institution for converts from Judaism and Islam that itself been started in 1543 by Pope Paul III. Neophyte in this context generally means converts from Judaism, and neofito was often appended to Italian surnames to indicate a convert. From 1634 the College was adjacent to the church of Santa Maria ai Monti.

The first head of the Collegio dei Neofiti was Giulio Antonio Santoro (1532–1602), a powerful and authoritative supporter of Gregory XIII, and judge of the Holy Inquisition.[2] The purpose of the Collegio, in the plan of the Inquisition, was to train the neofiti, or "new Christians," to convert their fellows.[3]

The Palazzo dei Neofiti[edit]

From 1634 the College had a permanent home "at the Madonna de Monti," where cardinal Antonio Barberini, brother of Urban VIII, had constructed a new building, the Palazzo dei Neofiti, for the college.[4] Barberini also had the last catechumens from S. Giovanni transferred to the new institution.[5] Notable teachers at the college during this period included Giulio Bartolocci (1613–1687) a Cistercian Hebraist, and author of the Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinica or "Great Rabbinical Library."[6]

From 1713 the Collegio was allocated away from its original purpose of training missionaries to become a charitable institution, under the Pii Operai, or "Holy Workers." It is from this period that the title Pia "Holy" is appended, though the title Pia was not always formally attached, and Papal bullae record subventions to the "poor of the House of the Neophytes."[7] Like many charitable institutions music played a part in the education and life of the school but only two Latin graduation cantatas survive from the 17th Century.[8][9][10]

The college closed in 1886, and is now mainly remembered for having given its name to Targum Neofiti, when that manuscript passed to the Vatican Library.[11] The Palazzo can be viewed from the air on various tourist websites[12] and it is currently occupied by offices of the Roma Tre University.


  1. ^ The history of the popes from the close of the middle ages: Volume 11 – Page 583 Ralph Francis Kerr – 1968 "Gregory XIII. endowed this with privileges and assigned it to the College of the Neophytes."
  2. ^ Azariah de Rossi's observations on the Syriac New Testament. ed. Joanna Weinberg, Azariah ben Moses dei Rossi, Warburg Institute – 2005 "There is, on the other hand, a wealth of material regarding Giulio Antonio Santoro (1532–1602), a powerful and authoritative figure in the Rome of Gregory XIII. As 'Iudex sacrae Inquisitionis', and head of the Collegio dei Neofiti, .."
  3. ^ The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice, 1550–1670 – Page 248 Brian Pullan – 1998 "As is well known, the conversion campaigns were developed under Pope Gregory XIII: in 1577 he founded the Collegio dei Neofiti to train converts for missionary work, and seven years later issued a Bull urging Christian authorities who ..."
  4. ^ Lance Gabriel Lazar Working in the vineyard of the Lord: Jesuit confraternities 2005 Page 114 "The last piece of the puzzle came from the Capuchin cardinal Antonio Barberini (brother of Urban VIII, and supporter of S. Caterina as well), who in 1634 constructed the enormous Collegio dei Neofiti next door, and had the last .
  5. ^ Nicholas Terpstra The politics of ritual kinship: confraternities and social order 2000 Page 147 In 1634, the Confraternity's Cardinal Protector, the Cappuchin Antonio Barberini (brother of Urban VIII), constructed the enormous Collegio dei Neofiti next door, and had the last Catechumens from S. Giovanni transferred there.
  6. ^ Spain and its literature: essays in memory of E. Allison Peers 1997- Page 217 ed. Ann L. Mackenzie "Fr Giulio Bartolocci (1613-1687) was a Cistercian orientalist who became professor of Hebrew at the Collegio dei Neofiti in Rome, where he prepared his monumental Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinica (Rome: Ex typ. Sac. Congregado, 1675–1694)"
  7. ^ Charles Cocquelines Bullarium Privilegiorum Ac Diplomatum Romanorum Pontificum 1760 Page 56 "Um alias piae memorise Julius Papa Tertius Praedecettor noñer in subventionem, et alimoniam pauperis Domus Neophytorum ad fidem catholicam convertorum , íéu cathecumenorum Urbis nuncup. decreverit, quamlibet Synagogam, adunantiam ..."
  8. ^ Saverio Franchi Drammaturgia romana: repertorio bibliografico cronologico 1988 Page cxvii "Per il Collegio dei Neofiti alla Madonna dei Monti, dal 1713 affidato ai Pii Operai, mi sono note solo due cantate latine per laurea eseguitevi nel Seicento (cfr. IS pp. ..."
  9. ^ Carlo Bartolomeo Piazza Opere pie di Roma, descritte secondo lo stato presente 1679 Page 224 "Del Collegio de Neofiti. Alla Madonna de Monti. Il Collegio de'Neofìti, cioè de' Cristiani novelli e nuovamente istrutti nella Religione Cristiana, fu da Gregorio XIII, con sommo zelo istituito l'anno 1577.
  10. ^ Gaetano Moroni Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro 1847 Page 274 "Maria de' Monti con tutte le sue entrate, e con l'obbligo di tenere l'amministrazione del collegio dei neofiti e pia casa de'catecumeni, ferma sempre la giurisdizione del protettore. Verso questo tempo sembra che cessasse ogni cura ...
  11. ^ Targum Neofiti 1, Genesis: : Volume 1, Part 1 Martin McNamara – 1992 "Canonicus Schuller, the last rector of the Domus. In 1543 Paul III founded a Domus Catechumenorum in Rome for converts from Judaism, and in 1577 Gregory XIII founded there the Pia Domus Neophytorum or, to give it its original title,
  12. ^ View from the air, Rome Tourist Board website