A Short History of the Faculty
* Popes have granted the power to confer academic degrees to the Servite Order from the very time of its foundation. Boniface IX gave this privilege to the Prior General on January 30, 1398 and it was later ratified and promulgated with even more favorable laws by his successors: Innocent VII (July 11, 1604), Paul V (June 6, 1606), Urban VIII (December 19, 1633 and January 9, 1639) and Alexander VII (April 10, 1658).
* On February 26, 1666, the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars canonically erected the Henry of Ghent College in the priory of San Marcello in Rome. The college had the power to grant its students academic degrees in Sacred Theology and with the Bull Militantis Ecclesiae (February 21, 1669) Clement IX approved the college’s statutes. After two centuries of productive activity the college was suppressed in 1870 but it was re-established in 1895 and renamed St. Alexis Falconieri College and in 1928 it moved to its present location at 6, Viale Trenta Aprile, Rome.
* Over time the college conformed to the norms set out in the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus (May 14, 1931) and on November 30, Holy Year 1950, through the Congregation for Seminaries and Universities Pius XII raised the college to the rank of Theological Faculty reserved for Servite friars. After a five-year trial period the Congregation issued the decree Caelesti Honorandae Reginae (December 8, 1955) which definitively approved the erection of the Theological Faculty, approved its statutes and confirmed its right to confer academic theology degrees on Servite students. The Faculty was officially called the “Marianum.”
* During the 1957-1958 School Year a two-year course of philosophy was established in Florence. At the same time a special Mariology Institute was launched for promoting and studying Mary’s role in the economy of salvation. The Institute flourished and the Congregation for Seminaries and Universities issued decree, Excelsam Matrem (March 7, 1960) that gave official recognition to the Institute and approved its practice of conferring a special Diploma in Mariology. The decree Multa Sane (March 7, 1965) granted the Faculty the right to confer a Doctorate in Theology with a Specialization in Mariology, and the right to enroll clerical and religious students in its courses.
* The Faculty rewrote its statutes and program in the light of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the 1968 Normae Quaedam. Greater emphasis was placed on the Faculty’s Mariological goals. On January 1, 1971, the Congregation for Catholic Education published a decree: Theologicas Collegii S. Alexii Falconierii Scholas that allowed the Marianum Theological Faculty to use the title of “Pontifical.” Along with the title the Marianum assumed all the honors, rights and obligations enjoyed by other Pontifical Universities and Faculties as well as the right to enroll clerical, religious and lay students and in the name of the Holy See grant them diplomas, titles and the Licentiate and Doctorate in Theology with a “specialization in Mariology.” After publication of John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana(1979) and the norms attached by the Congregation for Catholic Education, our Statutes were rewritten and definitively approved in 1986.
* On the evening of December 10, 1988, Blessed Pope John Paul II came to visit our Faculty. He gave a talk which was memorable both for its doctrinal content and for the program it set out for the Marianum and for the Servants of Mary in charge of the Faculty. He spoke about Mariology and made special mention of the Congregation for Catholic Education Circular Letter: The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation (March 25, 1988). It was, he said, “a precious document that I would like to see read, studied and seriously applied. This document defines the characteristics of Mariology: ‘It should be organic and an integral part of theology; it should be all-embracing – studying the person of Our Lady in the context of the whole of Salvation History; […] it should be appropriate for the institution where it is taught […]and the students involved.” (no. 28).’ The application of these norms from the Holy See will open new frontiers for Mariology.”
* In paragraph 27 of his post-synodal exhortation Verbum Domini (September 30, 2010) Pope Benedict XVI makes an interesting and important contribution to the theology of the mystery of Mary and the teaching of Mariology. What he says goes beyond the simply academic; they encompass the ongoing theological, spiritual and practical formation of the people of God; this cannot be ignored. As the Pope says: “In our day the faithful need to be helped to see more clearly the link between Mary of Nazareth and the faith-filled hearing of God’s word. I would encourage scholars as well to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word. This could prove most beneficial both for the spiritual life and for theological and biblical studies. Indeed, what the understanding of the faith has enabled us to know about Mary stands at the heart of Christian truth. The incarnation of the word cannot be conceived apart from the freedom of this young woman who by her assent decisively cooperated with the entrance of the eternal into time. Mary is the image of the Church in attentive hearing of the word of God, which took flesh in her. Mary also symbolizes openness to God and others; an active listening which internalizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life.”