News & Events

A Bumper Crop of Cardinals

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Many congratulations to Archbishop Arthur Roche who will be made a Cardinal by Pope Francis with twenty-one others on 27 August. Archbishop Arthur studied for his licence here at the English College as a priest and went on to become Spiritual Director for a number of years. He has been a great friend to the College. The photo shows him visiting us for Acolytate a couple of weeks ago.

We pray for him and for the others as they prepare to take on this important role.

Here is the full list:

  • Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (United Kingdom).
  • Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Prefect for the Congregation for Clergy (South Korea).
  • Fernando Vergez Alzaga, President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State (Spain).
  • Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline, of Marseille (France).
  • Archbishop Peter Okpaleke, of Ekwulobia (Nigeria).
  • Archbishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, of Manaus (Brazil).
  • Archbishop Filipe Neri António Sebastião of Rosário Ferrão, of Goa e Damão (India).
  • Bishop Robert Walter McElroy, of San Diego (United States)
  • Archbishop Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, of Dili (East Timor).
  • Bishop Oscar Cantoni, of Como (Italy).
  • Archbishop Anthony Poola, of Hyderabad (India).
  • Archbishop Paulo Cezar Costa,, of Brasília (Brazil).
  • Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr M. Afr, of Wa (Ghana).
  • Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye, of Singapore (Singapore).
  • Archbishop Adalberto Martínez Flores, of Asunción (Paraguay).
  • Archbishop Giorgio Marengo, Prefect of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia).

Five are over the age of 80:

  • Archbishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cartagena (Colombia).
  • Archbishop Lucas Van Looy sdb, Archbishop Emeritus of Ghent (Belgium).
  • Archbishop Arrigo Miglio, Archbishop Emeritus of Cagliari (Italy).
  • Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda sj (Italy).
  • Monsignor Fortunato Frezza (Italy).

Seven New Candidates

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Many congratulations to the seven men who were admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders on Sunday in the College church by Bishop Paul Mason: Hugh Donleavy (Liverpool), Mark O'Farrell (Waterford and Lismore), William Meehan (Hamilton, Canada), James Finnegan (Liverpool), Joseph O'Brien (Hexham and Newcastle), Martin Fyles (Liverpool), and David Bench (Birmingham).

A Night of Light in Rome

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Yesterday evening the main doors of the church were opened onto the street to welcome people in for a time of personal prayer or reflection. Following the "Night Fever" model that many churches have run, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for the whole time, with music, confessions in multiple languages, scripture passages for people to read, and opportunities for conversation. Seminarians and local sisters went out into the Via di Monserrato and the Piazza Farnese to invite people to visit and light a candle. The lanterns were a novelty this year! What a joy to open the church to the wider world after the restrictions of Covid, and to see so many people touched by their unexpected visit.

Heating Up!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Something of an early heat wave in Rome as the temperature pushes 30 degrees. This mobile florist came by a few days ago and parked just outside the College property - one of those beautiful, quirky sights that meets you in this amazing city. You can see the Bar Peru on the right of the photo, which is part of the medieval section of the College (from the late 1300s). And just beyond it, hidden from view, the church and the current entrance.

A Day of Grace in Rome: Ten New Saints!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Many from the VEC were present in St Peters' Square this morning as ten new saints were canonised by Pope Francis!

Called To Serve in the Holy Eucharist and Beyond

Friday, May 13, 2022

Many congratulations to the three new Acolytes who were instituted by Archbishop Arthur Roche in the College church on Wednesday evening. Please pray for Ryan Browne (Portsmouth Diocese), Viktor Torres Airava (Helsinki), and Mathias Ledum (Oslo).

Proclaiming God's Holy Word

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Many congratulations to the four new Lectors who were instituted by Archbishop Paul Gallagher in the College church on Sunday. Please pray for Jack Ryan (Portsmouth Diocese), Jonathan Henry (Birmingham), Ryan Hawkes (Portsmouth), and Ben Sinclair (Hexham and Newcastle): you can see them here holding the bibles that were presented to them during the liturgy by Archbishop Paul.

Feast day of the English Martyrs of the Reformation

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Almighty God,
who in our country raised up martyrs from every walk of life
to vindicate the authority of your Church in teaching and worship,
grant through their intercession, we pray,
that all our people may be gathered once again to celebrate the same sacraments
under the one Shepherd, Jesus Christ your Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Nordic Night

Monday, May 2, 2022

The College is proud of its longstanding Nordic associations: currently there are seminarians from Norway, Sweden, and Finland at the VEC. At first blush readers may be surprised at these connections, but the Catholic links between England and the Nordic countries are very strong and go back to the foundations of the faith in these lands in the Middle Ages. This year’s annual Nordic night featured Nordic cuisine, a Nordic quiz, the presence of two Nordic nuns (a Cistercian from Norway and a Benedictine from Sweden - visiting Rome for a formation course), and even a shrine to the Nordic saints.

Cafod Visits the Venerable English College

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Young leaders from Cafod's "Step into the Gap" programme were welcomed to the College on Wednesday for a tour, Mass and supper. They are on pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi for the week, for a time of retreat and reflection, and to see how different organisations are putting faith into practice.

Easter At The Venerable English College

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Despite one or two Covid scares in the week before, the College was finally able to celebrate a beautiful Easter Triduum. The seminarians worked incredibly hard to prepare and celebrate the liturgies, and to welcome friends from Rome and pilgrims from abroad. The doors of the College were wide open, and, with the recently relaxed social-distancing rules in Italy, it was at full capacity in the Church. The photos show the Altar of Repose in the Martyrs' Chapel from Maundy Thursday, and the main altar in the College Church on Easter Day.

Happy Easter to all!

Our Seminary Visitation

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Three of the bishops from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales have special responsibility for the overseas seminaries (the Venerable English College, the Beda, and Valladolid). They have just finished their annual Visitation: a chance to get to know the seminary, and to meet with seminarians, the formation team, the administrative team, and other colleagues. The photo shows Bishop Mark O'Toole, Archbishop Bernard Longley, and Archbishop John Wilson, with the Rector on the left. The College is very grateful for their support, encouragement, and prayers.

UK/Vatican Diplomatic Relations

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. There was a beautiful Mass at St Paul Outside the Walls, presided by Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State, with speeches after Mass by Mr Christopher Trott, British Ambassador to the Holy See, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. There were some great historic photos left around the cloister of St Paul's, including this photo of St John Paul II meeting the Queen; and everyone there received a very classy lapel pin! We pray for the work of Ambassador Trott and his team in Rome.

Spring In Rome

Monday, March 21, 2022

Spring officially arrives today, with the clocks going forward this weekend. Rome is warming up, and the pilgrims and tourists are back with a vengeance...

St Patrick's Day In Rome

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Several students and staff from the College were invited to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome to celebrate the Feast of St Patrick. You can see the fine building from the outside here, as well as the mosaics from the sanctuary in their chapel: "The Chapel of the Pontifical Irish College is dedicated to All the Saints of Ireland and has been reordered by the Slovenian Jesuit Fr Marko Ivan Rupnik and the international ecumenical community of artists at the Centro Aletti, Rome. The new mosaic was installed in March 2010".

Refurbishing The Archives

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The photo shows Professor Maurice Whitehead, the VEC’s Research Fellow & Director of Heritage Collections, sitting in the mezzanine reading room for the Archives, which contains much of the secondary literature used by visiting researchers. The beautiful table and the bookshelves on the left, and the floor, are new. The restoration of the Archives’ Office has been achieved in large measure through NAFVEC support.

Visit of Bishop Philip Egan

Friday, March 4, 2022

The College has been pleased to welcome Bishop Philip Egan from Portsmouth Diocese, who has been visiting the seminary this week. He came to see his seminarians and priests, the ones studying both at the VEC and at the Beda College.

Fr Sean Elliott Ordained In Leeds

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Many congratulations to Fr Sean Elliott, who was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood by Bishop Marcus Stock on Saturday in the Cathedral Church of St Anne in Leeds. Fr Sean was at the VEC for many years before completing his preparation for priesthood back in the Diocese of Leeds. We keep him in our prayers, and we wish him well as he begins his priestly ministry. Ad multos annos!

A New Semester At Seminary

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The second semester starts this week at the Venerable English College in Rome. Seminary formation, of course, is much more than the academic programme, but our universities loom large in the imaginations and timetables of the seminarians. The photos show the main entrance of the Gregorian University, run by the Jesuits, where most of the VEC seminarians study theology; and the beautiful courtyard of the Angelicum University, run by the Dominicans, where they study philosophy for their first two years at the English College. Please pray for the students and staff at the VEC as they enter into the second half of the formation year together.

Royal Connections Between Rome and England

Monday, February 7, 2022

Last weekend saw events in England to mark the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession in 1952. It is worth remembering that the College’s royal connections reach back centuries, to a time when England was considered one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. The English Hospice was founded in 1362. As its status grew, the English crown began to take an interest in the institution.

Richard III made donations, and by the reign of Henry VII it was known as the King's Hospice (he called it "noster hospitalis"). The roof beams from the medieval church, now in the Cardinals' Corridor, display the Royal Arms.

End Of First Semester Exams

Monday, January 24, 2022

Please pray for the College as the seminarians start the three-week exam period. Most of the Roman universities follow a two-semester pattern, with lectures finishing last week and the new semester starting in mid-February.

The photo shows the "First Library" (the reading room) in the early morning; the actual books are hidden away in the rooms behind. The paintings are of former rectors.

The Dedication of The Seminary Church

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Your prayers are requested on this day which marks the celebration of the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Church at the Venerable English College. The glorious new building, designed by Vespigani, was inaugurated on 18 January 1888, and stands on the site of the fourteenth century medieval church. "St Thomas of Canterbury, Pray for Us".

Evangelization Through Beauty

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The College is located in the heart of Rome’s “Centro Storico,” and is a short distance from the famous Piazza Navona. Those students and staff who remained in Rome over Christmas were able to appreciate a series of wonderful images projected onto buildings in the Piazza.

It's heartening that the city sees fit to display these Christian images for the benefit of the thousands of tourists and locals wandering through the streets of Rome. There have been a number of these projects across Italy this year, including some famous ones on the church facades in Assisi.

Celebrating the Martyrs of the Venerable English College

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Today the College celebrated St Ralph Sherwin and his Companions, Martyrs of the Venerable English College. Following a Vigil of Readings last night, a Solemn Mass took place at noon followed by a festive lunch. Then, the evening saw the traditional Veneration of the Relics and singing of the Te Deum before the Martyrs' Picture. The relics here in front of the altar, from left to right, are of St Thomas of Canterbury, St Ralph Sherwin (the VEC’s proto-martyr), and St Edmund King and Martyr.

The College welcomed Archbishop Arthur Roche who presided at the Mass, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher who concelebrated - both alumni of the College. Please pray for the VEC on its patronal feast day.

1,350 years of priestly service!

Friday, November 26, 2021

One of the wonderful highlights of the year at the College is the Jubilarians’ visit. This year the seminary welcomed 27 priests and one archbishop from England and Wales who are celebrating significant anniversaries: 40, 50 or 60 years since their priestly ordination. In total this gathering represents 1,350 years of priestly service! Such faithfulness is an inspiration to all at the Venerable English College.

Fr Gerry Ewing shared some sage advice: "Have a seriousness of purpose and a lightness of touch". Archbishop Bernard Longley pointed out how the Jubilarians see the priesthood of the future in the seminarians, and the seminarians see the priests they will become in a few years' time. Fr Stephen spoke about the vision of Cardinal William Allen, who founded the English College as a seminary that would form missionary priests, when so many other voices wanted it to be a refuge where people could hide away until better times emerged in Elizabethan England.

Mass was celebrated in the College church. The photo shows all present facing the Martyrs' Picture and praying the Te Deum at the end of Mass. All enjoyed a fine dinner afterwards in the refectory, during which a toast was raised to the Jubilarians.

Canada/England Connections

Friday, November 12, 2021

The VEC has welcomed Bishop Wayne Lobsinger, Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Hamilton in Canada. Bishop Lobsinger is visiting William, the College’s Hamilton seminarian, and getting to know the VEC and its history, before travelling on to the Royal English College in Valladolid, Spain. Please keep Bishop Lobsinger, William, and the Diocese of Hamilton in your prayers.

The VEC’s new Rector, Fr Stephen Wang

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Fr Wang has now begun his role as Rector of the College. Having completed his Italian language course in Assisi, he has been busy planning and setting priorities for the 25 seminarians and 4 priests studying at the VEC. “We invite all our friends to keep our students in their prayers,” commented Fr Wang; and of the core activity of priestly formation he added, “It is our privilege to play a part in preparing the next generation of priests for this life-giving ministry.”

The VEC on EWTN News

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Monsignor Whitmore, Rector of the VEC, was interviewed for EWTN’s News Nightly program on July 19th. Monsignor speaks about the seminary and about the archival collections, highlighting the ancient pilgrim books, the Liber Ruber recording the names of every VEC student, a letter from St. Charles Borromeo, and some of the North American material in the collections.

North American Agency Papers featured by ACHA

Monday, June 28, 2021

From 1821 to 1835, the North American Agency was based at the VEC in Rome. Under this arrangement, successive Rectors of the VEC acted as agents of the American Catholic hierarchy, serving as “middle men” between them and the various departments of the papal Curia in Rome. The North American Agency Papers from the VEC Archives are featured in this week’s #HiddenCatholicCollection by the American Catholic Historical Association.

Read more on ACHA website »

New Rector Announced

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

On 19th March it was announced that Fr Stephen Wang has been appointed as the new Rector of the Venerable English College. He will succeed the current Rector, Mgr Philip Whitmore (seen above), who has led the College since 2013. A term of seven to eight years is usual for a Rector of the VEC.

Fr Wang, who studied at the VEC, will begin his ministry as Rector at the start of the new academic year and will be taking up the reins in August. He is at present a university Chaplain in London. Fr Wang was born in London and was in priestly formation at the VEC from 1992 to 1997.

Current plans are for Mgr Whitmore to return to the Archdiocese of Westminster – but not before advancing several ground-breaking initiatives recently begun under his watch and, above all, ensuring the continued discernment and formation of those in his charge.

Mgr Whitmore commented, “It has been a joy and a privilege to serve as Rector of the VEC these past eight years. I wish Father Stephen every blessing as he takes up his new appointment and I am confident that, under his leadership, the College will go from strength to strength.”

Memory, Martyrs, and Mission

Friday, December 18, 2020

Memory, Martyrs, and Mission. Book cover detail.

December 29th, 2020 marked the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The English Hospice, founded in Rome in 1362 for pilgrims from England and Wales, was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity and St Thomas of Canterbury.

The transformation in 1579 of the Hospice into a new English College in Rome, preparing priests for the dangerous post-Reformation mission to England and Wales, engendered further martyrdoms, with 44 members of the College being executed for serving as priests on the mission.

The VEC has produced an impressive new book to mark this occasion titled Memory, Martyrs, and Mission. Essays to Commemorate the 850th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket (c. 1118–1170).

About the book

The book and e-book are available for purchase at:

Please consider making a donation to NAFVEC

The VEC's New Men

Thursday, November 19, 2020

It’s been a roller coaster start to the academic year for the VEC’s new students, what with lockdowns and distance learning. That has not dampened the enthusiasm of these fine men though…

Martyrs' Day 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Between 1581 and 1679, 44 VEC students were martyred for the Faith, among them 10 who were canonized in 1970. When news of a martyrdom reached the College, students gathered in front of the Martyrs’ Picture hanging above the high altar to sing a Te Deum.

This practice is continued each year on 1st December — the Feast of the College Martyrs. In keeping with tradition, veneration of the relic of St Ralph Sherwin — the VEC’s protomartyr — also takes place, and those present give thanks to God for the witness of all the priests formed at the VEC.