A Glimpse of Rome

A Glimpse of Rome

Between the Years of 1948 and 1955

during the Pontificate of Pius XII.

by Canon Jim Foley

‘Therefore every scribe

who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven

is like the master of a household

who brings out of his treasure

what is new and what is old’

(Matthew 13.52).

While I am happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with Matthew’s Scribe in his loyalty to the past and his concern for the future, what follows is unashamedly concerned more with ‘what is old’ than with ‘what is new’.

I have rummaged through a nostalgic bag of correspondence and photographs which relate to some salient moments in a vocation to the priesthood, beginning with the Bishop’s decision to accept the candidate, up to the day of his ordination. Those who wish to have a glimpse into this world are invited to read on. During the period under consideration, 1948-1955, thirty-six students of the Scots College were ordained in Rome, most of them by the Pope’s Vicar, Archbishop Luigi Traglia. At the time of writing, June 2013, seven of us are still alive and one only is still a parish priest. In a sense what follows is his story.

 INTRODUCTION

 PRELIMINARY CORRESPONDENCE

 INSTRUCTIONS FOR NEW MEN

 THE COLLEGE STAFF

 THE COLLEGE TIME-TABLE 

 CUSTOMS v CONSTITUTIONS v RULES 

 OFFICE-BEARERS AND OTHER MATTERS 

THE SCOTS VILLA

 ORDINANDS DURING 1948-1955

 GLIMPSES OF STUDENT LIFE IN ROME

 GLIMPSES OF LIFE AT THE COLLEGE VILLA

 INTRODUCTION

What follows is no more than a glimpse into another world in the company of someone who lived through it with no regrets and with the deepest sense of gratitude for the companionship which has lost nothing even at a distance of 65 years. Nor, for that matter, is my purpose to offer an unfavourable comparison with the ‘new things’ that were soon to follow. Matthew’s scribe aspired to come to terms with new and old things simultaneously and to hold them in balance. In a sense this has proved to be as big a task for the Church today as it was when Matthew nailed his colours to the mast. It has proved to be an even bigger a task for those of us ordained during those pre-conciliar years.

I have resisted the temptation to add any kind of running commentary other than the few remarks that follow. I do so in the hope that the photographs will speak for themselves.

 PRELIMINARY CORRESPONDENCE

Under the heading of Preliminary Correspondence I have included two letters. The first is the directive from Bishop Douglas inviting me to travel to Rome to continue my studies. This was the outcome of an interview I had with him shortly after his arrival as first bishop of the new diocese of Motherwell.  My only other meeting with him was the day before he died, on 12 June 1957, two years after my ordination. A serious operation had deprived him of his speech but he wrote on a scrap of paper, quoting the Little Flower, La priere c’est tout. I am not likely to forget his parting message. The other letter is from the Rector of the Scots College, William R.Clapperton, assuring me of a welcome there and containing an attachment intended for ‘New Men’.

rogers.douglas.real.real

 clapperton.welcome.letter.real

INSTRUCTIONS FOR NEW MEN: 28 AUGUST 1948

Comment: The following is a copy of ‘The Instructions for new men’ enclosed with the above letter from the Rector. It appears to have first seen the light of day before the Crimean War and was printed year after year on a clapped-out Gestatner. It takes no account of inflation and the fact that the London Hotel recommended for an overnight break on the journey to Rome proved to be a bomb-site after the Second World War, whatever might be said of plus fours, breeches and long black stockings! Some of the items recommended would be equally suited to participation in the Olympic Games or an expedition to Kapmandu.

I CERTIFICATES: Students entering the Scots College Rome, must bring with them certificates of Baptism and Confirmation, and of all studies done beyond elementary. It is important that explicit mention be made of Greek, if this subject has been studied.

II OUTFIT: The College uniform, consisting of purple cassock, soprano, cloak etc., is to be obtained at the College. The complete uniform which should last about three years, costs about £20, which may be paid in instalments. All other necessary clothing should be brought from home. In Rome lay clothes are not worn by the students; so you will need no suit except the one in which you travel. Grey flannels are useful for tennis and other purposes. Bring a few soft collars to wear until you receive the ecclesiastical dress, and 2 or 3 rubber clerical collars. The normal clothes worn under the soutane are, in winter, plus four or long trousers or breeches, pullover and underclothes of the weight required for winter wear in Scotland; in summer, football shorts and light vests, which should have at least short sleeves. In both seasons, long black stockings, or long socks, should be worn.

A good supply of underclothing should be brought, as there are sometimes two sets at the 1aundry simultaneously. In summer, owing to the hot weather, a more numerous supply of the various articles is necessary.

All articles of clothing should be marked with your linen number, which will be 33. The College supplies cutlery, bed-linen and table napkins, but not towels. Bring also hairbrush, comb, clothes-brush and other toilet requisites. If you intend to play football or tennis, bring football boots and tennis balls, shoes, racquet and bring a bathing suit.

Every student should have a New Testament, Latin Missal, Liber Usualis, Latin Dictionary Greek Lexicon, Italian Dictionary and Italian Grammar (preferably Sauer). The Latin Missal and Liber Usualis can be obtained in Rome. The other books mentioned should be brought from home.

III JOURNEY: Apply at once for your passport. The passport office or travel agency will tell you whether you need any visas for the journey. These are to be obtained after you have the passport.

If you can, get in touch with a student home on holiday and arrange to come here with him. If you cannot do this, you will be able to get your ticket and necessary information from. Cook’s or other travel agency. Book well in advance of departure. On the Continent 2nd class

travel is in comfort and price, about equivalent to our 3rd class, and many trains have only 1st and 2nd. It is wiser on your first journey to travel 2nd rather than 3rd. Do not bring a trunk, as it is often a cause of great inconvenience on the journey. The lighter your luggage is, the less trouble you will have. If you stay overnight in London, the Wilton Hotel, Victoria, S.W.I, is reasonable and convenient to Victoria Station from which the continental trains leave. Book the hotel in advance.

IV ARRIVAL: The address of the College in Rome is Collegio Scozzese, Via Quattro Fontane l6l, Roma. The address of the country house is Villa Scozzese, Marino, Provincia di Roma. The College will be at its country house till October. All students must be at the country house by 8 PM on 2 Oct, in time for the annual retreat of 6 days. On arriving in Rome leave most of your luggage in the College in Via Quattro Fontane, taking to the villa only what is needed for a short stay. If you send word in good time, someone will meet you in Rome. The journey      to the villa takes about 2 hours, so it is advisable to arrive in Rome early in the morning or on the previous evening. If you are there before 10 p.m. you may stay the night in the College; if later, you must go to a. hotel. The Albergo Anglo Americano opposite the College is convenient.

V GENERAL: It is forbidden to bring or send money to Italy without a permit, to be obtained from the Bank of England through some local bank. Students are allowed more than tourists, but to get this you must apply for a Special Allowance. The whole amount for the year need not be taken out at once, as your bank can obtain leave to send money later. You should, however, arrange for this before you come out. Apart from the cost of the College uniform, you will need £10 to £15 for incidental expenses such as books, toilet requisites etc. Smokers will need more.

The College provides medical attendance, but aloes not pay bills of oculists or dentists. It is advisable to consult an oculist and a dentist before leaving home.

Students are allowed home for the summer at the end of 3rd year and, for special reasons, subject to the approval of their Bishop, on other occasions. Those who are not at home spend the summer at the villa, which they may leave for a week or two in small groups to visit other parts of Italy. 

 THE COLLEGE STAFF 

The resident College Staff during the years 1948-1955 consisted in four priests, all former students of the College and all from Scottish Dioceses. Their titles reveal as much as we need know about their complimentary roles and I have included them here because of the great influence each exercised on the student body. All have now gone to their reward and I have chosen to quote their obituaries which reveal their many qualities and something of the esteem in which they were held, not only by the student body during their period of office, but by many others with whom they came into contact in their ministry as priests elsewhere.

William R. Clapperton Rector 1922-1960
Philip Flanagan Vice-Rector 1939-1950
John Gogarty Vice-Rector 1950-1957
Michael J. Connolly Tutor 1946-1948
Hugh G. McEwan Tutor / Vice-Rector 1948-1957 / 1959-1965
Denis Meechan Spiritual Director 1946-1954
Thomas Murray Spiritual Director 1955-1957

To read their Obituaries please click on the appropriate name.

 

 THE COLLEGE TIME-TABLE

The College Time-Table, like the college menu, had not really changed since the Reformation. Today it looks just a little crowded! Nonetheless, it contrived to reconcile the domestic and spiritual life of the community with the demands of the Gregorian University. The observant reader will have noticed that Reveille on Sundays and Feast Days was half an hour later than on weekdays. The annals of the college record the experience of one student who forgot it was a Sunday and got out of bed at the earlier time of 5.30 AM. When I met him thirty years later he was still upset! The periods of recreation were divided between a short time after lunch and supper in the Common Room and an hour’s walk each afternoon. Since the college at that time was in the centre of the city, it was possible to visit every place of interest within the city walls in so far as such a project is possible in Rome. For those with greener credentials there were always the fine Pincio and Borghese gardens.

Weekdays:

6.00 AM Morning Prayer and meditation

7.00 AM Community Mass and Thanksgiving

7.45 AM Breakfast

8.30 AM First of four University Lectures

1.00 PM Lunch

3.00 PM Afternoon Walk

4.00 PM Afternoon Tea

5.00 PM Private Study

7.45 PM Devotions

8.00 PM Supper and recreation

9.30 PM Night Prayer

Sundays: As above except:

6.30 AM Morning Prayer and meditation

3.00 PM Solemn Vespers

3.30 PM Afternoon Walk

7.30 PM Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Monthly Sunday Recollection

Annual Retreat in October  

 CUSTOMS v CONSTITUTIONS v RULES

There hung in a dark corner of the College a document under the Latin title of ‘Consuetudines’. This document has long-since disappeared, fallen victim no doubt, to the auto-da-fe that followed Vatican II. The Rector was quick to remind the less erudite among us that the Latin title did not translate as ‘constitutions’ but as ‘customs’, two entirely different and often conflicting terms. Unlike Martin Luther’s 95 theses, customs were never meant to be framed and nailed to the wall, even in a dark corner. They come into existence and grow with the life of the community. Unlike constitutions, customs leave plenty of room for prudent and responsible deviation. That was the spirit in which they were understood by those of us who were aware of their existence. Constitutions may record the letter of the law. Customs reflect the spirit of the law.

There was another document circulating under the title of ‘College Rules’. Its ostensible purpose was to anchor the more abstract ideals of the customs in the cut and thrust of daily existence. A selection from this document was read aloud once each month in the refectory, more by way of entertainment than anything else. Let me offer one sample. The following directive appears: ‘If any of your furniture is missing report it to the Vice-Rector’.

It was, however, difficult to establish what constituted ‘missing furniture’ since there was no criterion against which to judge what furniture should or should not be in place. Myself, I was assigned to Room 48. There was, of course, a bed and a couple of chairs and a table-lamp, but the real centre piece was the desk. After years of watching The Antiques Road Show I now recognise it for what it was, genuine Louis Quatorze (1638-1715).  Unfortunately, much of the inlay had lost its shine during the Napoleonic Wars and much of the rest had been gouged out by generations of distracted students who had allowed their minds to drift from the job in hand to indulge in their own brand of parquetry. I confess I became very attached to that desk but was constrained to leave it behind as I climbed the ecclesiastical ladder. I hope my successors in room 48 got as much enjoyment out of it as did Louis Quatorze and I.

 OFFICE-HOLDERS AND OTHER MATTERS

The domestic life of the college was equally well ordered. There were certain Office-Holders, some more esteemed than others: Decano (Senior Student), Librarian, Sacristan, Infirmarian, Falagname or Handy Man, Biancchieria (Laundry) Man, Bell Man, Master of Ceremonies, Choir Master and Organist If these seem of little import to modern unreconstructed man it must be put on record that each appointment brought with it an opportunity to develop certain skills which contributed to the day to day life in the community and would serve their purpose in future years. Looking back I am now persuaded that important among these skills was the capacity to deal with the changing moods of the Rector who took a personal interest in all these activities. This dialogue, if I may use this euphemism, proved to be more of a battle of wits than a meeting of minds. As a former Infirmarian I pride myself in the knowledge that many of Scotland’s most distinguished churchmen had me to thank for their present good estate, although most have now gone to their reward.

I mentioned the college menu earlier. There was the practice of reading aloud in the Refectory during the midday meal. Ludwig von Pastor’s (1854-1928) monumental History of the Popes, in 16 substantial volumes, had been the preferred text for as long as anybody could remember. By 1955 we had reached volume 8 and we knew we had still a long way to go. By now (2013), they should have reached volume 16, which was published posthumously by Ludwig’s widow who was, evidently, the only person who could decipher his writing. The Lives of the Popes was eventually supplanted by the four volumes of The Second World War by Churchill. This was to provide one of the rare lighter moments when the reader was tricked into introducing the text with: The Second World War by Sir Winston Churchill S.J.

A further feature of mealtimes was the fact that they were eaten under the scrutiny of Apostolic Vicars, Cardinal Protectors and Popes whose portraits adorned the walls of the Refectory. At a meeting of the Scots College Society a motion was tabled for the Society to commission a portrait of Cardinal Thomas Joseph Winning to hang in the College Refectory. There was one dissenting voice and that was mine. For a long time I had harboured a suspicion that the large number of ordinands leaving Rome with bad stomachs could trace their condition to meals eaten under the scrutiny of our founder Pope Clement VIII, Cardinal Beaton, Cardinal Erskine, Bishop Hay, Bishop Geddes, Bishop Gray of Glasgow, Cardinal Gray of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, Cardinal Herd of the Rota and, for good measure, you could add Saint John Ogilvie. Tom Winning would have been in the wrong company and would have shared the blame for yet another generation of dyspeptic parish priests.

Mention must be made of Sermon Classes. These were conducted by the Spiritual Director on Friday afternoons in the refectory which was as big as any church and boasted a handsome pulpit for the use of readers at meals mentioned earlier. The pulpit doubled as the bridge in H.M.S Pinafore during our Savoy Opera season. On Fridays, without fail, we were served baccalá fish-cakes at lunch. Connoisseurs of Italian cuisine will know that this Italian delicacy should be eaten with a clothes-peg firmly attached to the nose. Notwithstanding, the pungent smell of this particular species of dried cod hung about the place for the rest of the day. Without putting too fine a tooth on it, to this day, I tend to smell sermons rather than listen to them.

It also fell to the Spiritual Director to introduce the theologians to the practical administration of the sacraments, a task he was well able to fulfil, given his years of pastoral experience. In those years it was argued that students for the priesthood who studied in Rome were isolated from their native pastoral setting and not sufficiently exposed to the realities of parish life at home. The debate continues in the hope that one day, before the next Millennium, a balanced solution will be found.

There were a few ‘Societies’ which each attracted a limited number students from time to time. The Dante Class met after Supper, as did most of the others, and was in the hands of the Rector. While there was no question about his command of Italian, his ability to communicate the finer points of the Copernican theory of the heavens as proposed by Dante was less accessible. The Debating Society attracted most the community and addressed itself to pressing questions of the day. Occasionally they were addressed by distinguished personalities of the political and literary world who happened to be in town. The Missionary Society had an unexpected visit from Monsignor Thomas Taylor who nipped all the smokers in the bud.

THE SCOTS VILLA

No reminiscence of student days in Rome would be complete without a reference to the college Villa, situated on the slopes of the Alban Hills at Marino Laziale, south of the city. The experience defies description. Only in recent years has the world at large discovered the wonders of the Province of Lazio but we had been there since the first students inhabited the old farm house in the 17th century. The view from the Villa across the Roman Campagna is simply stunning.

The dome of St Peter’s Basilica is just visible on the horizon through the shimmering mist of a summer’s day. In other directions Monte Cavo casts its shadow over the vineyards below with Rocca di Papa nestling near the top. The Bell Tower of the Greek monastery, San Nilo, across the way at Grottoferrata stakes the claim for southern Italy as ‘Grecia Minor’. The wine from Frascati has travelled round the world. The wine from Marino seldom travelled further than the refectory tables above the cantina. A village sporting the name of Squarciarelli has to be full of promise. The village of Marino can make no such claim and its history has a dark side to it. It was there that the Roman slaves from the empire were first settled. However, today it sports a fine brass band that belts out the theme tune for the Wine Festival in  October and troubled times are long forgotten.

Lake Albano and Lake Nemi are within easy reach as is Castel Gandolfo and the Papal Villa. Hannibal’s Camp has a magnetic attraction for classical enthusiasts even in the absence of his elephants. In an area which knew what it meant to be short of water, the Scots Villa boasted a swimming pool which doubled as an irrigation tank for the vineyards and olive groves.

The summer vacation ended with the week’s Retreat in October and the prospect of the start of a new academic year on October 15 and the Gregorian University’s inaugural Mass with the discourse from the rector who sported the pretentious title of Rector Magnificus. If we were delighted to make our way to the Villa in July we were equally happy to return to the city in October with a ‘mens sana in corpore sano’.

 ORDINANDS DURING 1948-1955

(For further details on each ordinand click on each name): 

During these seven years there was a reasonably settled time-table of ordinations to the priesthood. These fell regularly at Easter or on Ember Days during Advent. On occasion the senior student would be ordained early in July ahead of his peers. The Vicar of Rome at that time, Luigi Traglia, was the normal ordaining prelate and the Lateran Basilica and the Basilica of the 12 Apostles were the preferred locations designated by the Roman Vicariate.On occasion San Marcello al Corso and Sacro Cuore in the Piazza Navona featured.

We were happy to welcome a number of students of different nationalities. The archbishop of Edmonton, Ontario, Anthony Jordan, was himself a Scot, born in Bathgate, and entrusted some of his candidates to the college. The bishop of Pittsburgh, John J. Wright, likewise appears to have been attracted by the orthodoxy of the Scots which he evidently failed to find elsewhere. Leo Audiens was from the Netherlands and was destined for a South African Diocese. He was the embodiment of everything that was happening in the Dutch Church at that time. John Fennel, from Ireland, was ordained for Northampton Diocese. There was one survivor from a larger group of Maltese students who had been in the college before the war, Joseph Lupi, who left his mark on the academic life of Malta over a period of many years. A few Englishmen left their indelible mark on the community; Bob Spence still to the fore in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, Austin McIlhatten, Frank Glanfield immediately come to mind.

During his term of office between 1937 and 1960, Luigi Traglia ordained 4500 priests!  Of these, 36 were students from the Scots College. Most of us went together on Pilgrimage to Rome for the 1975 Holy Year. The oldest, Charlie Collins parish priest in Banff, ordained in 1937 led the way and we had the great pleasure of concelebrating our Patronal Feast in the College Chapel with the Cardinal who had ordained all of us, by then retired, acting as  principal celebrant. For details click The Scottish Legacy of Cardinal Traglia. As an exercise for the members of St Augustine’s Italian Club I attach the letter he sent accepting our invitation to celebrate St Andrew’s Day with us that year.

traglia.acceptance.real

An asterisk indicates those who have since died. May they rest in peace.

1948  

18 December 

Thomas J. Winning *

Motherwell

Lateran Basilica     

Luigi Traglia

1948  

18 December

Hugh G. McEwan *

Glasgow)

Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1949  

17 December

Roddie Macdonald *

Argyll

Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1950  

8 April

Nicholas Torsney *

St Andrew’s & Ed

Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1950

8 April

Charles McFadden

Glasgow

Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1950

2 July

Maurice Taylor

Motherwell

St Albert

E. van de Weigan

1951

15 July

John Kane *

(Galloway)

San Martino ai Monti

Luigi Traglia

1951

28 October

Dan Friel *

(Glasgow)

San Marcello

Francesco Beretti

1952

6 July

Stan Smith *

(St Andrew’s & Edinburgh)

The Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1952

6 July

William Boyle

(Motherwell)

Chapel of the Lateran College

Luigi Traglia

1953

4 April

John Symon *

(Aberdeen)

The Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1953

4 April

Felix Beattie *

(Glasgow)

The Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1953

4 April

Charles Renfrew *

(Glasgow)

The Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1953

4 April

John Breslin

(Motherwell)

The Lateran Basilica

Luigi Traglia

1953

5 July

Calum MacLellan *

(Argyll)

Basilica of the 12 Apostles

Luigi Traglia

1953

5 July

Norman Baird *

(Glasgow)

Basilica of the 12 Apostles

Luigi Traglia

1954

17 April

Ralph Mancini

(Galloway)

San Marcello

Ettore Cunial

1954

17 April

John Fennell

(Northampton)

San Marcello

Ettore Cunial

1954

11 July

Jock Dalrymple *

(St Andrew’s & Edinburgh)

Sacro Cuore

Luigi Traglia

1954

18 December

Francis Kelly *

(Motherwell

The Lateran Basilica

Cardinal Micara

1955

9 April

Daniel McEwan *

(Glasgow)

Basilica of the 12 Apostles

Luigi Traglia

1955

9 April

John Priestley

(Motherwell)

Basilica of the 12 Apostles

Luigi Traglia

1955

9 April

James Foley

(Motherwell)

Basilica of the 12 Apostles

Luigi Traglia

1955

10 July

Henry Docherty

(Motherwell)

Basilica of the 12 Apostles

Luigi Traglia

Below you will find two picture slideshows. The first relates to college life in Rome, the second to the summer vacation in the Villa.

More Canon Foley Articles

'They came as a boon and a blessing to men, the Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley pen'

    It is no secret that there has been a marked decline in handwriting since the Reformation. Think of those magnificent medieval manuscripts which are now the cherished possessions of museums; many of them with beautiful miniature illustrations married to the text,...

‘They came as a boon and a blessing to men, the Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley Pen’

By Canon Jim Foley  It is no secret that there has been a marked decline in handwriting since the Reformation. Think of those magnificent medieval manuscripts which are now the cherished possessions of museums; many of them with beautiful miniature illustrations...

‘The Crow and the Fox’ A salutary fable by La Fontaine (1621-1695)

By Canon Jim Foley There can’t be many of us left. If there are, I would be happy to hear from them before it’s too late. I am referring to those of us who had the good fortune to take our first steps in rudimentary French, under the guidance of Miss Kathleen McAnulty...

Bannen’s Land: An appreciation of Ian Bannen ‘Scotland’s Favourite Actor’ (1928-1999)

By Canon Jim Foley There is a parcel of land in the Monkland’s District of Lanarkshire, known as Bannen’s Land. The short explanation is that the Bannen family were the proprietors of the land. In time, however, the name would come to have a much wider constituency....

Peter F. Anson Artist and Scholar 1889-1975

An anecdote remembered by Canon Jim Foley  Although I did not have the good fortune to meet Peter Anson, I feel I know him quite well. I first heard of him as a character in an anecdote shared with me by William Clapperton, who was Rector of the Scots College in Rome...

Redmond Prendiville 1900-1969

Archbishop of Perth Australia 1933 - 1968 A Memory by Canon Jim Foley In an earlier blog, entitled ‘A Glimpse of Rome’, I made a passing reference to the Spartan life led by students for the priesthood in the Roman colleges in the wake of World War II, with an...

The Little Red Book

  A moment of grace on the way to Compostela By Canon Jim Foley Mao Tse-Tung, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, could not have known that his Little Red Book, evidently the most studied book in the world during the late sixties, had been anticipated in my...

‘Ah me! How calm and deep’ (O quanta, qualia)

A neglected masterpiece By Peter Abelard 1079-1142 Commented by Canon Jim Foley To view this essay in as a PDF document click here. I was introduced to this hymn in its English translation when I was a student in Rome and long before I discovered the beauty of the...

Sortes Virgilianae or The Short Straw

By Canon Jim Foley Some time ago I chanced upon a group of my parishioners outside the local Post Office. They seemed to be engaged in a very heated discussion. One of them detached herself from the others to ask me what was the number of ‘Sweet Heart of Jesus’ in the...

Need to get in touch?

Contact us by phone, email or via our social media channels.

Saint Augustine's Church, 12 Dundyvan Road, Langloan,
Coatbridge, ML5 1DQ

Email: office@saintaugustines.org.uk Tel: 01236 423044

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!