North Atlantic Catholic Communities in Rome, 1622-1939
Rome, Italy | 6-7 June 2017
Sponsoring Institution: Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism
University of Notre Dame
Convenors: Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Director, Cushwa Center
Luca Codignola, Senior Fellow, Cushwa Center
Conference Coordinator: Matteo Binasco, Postdoctoral Fellow, Cushwa Center
The Cushwa Center invites interested scholars to submit proposals for papers dealing with any
aspect of the presence in the Eternal City of individuals as well as communities originating from
present-day England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, English- and French-speaking Canada, and the
United States.
As is well known, Rome and its ecclesiastical institutions stood at the center of what amounted to a
global Catholic empire, with the pope reigning as emperor, the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda
Fide operating as a kind of colonial office, and the various national colleges of Ireland, England,
Scotland and (from 1859) ‘North America’, serving a function analogous to that of modern embassies.
Although this Catholic empire had interests all over the world, one of its most important theatres was
the North Atlantic world. The Catholics of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales interacted with one
another at home, settled British North America and the United States, encountered the French-speaking
Catholics of Québec, and struggled with Protestants and with one another.
This international conference will help identify the transnational network comprised of so many
individuals who, despite the fact that they came from different countries in the North Atlantic region,
had their destination, or their intellectual point of reference, in the Eternal City and looked to Rome as
their spiritual metropole. International perspectives will highlight the global dimension of Rome as a
unique cultural and religious crossroad.
The conference will focus on the following themes:
• Did a shared language (English) foster the creation of an overall North Atlantic
community, or should we rather speak of several “national” communities whose
interests were often at odds with each other? How did the French-speakers from Québec
fit in?
• What exactly do we mean by “community” and “North Atlantic”? Can such concepts be
applied to the experience of the Eternal City as an urban center, of the Holy See as a
power and bureaucratic entity, or to Rome as the center of a global empire?
• How did the various national communities seek to influence Roman behaviour to gain
an advantage, secure a benefit, or thwart a rival?
• How in turn did the Holy See seek to exert its influence, choose favourites, or reconcile
• Who mediated between the metropole and periphery, using what tactics, and with what
• To what extent were the devotions, practices, and preoccupations of the center
transmitted to the periphery (or from the periphery to the center), and with what
modifications and consequences?
• To what extent did members of these communities become “Romanized” and act as
vehicles of “Romanization” for their native dioceses?
• What were the effects of constant linguistic and cultural translation between Latin as the
official language of the Holy See, Italian as their everyday working language, and
English and French as the language used within the national community?
• Were there key individuals—high-ranking decision-makers as well as rank-and-file
bureaucrats—who proved to be of special significance with regard to these
• What sources exist to illuminate these questions, both in Rome and across its Catholic
• What traces have been left by those English- or French-speaking Catholics who
corresponded with, visited, or settled in Rome?
• Please send proposals (150/200-word abstract and one-page c.v.) to by
30 December 2016.
• Notifications will be sent by 23 January 2017. Papers should be pre-circulated to
chairpersons and commentators by 14 May 2017.
• Conference languages are English, Italian, and French.
• Length of regular presentations: 20 minutes.
• Participants will make their own travel and lodging arrangements, but conference
organizers will provide a list of housing options close to the conference venue
(University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway, via Ostilia 15, 00184 Rome, Italy).
[Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Luca Codignola, 1 June 2016]