On 1 December the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, representing the British royal family, attended a commemoration ceremony at Rome’s Venerable English College, marking the 650th anniversary of the building’s original foundation in 1362 as an English and Welsh pilgrims’ hospice. Located on Via di Monserrato near Piazza Farnese, the college is the oldest English institution outside England, and still functions as a seminary for men training for the priesthood.
Accompanied by Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker, Their Royal Highnesses were met by the college’s rector Monsignor Nicholas Hudson, H.E. Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, and the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.
Following the celebration of Mass commemorating the Feast of the English Catholic Martyrs, Prince Richard the Duke of Gloucester read a message from HM Queen Elizabeth II, in which she highlighted the strong relationship between Britain and the Holy See. The Queen said the college has “always served as a generous and hospitable home away from home for generations of visitors to Rome, even in the most difficult times."
The day before, on 30 November, the Duke and Duchess attended the Pontifical Scots College on Via Cassia on the occasion of St Andrew’s Day, Scotland's national feast day and the patronal feast day of the college.
Describing the visit as a “privilege” the college’s rector Fr John Hughes told Wanted in Rome that the royal couple “joined in our celebrations at a reception in the afternoon, which had as its focus the re-dedication of our theatre and Lecture Room, with the unveiling of the coat of arms of Henry Benedict, Cardinal Duke of York, who was a great friend and benefactor of the college in life and not least, at his death.”
The Duke of Gloucester, who is a first cousin of the Queen, is 21st in the line of succession to the British throne.