Love, Form, Serve


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  /    /  History

Forming Our Future Priests

Who we are

The Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, founded in 1991, is a priestly formation center that was born in Rome as a response to the directives given by Pope John Paul II to collaborate with bishops in the preparation of future priests. It is open to diocesan seminarians who, in the opinion of their Ordinaries, may dedicate themselves in the future to the task of forming ministers of the Church of Christ.

The Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae is only 20 minutes from Vatican City and 10 minutes from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.

Espíritu eclesial

The educational pedagogy of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae is inspired by a spirit of profound ecclesial communion. After the first years of formation in his own diocese, the seminarian in Rome opens himself to the horizon of the universal Church. In fact, Rome offers the future formator of priests a privileged opportunity to consolidate his love for the Church and for the Vicar of Christ.

Therefore, one of the essential characteristics of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae is to foster in candidates for the priesthood filial love for the person and the magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and adherence to the Apostolic See.

Given the internationality of the College, the years spent in it constitute a rich experience of the catholicity of the Church and the exchange of faith traditions.

The Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae was born out of the common interest of Pope John Paul II and the founder of the Legionaries of Christ for the formation of priests.

During the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Center for Higher Studies of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome, the Holy Father expressed to the Legion of Christ the desire that its formative charism be available for other realities of the Church. Thus the idea that the Legionaries had of erecting a center for the formation of future formators of seminaries matured, thus offering a response to the Pope’s request.


The project was launched on July 15, 1991, with the arrival in Rome of the first 16 young people from four Latin American countries. Since its foundation, which took place in the present General House of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Juan Manuel Dueñas, L.C. was in charge of Maria Mater Ecclesiae as rector.

He, along with the team of formators, oversaw the formation of the seminarians and the consolidation of the College.


In August 1992, the International College had its first headquarters in Castel di Guido. This first house witnessed the first steps of ecclesial work aimed at welcoming and training young seminarians from various dioceses on five continents.

A year later, the first priest was ordained in the chapel of the College of Castel di Guido. It is the beginning of a growing chain of young people trained in this College which today, after 15 years of foundation, has more than 450 ordained priests.


The year 1999, on the threshold of the Great Jubilee, was a year of particular graces for the College.

In May, the month dedicated especially to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father John Paul II, through the then prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, His Em. Rvma. Cardinal Pio Laghi gave Maria Mater Ecclesiae the title “Pontifical.


The headquarters of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae change. The new site is near of the Via Aurelia.

With large green areas and sports facilities, was designed to offer each seminarian the best conditions for an integral education, in an environment that favors serenity and a sense of personal responsibility.


With God’s help, the family Maria Mater Ecclesiae has also multiplied institutionally with the birth of another center of priestly formation: the priestly residence Maria Mater Ecclesiae, inaugurated in Rome, in October 2005, with the objective of receiving diocesan priests who came to study in the city of Rome.


On February 5, 2019, the Congregation for the Clergy approved for a period of 3 years the new Statutes of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, which were updated by Fr Eduardo Robles Gil, superior general of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

According to the new statutes, the Mater Ecclesiae College can also welcome priests sent to Rome by their bishops to live a particular moment of their ongoing formation while carrying out doctoral or license studies.