Call for Papers: North Atlantic Catholic Communities in Rome, 1622-1939

Author: Heather Gary

Rome, Italy | June 6-7, 2017

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 rivalries?
  • Who mediated between the metropole and periphery, using what tactics, and with what success?
  • 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 communities?
  • What sources exist to illuminate these questions, both in Rome and across its Catholic peripheries?
  • What traces have been left by those English- or French-speaking Catholics who corresponded with, visited, or settled in Rome?

Proposal Deadline and Details:
Please send proposals (150/200-word abstract and one-page c.v.) to by December 30, 2016.

Notifications will be sent by January 23, 2017. Papers should be pre-circulated to chairpersons and commentators by May 14, 2017.

Travel Funding:
In 2017, the Cushwa Center’s Peter R. D’Agostino Research Travel Grants will provide travel support (up to $1,500.00) for presenters at this conference. Presenters must submit a grant application to be considered for funding. Preference will be given to applicants who also plan to conduct research in Roman archives during their travel. Grant applications are due December 31, 2016. To apply, visit

Conference Languages:
English, Italian, and French

Presentation Length:
20 minutes

Sponsoring Institution:
Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, University of Notre Dame

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Director, Cushwa Center
Luca Codignola, Senior Fellow, Cushwa Center

Conference Coordinator:
Matteo Binasco, Postdoctoral Fellow, Cushwa Center

Travel & Lodging:
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, June 1, 2016; updated October, 11, 2016]