FAQ

Why Santa Croce?

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross realizes the dream of St. Josemaria Escriva to set up a center of University studies in Rome that would serve the whole Church through a broad and comprehensive work of research and formation in the ecclesiastical sciences (philosophy, theology, and canon law). St. Josemaria envisioned this university uniquely contributing to the Church's mission of evangelization in the whole world.

That dream coincided with John Paul II's conviction that a new pontifical university was needed to address the demands of the New Evangelization in the late 20th century and into the 21st. At the highest levels of academic formation in the universal Church, the Holy Father saw the need not only for a world-class academic institution dedicated to research and formation in the ecclesiastical sciences, but one that would imbue all of its formation with the universal call to holiness and the critical role of the laity in bringing the world to Christ.


What is the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross?

Also, known as Santa Croce, the University is the youngest of the principal Pontifical Universities in Rome. Its mission is to form the next generation of leaders for the universal Church.

The University is an internationally prestigious center of higher education in the ecclesiastical sciences. It is entrusted to the Prelature of Opus Dei by the Holy See. 

The University is open to priests, seminarians, religious and lay people, both men and women, from dioceses all over the world.


What is a pontifical university?

A pontifical university is a university established by the Pope or Holy See.

The University is directly under the authority of the Pope. It is also chartered by the Pope.

A pontifical university grants degrees on the European model (bachelor's, licentiate, doctorate) in theology, canon law, philosophy, and (in the case of Santa Croce) Church communications.

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross was chartered by John Paul II in 1984 as a pontifical athenaeum. It was elevated to a pontifical university by a grant from Pope John Paul II in 1998.


How many pontifical universities are there in Rome?

There are seven principal pontifical universities in Rome. Each of the pontifical universities is established by and directly under the authority of the Holy See. Each is governed by the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The seven principal pontifical universities in Rome are:

  • The Pontifical Gregorian University (est. 1551; in the care of the Jesuits)
  • The Pontifical University of St. Thomas – The Angelicum (est. 1577, in the care of the Dominicans)
  • The Pontifical Urbanian University (est. 1627; directly under oversight of The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, focuses on forming missionaries)
  • The Pontifical Lateran University (est. 1773; the Diocese of Rome, primarily for local seminarians and priests)
  • The Pontifical University of St. Anthony (est. 1938; in the care of the Franciscans)
  • The Pontifical Salesian University (est. 1940; in the care of the Salesians)
  • The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross ("Santa Croce”, est. 1984; in the care of Opus Dei)

How many schools are at the University?

Santa Croce is a university with four schools: Theology, Philosophy, Canon Law, and Church Communications.


What degrees are awarded?

  • Bachelor of Philosophy
  • Bachelor of Theology
  • Master of Church History
  • Licentiate in Philosophy
  • Licentiate in Theology
  • Licentiate in Canon Law
  • Licentiate in Church Communication
  • Doctorate in Philosophy
  • Doctorate in Theology
  • Doctorate in Canon Law
  • Doctorate in Church Communication

Are there any specializations for licentiates and doctorates?

Specializations in Philosophy

Ethics and Sciences
Metaphysics and Epistemology

Specializations in Theology

Dogmatic Theology
Moral Theology
Spiritual Theology
Church History (including Patrology and Christian Archaeology)
Liturgical Theology
Sacred Scripture


Who runs Santa Croce?

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross is an institution of the Holy See governed by the Congregation for Catholic Education. It has been placed in the care of the Prelature of Opus Dei, and the Chancellor of the University is the Prelate of Opus Dei, the Most Reverend Javier Echevarría.

The academic institution itself is run by the rector (Msgr. Luis Romera) and the rector's council.

See more information on the Leadership page.


Are all the students priests or seminarians?

No. Priests and seminarians are in the majority (about 75%), but there are many lay students as well . You can see a more detailed breakdown of the student body at Santa Croce 101.


How does Santa Croce education relate to the real world?

Santa Croce offers students constant opportunities to deepen their knowledge, broaden their culture, and improve their formation, especially in matters of current public interest.

Students are encouraged to ask not only what, but why, to exercise their reason guided by their well-formed faith: faith seeking understanding.

Underlying the thrust of the University’s academic work is a great love for the Church and passion for finding answers to the challenging problems of our times.


Why is there a Foundation?

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross Foundation, Inc. is organized and operated primarily to receive contributions for, and make grants to, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Italy. Contributions are received primarily from donors in the United States.


Why doesn't Santa Croce just raise the money itself?

There are many people all over the world who have a strong interest in supporting the kind of education Santa Croce gives to future leaders of the Church. It makes a much more efficient use of money and time if people who are familiar with North America can handle the business of gathering donations in North America. The University gets more money for its vital mission—and spends less money on getting it.


How can I help?

Look at the Ways to Give section on this site. You're in control here. You have a broad array of choices, so that you can decide which one fits your own situation.


Where can I find more information about studying at Santa Croce?

In the United States, you can contact us at:

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross Foundation 

420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 300
New York, NY 10170
Or call 646-558-6490

Email: info@universityholycross.org

Worldwide, you can contact the University at

Pontificia Università della Santa Croce
Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, 49
00186 Roma (Italia)
Phone +39 06 681641



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  • published this page in About 2016-06-02 12:16:51 -0400