The most important Catholic University in Europe
We are the most important Catholic University in Europe and the only Italian University to boast an impressive national network with our five Campuses in Milan, Piacenza, Cremona, Brescia and Rome, where the Policlinico Universitario “A. Gemelli”.
We are esteemed for our academic excellence, integrated in the European tradition as a place of cultural formation, able to contemplate and interpret the complexity of the society in which we live: a mission that translates into an educational syllabus focused on the formation of the person as a whole.
In the last 100 years we have shaped a significant quota of our country's establishment: eminent representatives of institutions, politics and law, academics and intellectuals, entrepreneurs and managers, teachers and professionals, bishops, journalists, publishers and writers. Plus, many others, known and less known, who have helped to promote the prestigious reputation of Università Cattolica in Europe and around the world.
Our story began in 1921, when Università Cattolica was founded by Father Agostino Gemelli together with a group of Catholic intellectuals: Ludovico Necchi, Francesco Olgiati, Armida Barelli and Ernesto Lombardo.
The previous year the Giuseppe Toniolo Institute of Higher Education had been created, named after the founder and promoter of Università Cattolica. On 7 December 1921 Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore was officially inaugurated in Milan (in via Sant'Agnese), in the presence of the archbishop of the city, Cardinal Achille Ratti, future Pope Pius XI. In 1924, state recognition was awarded as a free university.
In 1927 the University acquired the ancient monastery of Sant'Ambrogio designed by Bramante and, on 30 October 1932, the edifice became the University main Campus. The redevelopment, restoration and expansion of the structure with new buildings was entrusted to the architect Giovanni Muzio.
In the post-war period the Piacenza campus was built and the first cohort of students enrolled for the 1952-53 academic year. In 1961 the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery was established in Rome. In 1964 the "Agostino Gemelli" University Hospital was inaugurated which, in 2015, was granted the title of Fondazione Policlinico Universitario “Agostino Gemelli” IRCCS. In 1965 the Brescia headquarters opened its doors and, in 1984, the first lectures began on the Cremona campus.
It was in 1919 that Father Agostino Gemelli, together with Ludovico Necchi, Francesco Olgiati, Armida Barelli and Ernesto Lombardo - all passionate and committed cultural and ecclesiastical patrons - consolidated the idea of rapidly establishing a Catholic university that would have an esteemed and influential role in Italian culture. Despite some initial difficulties, in February 1920, the Giuseppe Toniolo di Studi Superiori (Institute of Higher Studies) was established, named after the founder and guarantor of the Università Cattolica. On June 24th of the same year the Institute attained the approval decree signed by Benedetto Croce, the Minister of Education at the time. Furthermore Pope Benedict XV supported the University from an ecclesiastical viewpoint, thus, marking a ‘victorious point of arrival for the Catholic movement, indeed, for the entire Italian ecclesial community’.