A fire broke last night (30 May) out at Rome’s Venerable English College causing smoke damage to the building but, due to swift action to extinguish the flames, no one was injured.
Observers reported dramatic scenes near the "Venerabile" last night with smoke from the fire billowing over into the Campo de' Fiori, the square near the college, while all those inside the building were swiftly evacuated. Fire fighters were then called to the scene.
In a statement the seminary authorities said that there was “a small fire in a stairwell next to the college courtyard” yesterday evening but that it was “put out in good time.”
It continued: “There was no substantial damage to the property but there was some smoke damage.”
There are currently around fifty people who live and work at the college including seminarians, the formation staff and priests doing further studies in Rome.
The seminary was founded in 1579, but there has been an English presence on its site in central Rome since 1362, making it the oldest English institution in Europe outside of the UK.
It’s first incarnation was as a hospice for pilgrims travelling to Rome, particularly those who were "poor, infirm, needy and wretched” and remains an important base for those from England visiting or living in the Eternal City.
It has trained generations of English priests and bishops, and is used as a base by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster whenever he travels to Rome.
Last month, on 4 April, the Prince of Wales paid his first visit to the College where met with staff and students along with a delegation of Muslim leaders, who were Rome with Cardinal Nichols to meet Pope Francis.
PICTURE: Monsignor Philip Whitmore, Rector (left) and Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols show the Prince of Wales the restored chapel at the Venerable English College in Rome, Italy, during the Prince of Wales's European tour