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The Pontifical Oriental Institute or “Orientale” is the premier center for the study of Eastern Christianity in Rome, Italy. The pontifical institute was established in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV. Pope Pius XI entrusted the Institute to the Society of Jesus in 1922, and with the 1928 encyclical “Rerum Orientalium” encouraged bishops to send students to the Institute to be formed as future professors in eastern church studies. In that same year, Pius XI associated the Institute with the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute, thus forming the Gregorian Consortium.


In 1971, the Faculty of Eastern Canon Law was erected alongside the already existing Faculty of Eastern Ecclesiastical Studies. The Faculty of Eastern Canon Law had a crucial role in the production of the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches. The Institute has been located across from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore since 1926. It is separated from the Collegium Russicum by the Church of Saint Antony. According to article 16 of the Lateran Treaty, signed in 1929 between Italy and the Holy See, the property of the Oriental Institute enjoys a certain level of extraterritoriality, with the Holy See having all rights over the infrastructure without interference from the Italian State, and free from all Italian taxation.


Since 1993, the Grand Chancellor of the Oriental Institute has been the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and in 2016 was Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, while the Rector was Fr. David Nazar, S.J.

The first president of the Institute was Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, Abbot of St. Paul and the Archbishop of Milan. Benedict XV first gave the Institute the authority to grant academic degrees in Theology. With “the grand design to build a bridge between the East and the West “, Schuster expressed that, “the Pontifical Oriental Institute had to be an academy dedicated exclusively to the study of various theological subjects cultivated in the East” (Benedict XV on The Union of Churches Conference held at the Catholic University in 1940).

  • The Pontifical Oriental Institute offers Licentiate and Doctoral degrees in Eastern Canon Law, Eastern Ecclesiastical Studies and a Propaedeutic year of formation for Seminarians.
  • It is awarded the title of “Pontifical” since it is under the supervision and care of the Supreme Pontiff, and in order for Rome to have an Institute for the promotion of Eastern Studies.
  • The Institute will be directly aligned to the Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Church.
  • The Institute will have its own distinct office in the Vatican.
  • The Institute will teach the following subjects: a) Orthodox Theology encompassing various Christian Doctrine, with Eastern Patrology courses, and Historical Theology; b) Canon law of all Christian peoples of the East; c) Eastern Liturgy d) History, both sacred and civil, of Byzantium and the rest of the East; will conjoin Geography courses, Sacred Archaeology, and Civil Constitutions e) Literature and Oriental languages.

Public Relations

Nicoletta Borgia

Public Relations & Press Office  |   Pontifical Oriental Institute

Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore 7-00185

Rome Tel .: +39

Fax: +39

Notable Alumni

  • His All Holiness Bartholomew I

    From 1963 to 1968, Patriarch Bartholomew pursued his postgraduate studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He is the 270th and current Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, since 2 November 1991.

  • His Grace Andrew Pataki

    Andrew Pataki was an Eastern Catholic hierarch, the second bishop of Parma for the Byzantines, and the third bishop of Passaic for the Byzantines.

  • Blessed Eugene Bossilkov

    He was a member of the Passionist Congregation, Roman Catholic bishop of Nicopolis and martyr in the Communist campaign in Bulgaria against religion.

  • His Eminence Gregorio Pietro XV Agagianian

    He was the head of the Armenian Catholic Church from 1937 to 1962. Agagianian was elevated to the cardinalate in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.

  • His Beatitude Ignace Antoine II Hayyek

    Ignatius Antony II Hayyek was the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East of the Syrians of the Syriac Catholic Church from 1968 to 1998.

  • His Holiness Raphael I Bidawid

    Patriarch Bidawid was known as a champion of the unification of the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

  • His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako

    Louis Raphaël I Sako is the current Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church since his election on 1 February 2013.

  • His Beatitude Gregory III Laham

    Gregory III Laham is Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem, and is the spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, elected on November 29, 2000, succeeding Patriarch Maximos V Hakim.

  • His Beatitude Paul Meouchi

    Moran Mor Paul II Peter Meouchi was the 74th Maronite Patriarch of Antioch from 1955 until his death in 1975.

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