University of Louvain

[American Seminary, Louvain] Founded as a studium generale by a Bull of Pope Martin V, 1425, at the request of John IV, Duke of Brabant; the faculty of theology was created by Pope Eugene IV, 1431. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was one of the strong intellectual centers of the West, and numerous institutions and colleges grew up around it. Among its famous professors were the philologist Justus Lipsius, the Arabist Clenard, and the scientist and inventor Minckelers. The faculty of theology strongly resisted the invasion of Protestantism, although the teachings of its professors Baïus and Jansenius caused serious anxiety during the 17th century, and in the 18th the influence of Febronianism and Josephinism was strongly felt. The theological teaching from the end of the 17th century was based upon that of the Scholastics, and special Scholastic chairs were added through the initiative of the princes. Among its illustrious teachers was Adrian Floris, later (1522) Pope Adrian VI, to whom is due the foundation of the university college which still bears his name. In the 18th century there was conflict between the university and the government which sought to impregnate it with centralizing and royalist ideas. The crisis arrived under Emperor Joseph II when, in disregard of the rights of the Church, he attempted to impose a general seminary upon the university, which resulted in the suspension and exile of many of the professors. The national conservative government reopened the university in 1790, but it was again suppressed in 1797 by the French who had annexed the Netherlands. After an interval marked by the establishment of a state university under the Dutch government, 1815, the episcopate of Belgium decided to create a free Catholic institution for higher education. This was sanctioned by Gregory XVI and first opened at Mechlin, 1834, but soon removed to the old buildings at Louvain. Its administration, teaching, and budget are independent of the state, and the episcopate controls the institution and appoints its head, the rector magnificus, who governs with the assistance of a rectorate council composed of the deans of the five faculties, theology, law, medicine, philosophy, and letters. The professors are appointed by the bishop on the presentation of the rector. It has a large number of affiliated institutions, among them the higher philosophic institute established by Pope Leo XIII and organized by Cardinal Mercier. Since Belgium gained its independence, Louvain has always been represented in the Parliament and often in the cabinet councils. Among the illustrious professors since the restoration have been the theologians, Beelen, Jungmann, Bishop Jules Malou of Bruges, Lamy, and Reussens; in law, De Coux, Perin, Thonissen, and Nyssens; in philosophy and letters, Arendt, David, Moeller, Poullet, Neve, De Harlez, and Willems; in philosophic science and mathematics, Gilbert, De la Vallee, Poussin, Van Beneden, and Carnoy; and in medicine, Schwann, Craninex, Michaux, Van Kempen, Hubert and Lefebvre.

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