Vives, Juan Bautista

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Zealous promoter of missionary education; b. Valencia, Spain, May 3, 1545; d. Rome, Feb. 22, 1632. He was of the same family as the humanist philosopher and scholar Juan Luis Vives. Juan Bautista went to Rome in 1588 after obtaining his doctorate in both civil and Canon Law. He was ordained subdeacon in 1591 but deferred his ordination to the priesthood until 1609. Under Sixtus V, Clement VIII, Gregory XV, and Urban VIII, he held various offices in the Roman Curia. He also was Roman agent for the Spanish Inquisition, and served as ambassador for the Kingdom of Congo. In 1622 when Gregory XV formally established the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Vives was one of the prelates appointed to it.

Throughout his career Vives was active in promoting the education of ecclesiastics and especially those destined for missionary work. In 1591 he founded a school in the house in which he was then living in the Piazza del Populo; and later, with the cooperation of St. John leonardi, he changed this into a missionary college in the care of a missionary congregation of clerks regular that he and Leonardi established. However, neither of these enterprises prospered. He acquired the Palazzo Ferratini and about 1625 offered it, together with certain revenues for its maintenance, to the theatines for a college to train secular priests for the missionary apostolate. This plan failed also, and Vives then offered the palace, and with it sufficient income to support 12 students, to Urban VIII and his successors with the proviso that it was to be used as a college for secular priests and clerics from all nations preparing themselves for work on the missions in any part of the world. With the impetus given to the establishment of seminaries by the Council of Trent, various national colleges had been erected in Rome; but it seemed desirable that there should also be an international college for the training of prospective missionaries not only from countries that had no national college but from all nations. An international center devoted exclusively to the preparation of missionaries could give a specific direction to ecclesiastical studies that was much needed to fit the young men for their work. At the request of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Vives drew up a rule and statutes for the proposed institution. These proved satisfactory, and the Pope accepted the gift and its terms, and in his bull Immortalis Dei Filius of Aug. 1, 1627, established the Urban Pontifical College, sometimes known simply as the Urban College, or the College of the Propaganda. Since the motu proprio Fidei propagandae of John XXIII (Oct. 1, 1962), the official name of the institution has been the Pontificia Università Urbaniana.

[p. k. meagher]