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Aula Magna


Historical Background


Abbazia di San Girolamo The Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music was founded by St. Pius X in 1910 under the name "School of Sacred Music." The school was opened on January 3rd, 1911 and received approval with the issue of the papal bull Expleverunt on November 4th of that same year. On July 10th, 1914, with a document from the Secretariat of State, the school was declared a Pontifical Institution and was granted the power to confer academic degrees. Benedict XV assigned the building Palazzo di Sant'Apollinare as the residence of the school, relocating it from via del Mascherone (October 16th,1914). Pius XI, with the motu proprio Ad musicae sacrae restitutionem (November 22nd,1922) gave it the statutes, confirming its direct dependence on the Holy See.

With the Apostolic Constitution Deus scientiarum Dominus (May 24th, 1931), the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music was numbered among the pontifical universities and faculties. Pius XII, in a letter of the Secretary of State to the episcopate throughout the world (November 22nd, 1953) and in the encyclical Musicæ sacrae disciplina (December 25th, 1955), strongly recommended the Institute’s courses. In the Instruction on Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy (October 3rd, 1958) the Sacred Congregation of Rites emphasized the priority that should be given to the Roman Institution over similar institutions. John XXIII, in the apostolic letter Iucunde laudatio for the 50th anniversary of its foundation, praised the activity of the Institute and founded a music programme for the missions (December 8th, 1961). Paul VI, with the chirograph Nobile subsidium liturgiæ (November 22nd, 1963), established the Consociatio Internationalis Musicæ Sacrae, whose secretariat is housed at the Institute, and on May 10th, 1975 founded the School of Gregorian semiology.

In 1983 John Paul II assigned to the Institute the entire property of the abbey of San Girolamo in Urbe, where, since the academic year 1984-1985, teaching activity and daily liturgy are carried out.

On January 19th, 2001, the Professors, students and staff of the Institute were received in private audience by His Holiness John Paul II in honour of the 90th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and in commemoration of Bishop Higini Anglès, president of the Institute from 1947 to 1969.

In his speech the Holy Father marked out authoritatively the “magisterial way” of sacred music, witnessing his esteem and appreciation of the activity of the Institute, in the teaching, artistic and liturgical spheres.

Chiostro dell'Abbazia di San Girolamo

The Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, as an academic and scientific institution erected by the Apostolic See, is a legal entity founded on the rules of canon law with its own proper statutes approved by the Holy See and norms approved by the Institute’s Academic Council. By the faculty granted to it by the Apostolic See, the Institute confers the degrees of Baccalaureate, Licentiate, Masters and PhD.

The Chirograph on Sacred Music issued by Pope John Paul II on November 22nd, 2003, commemorating the centenary of the Motu proprio Inter Sollicitudines of St. Pius X, is a further sign of the special care he showed towards the Institute. Recalling the merits of '”this almost century-old academic institution, which has rendered a distinguished service to the Church”- he referred to it as a body which acts in collaboration with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the “task of regulating and promoting the Sacred Liturgy”, precisely in “the field of sacred music.”

During his visit to the Institute on October 13th, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, in keeping with his profound magisterium, underlined the program entrusted to us: to join the study of the liturgical music of the Catholic tradition with the demands of an active participation of the faithful to chant, whilst emphasizing the values of beauty and promoting the formation of clergy and laity in the correct practice of liturgical music in the universal Church.

Chiostro dell'Abbazia di San Girolamo The Institute has the following aims: to teach the disciplines of liturgical music in terms of practical, theoretical and historical knowledge and to promote the dissemination of the traditional sacred music and encourage artistic expressions appropriate to today's culture; to render, on behalf of the mother Church of Rome, a service to the local Churches throughout the world, as regards the training of church musicians and teachers of sacred music of tomorrow.

The Institute fulfills its mandate through the teaching of curricular studies, research and historical-aesthetic analysis, the publication of musical and scientific works, the performance of music in concerts and during the liturgy, with the intention of spreading the repertoire both of the past and of the present.


The Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music also promotes the development of study centers of sacred music, both on the academic (universities, high schools) and the pastoral (Diocesan Schools) level and the organization of conferences and study courses and specialization courses (Master).