The 20th Century
The inter-war period saw the rectorships of Arthur Hinsley (1917-29) and William Godfrey (1929-39), who both later became Cardinal Archbishops of Westminster. They encouraged a highly Anglicised type of Romanitas in which a feeling of imperial superiority was tempered by a deep affection for Italy and all things Italian. Students put on concerts, plays and Gilbert and Sullivan operas, organised debates and societies, and ran a successful in-house journal, The Venerabile. The products of this regime, including Cardinals Griffin and Heenan, were to lead English Catholics into the 1970s.
Hinsley did a great deal of restructuring work, including the buying of a new villa at Palazzola. This former Franciscan friary replaced the cramped summer house at Monte Porzio which students had used since the seventeenth century. In 1926, with the help of the English press, Hinsley saved the College from a scheme of the Roman city planners to destroy some of the buildings to make room for a covered market.
The Second World War resulted in a second period of exile for the College. Dressed in civilian clothes, courtesy of the stage man, the house left Rome on 16 May 1940 and narrowly secured places on the last boat for England from Le Havre, which was about to fall. The College buildings were used as a hospital organised by the Knights of Malta from 1941 to 1944. Students continued classes and seminary life first at Ambleside in the Lake District and then at the Jesuit school of Stonyhurst. Students returned to Rome in the autumn of 1946.
The English and Welsh bishops stayed at the College during the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), as they had done during the First Vatican Council (1869-70). In 1979, on the occasion of its Fourth Centenary, the College was honoured by a visit from John Paul II who celebrated Mass in the church and joined the students for a festive banquet in the refectory.