Established in 1963, the Convitto San Tommaso is a place of residence in Rome for young priests who come to the Eternal City in order to pursue higher studies at one or other of the Roman Universities. The student priests, numbering approximately 55, come from all five continents of the world. Although most of those who come tend to be Diocesan priests, the house itself is under the care of the Dominican Order. Three Dominicans live in the house to serve the practical and spiritual needs of the student priests: the Rector, the Spiritual Director, and the Bursar.
The Convitto building stands directly behind the University of St Thomas (the “Angelicum”). A door, in fact, leads from one building to the other. But the actual front door of the Convitto opens out unto a small, quiet cul-de-sac called the Via degli Ibernesi (literally, the Street of the Irish). The street was named in this way because the building that is now the Convitto was originally constructed in the 17th century as a Seminary for Irish students living abroad.
The Convitto is a place of residence but is much more than a mere boarding house. The life of the house is concentrated, first and last, on the daily celebration of the Eucharist, and the priests in the house are encouraged also to join in the prayerful celebration of Lauds and Vespers. Fundamental to the house is an atmosphere of quiet so that the students can concentrate on their studies. But no less important, given the opportunity of meeting fellow students and priests from all over the world, is the new breadth of knowledge gained concerning the universal Church, and the shared joy also of living together at the very centre of the city of Rome.