Father Anthony Ciampi, S.J. (1816-1893)

Several of the premier Jesuit college presidents in 19th century America were Italian. Father Joseph Cataldo founded Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Father John Grassi played a key role in the early history of Georgetown University, while Father Anthony Maraschi founded theUniversity of San Francisco. Born to a prominent Roman family, Anthony Ciampi was a nephew of Cardinal Giuseppe Sala (1762-1839), who held several key internal posts in Vatican government under Pope Gregory XVI. He studied at the Jesuits’ Roman College (better known as the Gregorian). In 1832 he joined the Society of Jesus. Most of his training was completed in Italy, until he answered a call for Jesuits in theUnited States. On July 23, 1848, he was ordained a priest at GeorgetownUniversity and soon went into college work. In 1851, at age 35, he was named President of the College of the Holy Cross, a school founded inWorcester,Massachusetts, in 1843. He served in that capacity until 1854. Later he would serve two more terms as president of the school, 1857-1861, and 1869-1873. During his first term, a fire almost destroyed the college, but he kept it going. One biographer writes: “That Holy Cross stands as the oldest Catholic college inNew England and one of the best undergraduate colleges in the nation testifies to his courage and the vision.” At one time, his name was under consideration for Bishop of Portland, Maine, but he was able to avoid the mitre after pleading with his superiors. During the 1860’s, Father Ciampi was President of Baltimore’s Loyola College, and headed the Jesuit House of Studies at Frederick,Maryland. In the 1870’s, he served at several Jesuit parishes in Washington,D.C., including Holy Trinity in Georgetown. He died at Georgetown University on November 24, 1893. Father Vincent Lapomarda, a Jesuit historian, describes Ciampi as a “cultured, holy, and kind priest” of tremendous administrative ability.

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