The Irish Franciscan Continental Colleges and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception
Between 1578 and 1700, forty-five Irish colleges were established on the European mainland. Of the seven Franciscan foundations, three merit particular attention, Louvain, Rome, and Prague. From the last decades of the sixteenth century Irishmen wishing to become Franciscans opted to go to Spain for their training. Here they adopted the developing cult of the Immaculate Conception. Irish Franciscan enthusiasm was enhanced by their opinion that John Duns Scotus was Irish. The friars of both Leuven and Rome collaborated in publishing, interpreting, and propagating the works of Scotus. This essay will examine how and to what extent St. Isidore’s became a hub of a “cultural” and “theological” network which linked the Irish Franciscans in Rome with their confreres in continental Europe and in Ireland.