By Elena Dini
ROME — Christopher Archibald is in Rome for a three-month internship at the archives of the Venerable English College, which opened its doors in 1579, as a seminary to form men who would eventually serve the Catholic Church in England.
Archibald recently completed his master’s degree in English literature at Oxford University; his research focusing on Reformation and post-Reformation literature, from 1550 to 1700. He is planning to start his PhD at Oxford in English Catholic literature next fall.
“The period I am interested in is fascinating and poses important questions about tolerance, individual liberty, the emergency of liberalism and the dangers of religious fundamentalism, and it is crazy to see that these are still problems in our world,” he said.
During his internship, funded by the British Province of Jesuits, Archibald is helping to develop the catalogue at the Venerable English College.
“The archives are at quite an exciting stage of that development and it will be an amazing place for scholars to come and study,” he said, noting the recent opening of the Schwarzenbach Reading Room at the college, which includes a reference collection on the English and Welsh Catholic communities.
“I have an academic interest in the representation of belief and the political significance of literature,” he added. “Now more than ever, it is really important to be thinking about the longstanding connection between England and the continent and to celebrate that with the development of the Venerable English College, making sure that more people know about this heritage.”
Archibald joined The Lay Centre community during the second semester, upon the recommendation of the Venerable English College.
“It is a great place with many engaged people, and I like the diversity of fields people are interested in: from psychology to the Syriac language. You can have a feeling of community here,” he said. “Easter Sunday was a nice chance to get to know people better over a longer lunch and that was great.”