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8 Financial Mismanagement at the Irish College, 1772–98

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Chapter Summary

Money was a constant concern for cash-strapped Catholic collegial networks in the early-modern period. Financial difficulties were often exacerbated by changes in college government. The suppression of the Society of Jesus in July 1773 constituted a major challenge for former Jesuit institutions like the Irish college in Rome. This essay looks at the hitherto unexamined consequences for the Irish college in this period running up to its suppression by the French in 1798. By focusing on the financial administration of the Irish college in Rome, one forms a clearer picture of the motives of the anti-Jesuit personalities involved, such as Cardinal Mario Marefoschi, the college’s protector. In the process, the financial history of the college reveals questionable hiring practices, inflated administrative costs, and personal agendas involving college resources. Thus, despite Marefoschi’s charge of financial mismanagement by the Jesuits in his report of 1772, the college failed to improve its financial position between 1772 and 1798. In fact, its condition deteriorated and this was reflected in the paucity of ordained priests who returned to Ireland to contribute to the mission there. Ironically, it would take a total suppression by the French in 1798 to begin the reversal of this trend and to allow for a fresh start, which finally occurred in 1826 with the reopening of the college.



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