The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas has its historical roots in the medieval House of Studies of the Dominican Order in Rome. Mons. Juan Solano, then bishop of Cuzco in Peru († 1/14/1580), founded the new Italo-Spanish College of St. Thomas at the Roman convent of the Minerva. The rectors of the new College had to belong either to the Dominican Province of Rome or of Spain. The College of St. Thomas was also open to students who were not Dominicans.
On May 26, 1727, Benedict XIII gave to the Order’s major Houses of Study, and therefore also to the College of St. Thomas, the right of conferring academic degrees in theology to students outside the Order.
Thanks to the generosity of Girolamo Cardinal Casanate († 3/2/1700), the College of St. Thomas was enriched by the foundation of the Casanatense Library, a famous centre of philosophical-theological studies in Rome.
In 1873, the College of St. Thomas had to leave its residence at the Minerva and began a period of migration, during which it had to take refuge in various Roman sites. Nevertheless, in 1882 the Faculty of Philosophy was founded and in 1896 the Faculty of Canon Law.
It was thanks to the efforts of Blessed Giacinto M. Cormier, Master General of the Order, that, on May 2, 1906, the College of St. Thomas received the title Pontificium (Pontifical), from Pope St. Pius X. This made the degrees conferred by the College equal to those of the world’s other Catholic Universities. By the Apostolic Letter of November 8, 1908, signed by the Supreme Pontiff on November 17, the new Pontifical College Angelicum was erected on the site of the College of St. Thomas, with headquarters in Via San Vitale. These were transferred in 1932 to the appropriately expanded buildings of the ancient Dominican monastery of SS. Domenico and Sisto.