College in Paris, founded as part of the University of Paris, by Robert de Sorbon, professor and preacher, in order that the university might rival the Dominicans and Franciscans in offering gratuitous instruction in theology. The professors, called socii, followed the rules of the cenobitic life, excepting in regard to vows, and were controlled by an administrator (provisor) and the prior (primus inter pares), who presided over the internal affairs. There were two kinds of associates, the bursaires, who were provided for by the house and the pensionnaires, who paid forty pounds a year. Besides their classroom work, the associates had the duty of preaching and laboring in the parishes. The essential characteristics of the society were the equality in poverty of the masters and pupils. In 1271 Sorbon added a literary college to the theological one, called the College de Calvi or “little Sorbonne.” The institute, which maintained a high standard of scholarship, was favored by the Holy See, and in 1410 introduced the art of printing into France. One of its principal patrons was Cardinal Richelieu, for a time provisor, who is buried in the church of the Sorbonne. It was a loyal defender of the Catholic faith against Protestantism, but gave its support to Gallicanism and obliged its members to subscribe to “the four articles.” This weakened its prestige as a theological school and obliged the ecclesiastical students to seek instruction in the seminaries. It was suppressed in 1792, but restored by Napoleon in 1808 as the theological faculty of the newly-organized University of Paris. It was suppressed again in 1882, but in 1889 was reopened and is now occupied by the departments of letters and science of the University of Paris, forming the Ecole des Hautes Etudes.

MLA Citation

  • “Sorbonne”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 December 2019. Web. 5 March 2021. <>