Session 7: Ystafell 7
Newly discovered poems in Welsh and Irish on the life of Odoardo Farnese (1573–1626), cardinal protector of the Venerable English College, Rome, 1626

Chair: Helen Fulton

Contributors: Maurice Whitehead; Geraint Evans; Mícheál MacCraith

The recent discovery of a previously unnoticed manuscript book in the archive of the Venerable English College in Rome promises to throw significant new light on the use of emblems in early seventeenth century manuscript production and on the Welsh and Irish contribution to the life of the Venerable English College in Rome.

Founded in 1579 as a seminary for the formation of secular Catholic clergy for the English and Welsh mission, the Venerable English College was under Jesuit administration from its inception down to 1773 and Cardinal Odoardo Farnese (1573–1626), a major patron of the Society of Jesus, was cardinal protector of the College from 1599 to 1626.

The recently discovered Farnese manuscript details the elaborate arrangements for the obsequies of the cardinal, organized in the Venerable English College Church of St Thomas of Canterbury in Rome in 1626. Extensively illustrated throughout, the manuscript contains poems or poetic sequences composed in the eight languages then in use in the college. Recorded on separate leaves, in a variety of hands, these include a sonnet in English and sequences of poems in Welsh and Irish.

The three papers in this session will seek to address some of the many questions which are raised by the discovery of this manuscript. The first paper will describe the manuscript, the archive in which it is preserved, and the context of the Venerable English College in Rome in the early seventeenth century. The two other papers in the session will describe and analyse the Welsh and Irish poems and examine the context and significance of their composition.