(Photo: Fabio Stefano Alla, Flickr)
The History of Our Name
Our name has a historical origin, too.
Between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, most colleges and universities in Europe were referred to with the Latin terms Sapientia or Casa della Sapientia.
In 1303, when Pope Boniface VIII founded the University of Rome, it was called the Studium Urbis. However, by the mid-fifteenth century, the university area in the Rione Sant’Eustachio was already referred to in official documents as Sapientia. By 1551, a map of Rome already indicated the Studium Urbis University as Sapientia and, in 1568, the Dominican Friar Fernandes referred to the “Accademia Romana quam vocant Sapientiam”. It was the first time that a document referred to the university by the unofficial name that it had acquired over the course of time.
In 1632, the university was officially renamed “Studium Urbis Sapientiae”. In fact, the term Sapientia appeared in engravings over the main gate of the university building designed by Giacomo della Porta at the end of the sixteenth century (Initium Sapiantiae timor Domini) and on Francesco Borromini’s south façade (Ob Sapientiae gloriam et patrocinum), which completed the university with the Church of Sant’Ivo. When the new university complex was inaugurated in 1660, a medal was coined for the occasion. The commemorative medal was inscribed with “Omnis Sapientia a Domino”.
Following the unification of Italy in 1870, the university also adopted the term “regia” meaning royal.
When in 1935, the university was transferred to the new rationalist campus, the so-called “cittadella universitaria” designed by Marcello Piacentini, the term “Sapienza” suddenly disappeared and the university was simply referred to as the University of Rome.
In 1980, the Academic Senate voted to reintroduce the term “Sapienza,” which was officially re-adopted in 1982. The University was thus officially referred to as “Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza”.
In 2006, Sapienza revamped its historical Cherub logo and voted to call the university “Sapienza.” The official naming of the university is now “Sapienza – Università di Roma.”
The new statute, enacted in 2010, clarifies that the official name “Università degli Studi di Roma” coincides with “Sapienza Università di Roma” and the simpler “Sapienza” appellation.