Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies


Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
Seal of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
Latin: Pontificum institutum studiorum Mediae Aetatis
Other name
Typepontifical university, research institute
Established1929 (1929)
FounderÉtienne Gilson
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic
Academic affiliation
St. Michael's College, University of Toronto
ChancellorThomas Christopher Collins
PresidentAugustine Thompson, O.P.
59 Queen's Park Crescent East
, , ,
M5S 2C4
43°39′56″N 79°23′28″W / 43.6656°N 79.3910°W / 43.6656; -79.3910
Logo of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
Main building at St Michael's College
Main entrance of the institute

The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) is a research institute in the University of Toronto that is dedicated to advanced studies in the culture of the Middle Ages.


The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, currently Thomas Christopher Collins, acts as the chancellor of the institute. The Praeses (or president) of the Institute is Augustine Thompson, O.P.[1]


It was founded in 1929 as the Institute of Mediaeval Studies at St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto. Étienne Gilson, then of the Sorbonne, was instrumental in its foundation, along with Henry Carr and Edmund J. McCorkell of the Congregation of St. Basil and St. Michael's College. In 1939 it was granted a pontifical charter by Pope Pius XII, by which it was given the power to grant licenciate and doctorate degrees in medieval studies.[2]

In 1964 the University of Toronto established the Centre for Medieval Studies as part of the School of Graduate Studies, for students pursuing a master's degree or doctorate in medieval studies. Teaching at these levels gradually passed from the Institute to the Centre. (The Centre officially uses the spelling "medieval" while PIMS uses "mediaeval".) Students of the Centre for Medieval Studies have access to the PIMS building and library.

Up until 1958 the institute had its own charter. From 1958 to 2005, PIMS was a division of St. Michael's College. The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Act of 2005 gave the institute academic autonomy from the university.[3] Under the act, PIMS is administered by a board of governors with its academic affairs vested in the Institute Council of the academic staff, consisting of fellows and associate fellows.

Postdoctoral Program and Licence in Mediaeval Studies

In 1998 the institute became an exclusively postdoctoral research centre, and it accepts students who have recently completed their doctoral studies and wish to conduct specialized research in medieval studies. PIMS offers a Licence in Mediaeval Studies (LMS) as a degree exclusively for students who have completed their postdoctoral studies there. [4] (The application for the LMS refers to it as a "Licentiate" and not as a "Licence.")[5] Unusually for a Pontifical licentiate, the degree is awarded after its bearer has already earned a doctorate, and not on the way to such.

Étienne Gilson Lecture

Since 1979 the institute has hosted an annual lecture from "a senior medievalist" in honour of its co-founder and his research interests. Previous lecturers include Jaroslav Pelikan, Mark D. Jordan, John F. Wippel, Peter Brown, and Francis Oakley. Lectures have been given on topics such as medieval philosophy, medieval art, medicine in the Middle Ages, and medieval historiography. [6]


The institute has its own library with over 150,000 volumes, one of the largest collections of medieval documentation in North America. The library is part of the larger system of the University of Toronto Libraries. [7] The library contains over 9,000 reels of microfilm and over 60,000 slides. Materials are non-circulating, and use of the library is generally restricted to PIMS and Centre for Medieval Studies faculty, researchers, and graduate students, though visitor passes may be obtained by contacting the library itself. [8]


PIMS also has an extensive publishing program that includes its annual journal of research on the Middle Ages, Mediaeval Studies, which began in 1939.[9] In 2004, it have reached the 66th volume.[10] A collection of Gilson Lectures focusing on Thomas Aquinas was published in 2008.

Faculty and fellows

Faculty and research fellows, visiting and otherwise, associated with PIMS have included:


  1. ^ "Announcement-new-praeses – Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies".
  2. ^ "Image of the Historical Plaque outside of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies".
  3. ^ "Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. Pr10". ServiceOntario e-Laws. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Licence in Mediaeval Studies".
  5. ^ "Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies Application, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies" (PDF).
  6. ^ "The Etienne Gilson Lecture".
  7. ^ "PIMS Library page from the University of Toronto Libraries". December 2011.
  8. ^ "Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies Library".
  9. ^ "Front Matter". Mediaeval Studies. 1: i–iv. 1939. ISSN 0076-5872.
  10. ^ Mediaeval Studies. Internet Archive. 66. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. 2004. ISBN 0-88844-668-3. ISSN 0076-5872.

External links

  • Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
  • Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto