James Cardinal Harvey, the Archpriest of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, recently visited the College to reflect on his years of service in the Vatican.

The American Cardinal, James Michael Harvey was the latest guest of the students St Andrew’s Literary and Debating Society to visit the college to talk to the community.

Cardinal Harvey is already a well known in the college as he visits regularly for the College feasts and ministries, however his visit gave the community to hear more about his journey from Wisconsin to his position as Archpriest at one of the Papal Basilicas in Rome.

Ordained a priest in 1975 by Blessed Pope Paul VI, he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, or Accademia, as it is known. The institute trains priests for the Vatican diplomatic service, and Cardinal Harvey progressed through the ranks to serve in the Dominican Republic before returning to the Vatican to work in the Secretariat of State.

The Cardinal spoke about his appointment as the first non-European Prefect of the Pontifical Household in 1998 by Pope St John Paul II. Working with the late Pope during the latter years of his Pontificate, Cardinal Harvey spoke about how his office tailored a programme to his needs. Working in such close proximity with the Holy Father, the Cardinal reflected on aspects of the sainted Pontiff, noting his sense of humour and his determination, the latter was especially clear in the final years, with silent but firm signs that the Pope used.


Cardinal Harvey continued as the Prefect until 2012 and spoke to the community about how, after the election of Pope Benedict he saw another approach to the papacy. His Eminence described the Pope Emeritus as a “quietly virtuous man”. Reflecting especially on his unexpected elevation to Cardinal and the conversation the two shared prior to the official announcement, the Cardinal described the series of events which left him with a sleepless night before meeting the Pope who asked how he was. The then Prefect intimated he’d not slept well to which the Pope replied, looking at his own white cassock, “Surprises do happen!”

His Eminence also joined the community for Evening Prayer and supper before his talk which ended with the chance for some questions from the group.