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The Rome of a Cardinal's youth

The Cardinal looks out of the window of the English college where he studied in the 1950s

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor first spent time Rome in the 1950s, after leaving home to study for the priesthood in the English college at the heart of the medieval area of the city.

View from the roof of the English college

He remembers his life at the seminary fondly, speaking of the "terrific bond" you make with fellow students when you study overseas.

Library at the English college

As well as studying, the students were assigned jobs at the seminary that ranged from ping pong monitor to selecting and censoring the films the students were allowed to watch on the college cinema.

Cafe in Rome

They were not allowed to visit bars in the city, but the Cardinal broke the rules. Hiding in the corner of the bar, he was spotted by one Monsignore Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI.

Sistine chapel

The Cardinal was amazed by the architecture and art of post-war Rome. "For someone growing up in England during the war, coming out here in the early 1950s was thrilling," he says.

View of Lake Albano from Villa Palazzola

The Cardinal only returned to England once in the seven years of his study at the English college. He spent his summers at the college's retreat at Villa Palazzola, overlooking Lake Albano.

Courtyard of the Villa Palazzola

In the cloister of the old monastery, the Cardinal sang Gilbert and Sullivan songs with nuns watching from above.

Shrine in the gardens at Villa Palazzola

The Cardinal says that his education "formed you in a particular mould in which you had to grow" but at the same time "it could have been a broader education."

The Cardinal with Today presenter Edward Stourton

Returning to England to go "on the Mission" the Cardinal did not feel fully prepared for life in the parish, and had to learn again how to be a priest. "I wouldn't have been without it though," he says.

Guest editor: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Saturday, 27 December 2008, 10:24 GMT |  Today
Profile: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Monday, 4 April 2005, 17:39 GMT |  UK
The Rome of a Cardinal's youth
Tuesday, 30 December 2008, 08:33 GMT |  Today

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