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FSCIRE is a research institute specialized in the History of Christianity and its relationship with other religions. It was established in 1953 first as a library, then as a research institute, and in 1990 was formally recognized as a Foundation by a decree of the President of the Italian Republic.


As a private foundation, independent from Churches and universities, FSCIRE participates in and promotes cooperation with international research centres and networks. Some of the core research experiences of the institute (such as the History of Vatican II, the edition of the Decrees of the Councils of all Churches, the edition of the Diaries of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Pope John XXIII, and the Dictionary of Religious Historical Knowledge of the Twentieth Century) were made possible by consolidated collaborations which became means for training generations of scholars. Such a tradition is maintained through ongoing projects, like the research conducted on the History of the Desire for Christian Unity.


Thanks to its leading position and strategic capability to offer a unique set of sources for research, in 2014 the Italian Government enlisted FSCIRE within the Italian research system as a National Research Infrastructure on historical religious studies.

The daily work of FSCIRE is carried on under the guidance of the Secretary, Professor Alberto Melloni, who acts in accordance with the Board of Directors, presided over by Professor Alessandro Pajno, and under the supervision of the International Scientific Committee of FSCIRE.



FSCIRE research pipelines concern ecumenism, religious illiteracy and religious pluralism, the decrees of all councils and synods of all churches (Conciliorum Œcumenicorum Generalium Decreta, COGD), the history and doctrines of Islam, and the digital humanities.

The most important pillars of the research activity are the two libraries:

  • Giuseppe Dossetti Library which is placed in Bologna and was founded in 1953. The library offers scholars a wealth of over 1,000,000 volumes and 2,300 periodicals that cover the entire breadth of religious sciences from a historical, exegetical, and theological point of view. In 1997, it was named after Giuseppe Dossetti (1913-1996), who instituted and designed its catalogue.

  • Giorgio La Pira Library on the history and doctrines of Islam placed in Palermo. It was established in October 2018, as a library specialised in the history and doctrines of Islam, with the aim of representing all its linguistic, doctrinal, and cultural varieties. The library, which is dedicated to Giorgio La Pira (1904-1977), a Sicilian scholar and political leader who played a key role in the peace movement throughout his life and career, holds 180,000 volumes.

FSCIRE also holds a large archive formed with the materials collected over the years by the researchers active in the Foundation, and with donations and acquisitions from private individuals. The Archive is therefore composed of numerous collections linked to personalities who animated the history of the Roman Catholic Church of the Twentieth century (such as Giuseppe Dossetti, Giacomo Lercaro, Lorenzo Milani, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli/Pope John XXIII). One of the most remarkable collections held in the Archive is the one dedicated to the Second Vatican Council, which contains a large set of documents relating to the conciliar sessions, the documents and statements produced by the Council, as well as personal papers of the Council periti.


Teaching and education

FSCIRE provides an educational activity through the Alberigo European School for Advanced Religious Studies. The School offers scholarships for four-year specialization (equivalent to a PhD) in the branches of history of religions, exegesis and theology, and fills periodically positions by competition.

The teaching activities carried on by FSCIRE also include a Master in Religious Pluralism and Historical Studies addressed at practitioners, teachers and graduate students; training courses for school teachers; research seminars, which are organized as training activities in the context of the Alberigo European School for Advanced Religious Studies, but are open as well to the active participation of external researchers and scholars.

Positions for one and two-years scholarships are also available annually for postdoctoral research activities and address young people of all nationalities who want to collaborate to FSCIRE established research pipelines or want to inaugurate new ones.



Editorial activity

The editorial activity which derives from and supports the researches carried on at FSCIRE is expressed in the journals Cristianesimo nella Storia and Quaderni di Storia Religiosa Medievale, and in book series (Il Mulino, Brill, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) which are published in various languages for an international audience. FSCIRE also supports the publication of the journal Common Knowledge, published by Duke University Press.

News, events and updates on the main activities of FSCIRE (libraries, research projects, training programs, editorial news and much more) are collected in the magazine IN DIEM, which is issued periodically.



Networks and Infrastructures

FSCIRE is the initiator of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe), the Project Coordinator of ReIReS (Research Infrastructure on Religious Studies, Call INFRAIA H2020-2017) a starting community which is funded by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020, and the initiator and leading institution of RESILIENCE (Religious studies infrastructure: tools, innovation, experts, connections and centres in Europe), an interdisciplinary and scientific research infrastructure which builds a high-performance platform, supplying tools and access to physical and digital data to scholars in all disciplines of the religious studies in their diachronic and synchronic variety.



Other activities

FSCIRE hosts the UNESCO Chair in Religious Pluralism and Peace of the University of Bologna, which contributes to the dialogue between cultures and faith communities through the formation of researchers, in the belief that peace for future generations can be constructed through historical research and true confront. The Chairholder is Prof. Dr. Alberto Melloni.

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