KU Leuven: KU Leuven prepares 600th anniversary in Rome and Vatican City

This week, a KU Leuven delegation is in Rome and Vatican City for a Josquin des Prez conference of the Alamire Foundation and to prepare for the university’s 600th anniversary in 2025. The delegation also had an audience with the Pope.

In 1521 the Franco-Flemish composer Josquin des Prez died. On the occasion of his 500th anniversary of death – and delayed by a year due to the pandemic – the composer will be celebrated this week at an international conference in Rome and Vatican City. The conference is an initiative of the Alamire Foundation , the International Center for the Study of Music in the Low Countries of KU Leuven. On Wednesday 30 March, Alamire director Bart Demuyt, professor Bart De Moor and rector Luc Sels, among others, will take the floor at the academic session. There will be the new video channel of the Alamire Foundation(alamire.tv) officially presented. The first series to appear on this channel is Misse Josquin, a twelve-part docu-concert series about the masses that can be definitely attributed to the composer, some of which Josquin des Prez composed in Vatican City.

600 years KU Leuven
The KU Leuven delegation has also planned a visit to the Sistine Chapel, the archives and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana , where the music manuscripts of Petrus Alamire are kept. There, Professor Bart Demuyt will present the digitization project Alamire Digital Lab and the further collaboration between the Biblioteca and the Alamire Foundation will be discussed. The collaboration with the Vatican is part of the preparations for the festivities in 2025, when KU Leuven celebrates its 600th anniversary.


Rector Luc Sels also had an audience with the Pope, together with Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon. Sels will also talk to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s ‘number two’. During that conversation, he wants to raise various themes. “I want to talk about how our university, as a value-driven institution, focuses not only on intellectual growth, but also on social, ethical and spiritual development. Just think of initiatives such as KU Leuven Engage , the charter for inclusion or our efforts forGlobal Development† Our international role in the heart of Europe will certainly be discussed, with university networks such as Una Europa, LERU, FUCE and FIUC, as well as our focus on academic capacity building in the Global South and especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And of course the war in Ukraine will also be discussed. On March 17, Pope Francis had a remarkable video call with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, in which he called for together “to help those who suffer and find ways to silence weapons and bring about peace.” That is a call that the KU Leuven community fully supports.”

During the short audience, the delegation was able to ask another important question: will the Pope come to Leuven in 2025 to celebrate the university’s 600th anniversary? “It’s hard to predict whether the Pope will actually be there,” Sels said. “After all, he has a very busy agenda and what we ask is not less. At the same time, KU Leuven is one of the oldest Catholic universities with a wide range of disciplines and the celebration in 2025 will be very special. So it would be a unique opportunity if we could officially welcome the Pope that year.”

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