The College of the Bernardins is one of the oldest buildings in Paris.
Cistercian monks in the 13th century had the idea of building a center of university studies. The Dominicans and the Franciscans already had their places of study and the Cistercians felt left out. Pope Innocent IV approved their project and they began the construction of the College in Paris. It was to become a place of privileged study for the most capable monks. The College attracted great professors and became the place where one could reflect on the questions in vogue during the 14th century. In 1789, because of the French Revolution, the College became State property. The school was closed and the monks forced out. The main building was used for various purposes by the city Town Hall, notably as a fire station.
The diocese of Paris bought it, and since 2008 the College of the Bernardins has found its initial vocation as a place of research and debate for the Church and for society. Debates and symposiums are organized here as well as numerous Christian instruction courses and artistic exhibits.
This historic place continues to live and participate in the reflection of man and his future in the heart of today’s society. On September 12, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI held a notable conference for hundreds of representatives from the world of culture.