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(From Lat. alo, "to nurse", or "feed").
Alumnus signifies in ecclesiastical usage, a student preparing for the sacred ministry in a seminary. Originally the word meant a child adopted with certain restricted privileges, or a foster-child. Since the Council of Trent, however, the word has become equivalent to a seminarian, and as such is often applied to the students of the ecclesiastical colleges in Rome. The Council of Trent (sess. xxiii, ch. 18, de Ref.) required bishops to establish institutions for the education of students for the priesthood. Formerly, church candidates had been educated in the houses of priests, in monasteries, or in the public universities. According to the Council, such alumni, among other qualifications, should be a least twelve years of age and able to read and write, and their disposition should be such as to give hope that they would adorn perpetually the sacred ministry. Children of the poor were to be especially favoured. Besides philosophy, theology, scripture, and canon law, they were to study rites and ceremonies, sacred eloquence and plain chant. The bishop was to see that the students heard Mass daily, confessed monthly, and communicated as often as advisable. On festival days they were to take part in the cathedral services. The bishop was also exhorted to visit these students frequently, to watch over their progress in learning and piety, and to remove hindrances to their advancement. In 1896, the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars laid down rules for the guidance of bishops in regard to alumni who attend public universities, requiring especially that they do not associate too familiarly with the other students, and that they be gathered frequently for spiritual conferences and for philosophical, theological, and historical discussions. (See SEMINARY, ECCLESIASTICAL.)
LUCIDI, De Visit. Sac. Lim., I, III (Rome, 1889); LAURENTIUS, Inst. Jur. Eccl. (Freiburg, 1903), 471; BOUIX, De Episcopo, II (Paris, 1889).
WILLIAM H.W. FANNING