Life with a Mission

Cardinal Willem Marinus van Rossum (1854-1932) was a kind of a stranger in the Sacred College of Cardinals, being Dutch, a Redemptorist and of humble birth. This brings about heuristic and contextual problems while investigating his significance. It partly explains his absence in the current historiography. Read more about it in the contribution in the Melanges de l'École francaise de Rome 2016: 128-1 (see the news blog).

''Life with a Mission' seems the best way to charactarize the life of Willem Marinus van Rossum. In the Catholic world at the beginning of the twentieth century,he was a well-known person. Less than a century later, he seems to have disappeared from the national and international recollection, a fate which is undeserved. Who then was Willem van Rossum, and why should we honour his memory?

In order to answer these questions and to retrieve the memory of Cardinal van Rossum, as an epitome of Catholicism of his time, the Tilburg School of Theology has started a project to write his biography. At the moment, the biography is translated into English, in order to make it available to a large audience.

Part of this project is the publication of a special volume on Van Rossum's life and work, which was presented at a Symposium in Wittem on the 26th of November 2011, one century after his creation as a cardinal by Pope Pius X on the 27th of November 1911: Life with a Mission: Cardinal Willem Marinus van Rossum CSsR (1854-1932). For an account of the meeting, including photographs an lecturers, see Symposium Wittem, November 26, 2011. The volume of the same name as a result of this meeting is still available. Just send an e-mail to

Design: Frank G. Bosman