The Society’s first Roman Procurator was Fr. Cornelius Schut who was appointed to this office in 1924, and who fulfilled its duties while living and teaching at the Beda College. Fr. Schut died in Rome in the summer of 1941.
After Fr. Schut’s death, The Society’s contact with the Vatican was in the hands of Fr. Hans Brugger, who was already studying in Rome. It is likely that, during the war years, Fr. Brugger and other MHMs lived inside the Vatican City.
In the autumn of 1947, Fr. Gerard van Hall, who had also pursued doctoral studies in Rome, became Procurator General. At this time efforts were made by the Society to acquire its own premises in the city. In due course a property was bought at 9, Via Anton Giulio Barrili. This was to serve as the Society’s Roman Procure for the next decade. Here Cardinal Nicola Canali was welcomed as the Society’s Cardinal Protector. [see photo]
In 1957 Fr. Van Hall was appointed Rector of the Missiehuis in Roosendaal was succeeded as Procurator General by Fr. Martin Fleischmann. Soon negotiations were begun with a view to buying a villa on Via Innocenzo X from the Gallini family, and to sell the property on Via Barrili, which was finally bought by the Ursuline Sisters of Trent.
The Cardinal Protector was unable to conduct the blessing of the new Procure, and this was done by Cardinal Gregory Agagianian, The Prefect of Propaganda on May 1st 1959, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Fr. Fleischmann reported to Mill Hill: “We received him at the big entrance and then he put on cotta and stole and began to bless the house. Then he assisted at solemn benediction given by Fr. Keaney.
Afterwards we went to our reception room and there I introduced to him first Mrs. Gallini who was, of course, more than pleased, and then the Fathers and the Brothers… I thanked the Cardinal at the end and he signed the visitor’s book and then left the house. It was 6.50. Then we had a drink together. The cardinal did not take part in it, because he had expressly asked that we should not offer him anything in that line.”
The legal formalities for the purchase of the house were completed towards the end of 1959.
In 1963 Fr. Fleischmann was succeed by Fr. Joseph Leimegger who held the office of Procurator General until he retired to the Tirol in 1977. Fr. Fleischmann once again became Procurator and died suddenly in January 1982.