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Center for Religious and Legal History

The Saint Louis University Center for Religious and Legal History is a research center devoted to advancing the study of the historical relationships between religion and law. Regardless of confession or tradition, the center assumes that immersion in the historical context and development of systems of religious law, and the history of the relationship between law and religion, leads to deeper understanding and wiser action. Consistent with the Jesuit mission and identity of SLU, the center proceeds from the principle that good, truth-seeking historical research encourages thoughtful and informed engagement in the present with both God and humankind.

Founded in 2020, the center provides the space, tools and opportunities for Saint Louis University students and faculty, and visiting scholars from around the world, to explore the development of religious systems of law, the influence of religious ideas and norms on legal systems, religious support of or opposition to laws, the legal regulation of religious practices and institutions, and the ongoing conversation between law and religion about questions of persecution, justice, and freedom.

The center has been built upon the History of Canon Law Endowed Research Fund, established through the generous donation of Professor Richard H. Helmholz, of the University of Chicago Law School. The fund is intended to support the following goals:

  • to build University library collections in the field of canon law
  • to train scholars in the use and analysis of source materials in the history of canon law
  • to provide stipends for student workers, thereby introducing them to the history of canon law
  • to fund graduate student research in the history of canon law
  • to support visiting researchers making use of the Vatican Film Library and other collections at Saint Louis University for the study of the history of canon law

In July 2022, at the XVIth International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, the board of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law, voted to approve Saint Louis University and the CRLH as an Arbeitsstelle, or study site, of the institute. The CRLH is proud to be associated with this venerable institution in the study of medieval canon law.

Supporting the Center

The Center for Religious and Legal History is an academic unit of the College of Arts and Sciences. If you would like to support the work of the center or contribute to the History of Canon Law Endowed Research Fund, please contact Atria Larson, director of the center, or you may give online.

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