The Congregation of Holy Cross sent four brothers to Rome, Italy, in 1850 at the personal request of Pope Pius IX. They were to educate the city’s orphans. This mission, given its location in the center of the Roman Catholic Church, was so important to Blessed Basile Moreau, that the founder himself accompanied the brothers to Rome. They arrived on November 12 and had a personal audience with the Holy Father on November 26.
The Congregation began working first at Santa Prisca but in 1851 quickly transferred its operations to Vigna Pia, which was the personal vineyard of Pius IX. The Pope gave this land to the Congregation for the development of an agricultural and industrial institute to train the orphans in trades so they could find work. Holy Cross continued that work until 1868.
That marked the end of the Congregation’s major apostolic works in Rome until 1952 when the brothers opened Notre Dame International to provide schooling for English-speaking students both in Rome and from the wider Mediterranean region. This school for boys went from fourth to twelfth grade. It remained open until 1991.
Back in 1853, the Congregation had opened its first house of studies in Rome. That house was for both seminarians preparing for the priesthood as well as for finally professed members doing advanced studies. Since then, Rome has remained a primary place of study for members of the Congregation from around the world.
As early as the 1850s, Moreau had also envisioned moving the General Administration of the Congregation to Rome so as to place the heart of his international Congregation within the heart of the Universal Church.
With the approval of the 1950 General Chapter, this hope was finally realized in October 1954 when the General Administration moved to its newly constructed home on Via Aurelia Antica. The property also served as the home of an international House of Theology for the Congregation.
"They say that all roads lead to Rome and that is equally true of Holy Cross. It is probably how Blessed Basil Moreau, who had a deep loyalty to the Holy Father and the Universal Church, dreamed it would become."
– Rev. Paul LeBlanc, C.S.C.
In 1969, the Congregation sold the property on Via Aurelia Antica, and the General Administration moved to its current location on Via Framura. Known as the Generalate, this house serves as the international headquarters of the Congregation. It is where the Superior General, the Vicar General, and some of the General Council live. It is also where many international meetings are held.
Under the leadership of Superior General Fr. Richard V. Warner, C.S.C., and his council, the Generalate at Via Framura was renovated over 2013-2014 so that it could better serve the growing internationalization of the Congregation.
As part of the renovation, a beautiful new chapel was built and named Chappelle Notre Dame de Sainte-Croix after the original chapel of the Congregation’s first school in LeMans, France. The stained glass windows in the chapel depict Our Lady of Sorrows, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and St. Joseph, to whom Blessed Moreau consecrated the Congregation. There are also windows of Blessed Moreau and St. André Bessette, the Congregation's first canonized saint.