John W O'Malley


University Professor


Department of Theology
General profile




John O’Malley is University Professor in the Theology Department at Georgetown University. His specialty is the history of religious culture in early modern Europe, especially Italy. He has received best-book prizes from the American Historical Association, the American Philosophical Society, the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, the American Catholic Historical Association, and from the Alpha Sigma Nu fraternity. His best known books are The First Jesuits (Harvard University Press, 1993), which has been translated into twelve languages, What Happened at Vatican II (Harvard, 2008), now in six languages, and The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), now in seven languages. A companion to the book on Vatican II is his Trent: What Happened at the Council (Harvard, 2012), in five languages. He has edited or co-edited a number of volumes, including three in the Collected Works of Erasmus series, University of Toronto Press. Of special significance is The Jesuits and the Arts, (Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2005), co-edited with Gauvin Alexander Bailey, and Art, Culture, and the Jesuits: The Imago primi saeculi, 1640) (Saint Joseph's University Press, 2015). In 2015 he also published Catholic History for Today's Church: How Our Past Illuminates Our Present (Rowman & Littlefield). He edits a series with Saint Joseph's University Press entitled Early Modern Catholicism and the Visual Arts, in which thirteen titles have appeared to date.

John O’Malley has lectured widely in North America and Europe to both professional and general audiences. He has held a number of fellowships, from the American Academy in Rome (Prix de Rome), the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and other academic organizations. He is past president of the Renaissance Society of America and of the American Catholic Historical Association. In 1995 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1997 to the American Philosophical Society, and in 2001 to the Accademia di san Carlo, Ambrosian Library, Milan, Italy. He holds the Johannes Quasten Medal from The Catholic University of America for distinguished achievement in Religious Studies, and he holds a number of honorary degrees. In 2002 he received the lifetime achievement award from the Society for Italian Historical Studies, in 2005 the corresponding award from the Renaissance Society of America, and in 2012 the corresponding award from the American Catholic Historical Association. He is a Roman Catholic priest and a member of the Society of Jesus.