The Pontifical International Marian Academy has its origins with the order of Friars Minor. On July 27, 1946, the Minister General created the Commissio Marialis Franciscana at the International College of St. Anthony in Rome. Its task was to coordinate and promote studies in favor of Marian doctrine and devotion in the Order of Friars Minor. These studies especially dealt with the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which was celebrating its first centenary and the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary which was about to be defined. For this reason various Congresses dedicated to the Assumption were held.
The first president of the Commissiowas Friar Carlo Balic, who directed the Chair of Marian Studies at the Pontifical Atheneum Antonianum. The “Ordinationes peculiares” of this Commissiowere approved by the General Definitorium on April 30, 1947, and asked for the institution of a Marian Academy in Rome. This Academy was given the specific task of organizing scientific debates and conferences as well as care for the publication of the “Bibliotheca Mariana”. This Academywas officially inaugurated by the Minister General Friar Pacifico Perantoni on April 29, 1947 during the First Mariological Congress of the Italian Friars Minor. According to the Statuta peculariait was the task of the Minister General, as Honorary President, to name the director of the Academy, which began working with the Commissio.
The activities of the Commissio-Academiagave Balic the possibility of getting to know many theologians and Marian scholars from around the world. It was during these Encounters dedicated to the Assumption that he met renowned Marian scholars of the Catholic world and had the chance to exchange ideas and opinions, making note of differences, confusions and even contradictions. All of this stimulated him to transform the Commissio-Academiainto an international body, open to all, for the coordination of Marian studies around the world. In this way single Mariological Institutions would be able to join their efforts as well as exchange ideas and research for Mariology.
In 1950 the Academia Mariana Internationaliswas presented to the theological world with the celebration of the first International Mariological Congress and the eighth International Marian Congress. The Congresses of 1948 and 1958 followed and in this way the Academiai proved its competence in organizing these great international gatherings. Given the fact that there needed to be a special permission given each time there was a celebration of an International Congress, the Holy See was asked to institute a permanent organ for the promotion and moderation of the Mariological-Marian Congresses. The Academia Mariana was proposed for this responsibility. On December 8, 1959, Pope John XXIII, with the motu proprio Maiora in dies gave the Academy the title of “Pontifical”. In this way he instituted in it the permanent Committee charged with organizing the celebration of International Mariological and Marian Congresses. Said Committee, with the Statutes approved by Pope John Paul II is the Council of the Academy.
The work of PAMI has a twofold purpose: to promote and favor the scientific studies of the Virgin Mary, be they speculative or historical-critical, and to organize periodic Marian Conventions and Conferences Academy. The results of which are edited and published in Mariological Collections, be they of historical or theological in nature.
It is the will of the Church that it be an International, yet centralized body for the coordination of Mariological work in various nations and in the single scientific entities. This task of coordination was highlighted by the pontifical document of Pope John XXIII: “It is our desire that this our Academy continue, as it has up till now, to work for the friendly union of forces and intent of all other Marian Academies and Societies existing in the world so as to contribute to the praise and honor of the Virgin Mary”.