About Us

President: Prof. Antonio Mercurio

Vice-President: Prof.ssa Paola Sensini Mercurio




            The Sophia University of Rome was founded by Antonio Mercurio and a group of close collaborators during a ten-year process of individual and group research and growth. The process was also shared with all those people who, in ever greater numbers, joined them in their journey. During this foundational period they developed practical, real-life approaches to improving their quality of life, on both a psychological and an existential level; these approaches are based on original intuitions that have given rise to a unique theory and practice, as well as to the development of specific tools for verification of the efficacy of this approach over time.

The first training activities began in Rome in 1970, with the birth of the I.P.A. (Istituto di Psicoterapia Analitica Esistenziale – The Institute of Existential Analytical Psychotherapy – which soon became the Istituto di Antropologia Esistenziale – The Institute of Existential Anthropology – and of Sophia-Analysis). In 1978 Antonio Mercurio founded the SOPHIA UNIVERSITY OF ROME (S.U.R.), to organize and unify the various Institutes that had meanwhile sprung up in Italy (in Florence, Cosenza, Catanzaro, Taranto, Ascoli Piceno, Bologna, Prato, Pescara, Catania, Albano, Bari, Milano, Bolzano and Trento) and elsewhere in Europe (in Geneva, Brussels, Paris, Grenoble and Marseille). In that same year, Antonio Mercurio wrote, together with a group of close collaborators, the “Letter to Humanity” (published in the magazine “Persona” edited by the S.U.R.) , which became the S.U.R.’s  manifesto and contains the principles and values the organization aspires to. It also delineates the two principle training programs that are offered at affiliated Institutes of Sophia-Analysis and of Existential Personalistic Anthropology. In 1979, Antonio Mercurio founded the Institute of Sophia-Analysis in Geneva.  In that same year, the S.U.R. held its first seminar on “Prenatal Life” in Rome, in collaboration with the “La Sapienza” University of Rome and many other Italian and foreign researchers. The Acts were published in the S.U.R.’s magazine “Quaderni di Psicoterapia Analitica Esistenziale” {Journals on Existential Analytical Psychotherapy}. In Geneva in 1980 the first “International week of Sophia-Analysis” was held. It was thereafter held annually; the first one was in Switzerland, and after it was held in Belgium, France and Italy; they still continue today. In 1981 Antonio Mercurio founded the Institute of Sophia-Analysis in Brussels and, in 1984 together with Paola Sensini Mercurio, founded the Institute of Sophia-Analysis in Paris. Also in 1981, Antonio Mercurio, in collaboration with the Institute of Sophia-Analysis of Florence, presented a paper at the Stensen Institute in Florence entitled: “Nichilismo o speranza, dalla psicoanalisi alla sophia-analisi”  {Nihilism or Hope, from Psychoanalysis to Sophia-Analysis} , where he proposed the passage from the analysis of the psyche to the analysis of the wisdom that is contained within every human being. In this paper, he asserts the importance of searching not only for the causes of neuroses, psychoses and various conflicts, but of above all the wise solutions that are in harmony with the SELF’s project, that characterizes the specific and unique purpose of every human person.

During the same year, the 1st National Congress of the S.U.R. was held in Pescara, Italy, entitled “Evoluzione del pensiero psicoanalitico da Freud a Mercurio”  {The Evolution of Psychoanalytical Thought from Freud to Mercurio}, and the Acts were published in the magazine “Quaderni di Psicoterapia Analitica Esistenziale” {Journal of Existential Analytical Psychotherapy}. In 1983, during the International Congress organized by the ASPI and the S.U.R. entitled “Vita Prenatale: Prospettive scientifiche e culturali per una nuova concezione dell’uomo” {Prenatal Life. Scientific and Cultural perspectives for a new conception of humanity}, Prenatal Personalistic Anthropology was officially born. Many Italian and international researchers took part in this, and its Keynote Lecture was held by Antonio Mercurio.

In 1984, the 3rd National Congress of the S.U.R. was held in Catania, Italy, with the theme “Psychoanalysis and Sophia-Analysis in the Interpretation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex”. The Acts of the Congress were published in the magazine “Quaderni di Psicoterapia Analitica Esistenziale” {Journal of Existential Analytical Psychotherapy}. In 1985, during the 4th National Congress of the S.U.R. in Milano with the theme “Psicoanalisi, Arte e Persona” {Psychoanalysis, Art and Person}, (Acts published by F. Angeli Publisher), Antonio Mercurio presented as the Keynote Lecture his paper entitled “The Myth of Sophia-Analysis: Life as a Work of Art”.

In 1986, the Congress entitled “Nascere e poi?” {To be born, and then what?} was organized in Ascoli Piceno by Dr. Italia Gabriella Sorgi and Dr. Domenico Romagnoli, sponsored by the S.U.R.. Among the participants were Fedor Freyburgh, the President of the I.S.P.P., the International Society of Prenatal Psychology, as well as professors from the Universities of Strassbourg and Stockholm and the Italian Ambassador to UNICEF, Giulietta Masina. Also in 1986, from September 21-28, the S.U.R. participated in the VIII International Congress of the I.S.P.P. in Badgastein, Austria, by bringing a Sophianalytical contribution as well as by publishing the Acts of the Congress in 1987, through its Department for Prenatal Anthropology. In 1987, the 1st International Congress for Existential Personalistic Anthropology was held in Assisi from July 19-25, attended by Italians, Swiss and Beligans. The Acts were published in number 14 of the magazine “Persona”. Still in 1987, from 28-31 October, the Institute of Sophia-Analysis in Cosenza organized the 5th National Congress of the S.U.R., entitled “L’Uomo e il suo futuro – Nuove letture dell’Orestea di Eschilo” {Humanity and its future – New ways of looking at Aeschylus’ Oresteia}. The Acts were published under the same name by “Costellazione di Arianna” publishers. During the year 1987, the evolution of Antonio Mercurio’s thought gave rise to Sophia-Art, which proposes a view of human beings as artists of their own lives. Artists not only bend matter to their artistic intention, but with their spirit they grasp the secrets of matter and form that others have not yet perceived, and by doing so they create beauty. A true work of art goes beyond time, and it conquers a true immortality within the space-time of this universe. Unfortunately, not everyone who manages to create a work of art becomes also an artist of their own life. However, if we apply to human life what is valid for the works of art created by artists, we can understand how human beings, who have always aspired to conquer immortality, can indeed conquer true immortality if they decide to realize the deep goal of becoming artists of their lives. Whereas Psychoanalysis opened the way to more deeply understanding the human psyche, with Sophia-Analysis and Sophia-Art we can discover the enormous possibilities and the precious creative, artistic goals that are inscribed within human nature. These goals become manifest only through the free choices and the responsible decisions made by each person. Through works of art, humanity has left its mark of its elevation and its ability to express itself throughout history, but it must also take into account its destructiveness. If human beings, however, could become capable of bending not only matter but also their spirit (the I ) to the intention of art, it is then certain that we could develop a life as a work of art that would be able to express immortal truth and beauty.

Laboratories on Sophia-Art were then held in Rome from 1987 to 1994 (a total of 41 laboratories), with 100 to 150 people present each time. The text from these Laboratories were published by Antonio Mercurio in the book “La vita come opera d’arte e la vita come dono spiegata in 41 film” ( SUR Publisher, 1995) {Life as a work of art and life as a gift explained in 41 films}. In 1989, the 2nd International Congress of Existential Personalistic Anthropology was organized by the Paris Institute of Sophia-Analysis and held in Paris, France, entitled “La Vita come Opera d’Arte” {Life as a Work of Art}. The Acts were published by the magazine “Persona” and also in book form by the publishers Costellazione di Arianna. In 1991, the 3rd International Congress of Existential Personalistic Anthropology was held in Martina Franca, Italy, organized by the I.P.A.I.S. of Taranto. The theme was “Da Cristo a Gandhi, un nuovo modo di concepire la spiritualità e la politica” {From Christ to Gandhi, a new way of conceiving spirituality and politics}. The Acts from the Congress were published with the same title by Costellazione di Arianna. In 1993, the Olimpiadi della Forza Amorosa {Olympics of the Love Force} of the S.U.R. were held in Lecce, Italy, with the theme “Dall’esplosione all’implosione dell’ideale di perfezione assoluta per la creazione di una nuova umanità” {From the explosion to the implosion of the ideal of absolute perfection for the creation of a new humanity}. The Olympics were organized by the I.P.S.A.S. in Lecce, as was the publication of the DVD of all the performances presented by every Institute and the book “Diario di Bordo” {The Ship’s Log} , where each Institute shares the experiences they had while preparing for and participating in the Olympics.  

In 1994, Antonio Mercurio created the Choral Group Laboratories of Existential Anthropology (18 Laboratories were held between 1994 and 2004) that in 2004 were transformed into Choral Group Laboratories of Cosmoartistic Anthropology. During these Laboratories, attended by the Directors and staff of the various Institutes affiliated to the SUR, all the decisions regarding the S.U.R.’s activities and projects are made, and study and research topics pertaining to Existential Anthropology and its theoretical and practical development are explored. In the course of the Laboratories Antonio Mercurio has gradually shared the evolution of this thought, from Sophia-Art to Cosmo-Art. The book “La nascita della Cosmo-Art” {The Birth of Cosmo-Art}, published by the SUR in 2000, contains all the material produced during these Laboratories up until that year. Since 2004, attendance to these Laboratories has been opened to all the students enrolled in the various single Institutes as well as to the Directors and their staff, so as to create a broader choral participation and to be able to transform the SUR into a single living organism. Each Institute, in the course of two Laboratories held during the academic year, takes their turn presenting work on one of the seven Cosmo-Art Theorems and one of the Cosmo-Art Axioms (see A.M. “The Cosmo-Art Theorems and Axioms” published by the Solaris Institute, 2009). In 1994, the Cosmo-Art Group was formed, which is facilitated by A. Mercurio and his wife Paola Sensini Mercurio. This group, which then became the organizational staff for the Cosmo-Art Laboratories, works on the Cosmo-Art principles and on how they can be brought into their lives. They also prepare each Cosmo-Art Laboratory, following the indications offered by A.M. regarding the Cosmoartistic interpretation of the film that has been chosen either by him or proposed by the group. The goal of Sophia-Art, to become an artist of one’s own life, becomes enriched by Cosmo-Art, which represents the even greater goal of becoming artists of the life of the Universe. If humanity can learn to fuse the cosmic forces with human forces, it can become a co-creator with Life and with the Universe. Life is eternal but it is not immortal, just as this Universe is not immortal. With the fusion of pain, wisdom and art, which are cosmic forces, and the fusion of truth, freedom, love and beauty, which are human forces, humanity can decide to make an evolutionary step forward and fuse together human and cosmic forces, and create a quantum of immortal beauty. Human beings who rid themselves of their narcissism and decide to act as artists instead of as victims, feeling they are part of a single living organism, can create, in time, an immortal field of energy that does not die, even when the artists who have created it die. It is a field of energy that goes beyond the space-time of this universe and can travel from one universe to another, forever. Cyanobacteria (the microscopic blue algae of millions of years ago) created a quantum of oxygen by nourishing themselves with light, and this oxygen added together created the atmosphere that is at the basis of the biosphere we live in. The cyanobacteria are now dead, but, thanks to them, life evolved and expanded, and will continue to expand despite all the apocalyptic religious and non-religious visions that have circulated throughout human history. The photosynthesis created by cyanobacteria is most certainly a work of art. The question remains: who taught them to extract oxygen from light? And who had in mind the birth of the biosphere, even though the cyanobacteria knew nothing about it?

From life as a work of art immortal beauty can be born that does not yet exist. Human beings, who have a form of mortal life, have the great power, if they decide to use it, to create a form of immortal life. This has already been demonstrated throughout the history of art; now, through a qualitative leap, a new history of the power of art can begin. Art (Cosmo-Art), by entering into the very life of human beings and, by transforming their very essence and their existence, can make an immortal being emerge from a mortal one, and can create immortal beauty from mortal beauty. What else will be born in the future from this new field of energy? Light is born from stars, oxygen is born from light, human life is born from oxygen; what will be born from human life? These are some of the questions that have given rise to Cosmo-Art. The 1st Laboratory of Cosmo-Art was held in Frascati (Rome), on June 21-22 1997, facilitated by the Cosmo-Art Group. They are still held today, twice a year. In 2006 the book entitled “I Laboratori corali della Cosmo-Art” {The Cosmo-Art Laboratories} was published by the S.U.R. and it contains all the writings from the first twenty laboratories. In 2010, the 26th and 27th Laboratories of Cosmo-Art were held.  

The first Laboratory had the task of preparing the people within the S.U.R. for the Cruise of the Ulysseans (the first Ulyssiads of the S.U.R. were held in July 1998 aboard a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea), of those who want to travel from this universe to other universes by creating secondary beauty. In 1995, the 4th International Congress of Existential Personalistic Anthropology was held in Belgium, organized by the Institute of Sophia-Analysis of Bruxelles. Its theme was “La Menzogna Esistenziale” {The Existential Lie}. During the same year, the Istituto di Antropologia Personalistica Esistenziale (IAPE) {Institute of Existential Personalistic Anthropology} was founded in Rome, followed by Institutes in Taranto, Cosenza and Tempio Pausania. In Ascoli Piceno the “Laboratorio di ricerca sulle leggi della vita” {Laboratory of Research on the Laws of Life} was founded, which initiated a path of fusion between the principles of Sophia-Analysis, Sophia-Art and Cosmo-Art. This path gave way to a new method called “Sophianalytical Dance Theater”. Gabriella Sorgi presented this method at the World Council for Psychotherapy (WCP) Congresses, organized by Prof. Alfred Pritz of Vienna. A group of Russians were fascinated by it, and they decided to come to the IASCC of Ascoli Piceno each year to learn this method, along with other colleagues from the Baltic countries and from Kazakhstan. In 1999, during the 2nd Congress of the WCP held in Vienna, Antonio Mercurio and Ombretta Ciapini presented a paper which expresses the hope that humanity can pass from the myth of Oedipus to the myth of Ulysses. This paper was subsequently published by Alfred Pritz in the Acts of the Congress. Antonio Mercurio wrote an ample commentary on the Odyssey, published in 2007, entitled “Ipotesi su Ulisse” {Hypotheses on Ulysses}. In this book, he expounds on Homer’s wisdom and on the artistic premise of Cosmo-Art. (the first edition was published by the S.U.R. in 2007, the second edition was published by Carra in 2008, and the third edition, in English, was published by the Solaris Institute in 2010).

In 1998, in Belgium, the 5th International Congress of Existential Personalistic Anthropology and Cosmo-Art was held at the same time as the First Ulyssiads of the S.U.R. In 2005, the Second Ulyssiads of the S.U.R. were organized by the Institute in Tempio Pausania and held in Sardinia. The DVD of the performances done by the various Institutes was produced by the Directors of the Institute in Tempio Pausania, Fatma Pitzalis and Luigi Atella. In this brief history of the SUR we have not mentioned the innumerable cultural and scientific initiatives that have been organized by the various Institutes and Centers of the SUR aimed at the social, educational and political spheres.

Here we would like to mention the creation of the “Premio Cinema e Narrativa” {Cinema and Narrative Prize} for young people based on a Sophiartistic critique of film. Organized by Dr. Anna Agresti, President of the Microcosmo Association, it has been held yearly since 1998. We would also like to mention the weeklong winter and summer seminars of Cosmoartistic Onirodrama, organized by Dr. O. Ciapini and Dr. B. Bonvecchi, Directors of the IPAE Institute in Cosenza and held in beautiful areas in Italy, Tunisia, Marocco, Ithaca in Greece, and in Croatia aboard a sailboat. The S.U.R., as a new Ulysses, is a group on a journey, where each person learns to become an artist of his or her own life and of the life of the Universe, and to choose love and beauty at every crossroads in life, as set down in the Pact for Cosmoartistic Beauty.