In September 1939, as war was breaking out in Europe, Fordham hosted the first American gathering of an international student movement devoted to peace.
About 500 students came to campus from Sept. 3 to Sept. 8 for the annual congress of Pax Romana, a Catholic student federation that was seeking to establish itself in North America because of rising tensions in Europe. The delegates had met the week before at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
The agenda at Fordham included social events, addresses by Catholic leaders, and a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The mood among students was captured in the “Campus and Chapel” column in the Sept. 29 edition of The Ram:
“The Fordham campus was alive with students, thinking not of the coming year, nor of the football team beginning its fall season over beyond the tennis courts, but wondering how they were going to get back to their homes in Poland, France, Germany, Roumania, Belgium, Holland. Would there be anything left when they got back?”