August 25. ST. JOSEPH CALASANZ, Founder of the Piarists (Escolapios). Universal Patron of all the Christian popular schools in the world.


August 25. St. Joseph Calasanz

August 25. ST. JOSEPH CALASANZ, Founder of the Piarists.
Universal Patron of all the Christian popular schools in the world.

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Joseph Calasanz, a Spanish Catholic priest, born from a wealthy family, educator and the founder of the Pious Schools, providing free education to the sons of the poor, and the Religious Order that ran them, commonly known as the PIARISTS (also known as the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools, the Scolopi, ESCOLAPIOS or Poor Clerics of the Mother of God) which is the OLDEST CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL ORDER.

He was considered to be THE FOUNDER OF THE FIRST FREE PUBLIC SCHOOL IN MODERN EUROPE. In an era when no one else was interested in public education, Calasanz managed to set up schools with a highly complex structure. He was concerned with physical education and hygiene. He addressed the subject in various documents and requested school directors to monitor children’s health.

In his schools, he encouraged that Latin, Mathematics, Sciences and the vernacular language be taught. Nevertheless, his main concern was undoubtedly the moral and Christian education of his students. As both priest and educator, HE CONSIDERED EDUCATION TO BE THE BEST WAY OF CHANGING SOCIETY. All his writing is imbued with his Christian ideals, and the constitutions and regulations of the Pious schools were based on the same spirit. St. Joseph Calasanz created an ideal image of a Christian teacher and used it to train the teachers who worked with him.

He was THE FIRST EDUCATOR TO ADVOCATE THE PREVENTIVE METHOD: it is better to anticipate mischievous behaviour than to punish it. This method was later developed by John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian schools. In terms of discipline, and contrary to the prevailing philosophy of his own and subsequent eras, Calasanz favored the mildest punishment possible. While believing that punishment was necessary in certain cases, he always preached moderation, love and kindness as the basis of any discipline.


St. Joseph suffered a lot during his lifetime. His pedagogical idea of educating every child, his schools for the poor, his support of the heliocentric sciences of Galileo Galilei, and his service towards children and youth, carried with them the opposition of many among the governing classes in society and in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In 1642, as a result of an internal crisis in the congregation and outside intrigues and pressures, Calasanz was briefly held and interrogated by the Inquisition.

He was an object of injustices on the part of the powerful and of some clergy, but above all by a “spiritual” son of his, the infamous Father Stefano Cherubini, who in spite of his immoral life, and due to powerful family political connections, was appointed the Superior General of the Order, resulting to the isolation and putting aside of of St. Joseph from the order he himself founded. Upon his appointment, St. Joseph publicly documented Cherubini’s long pattern of child molestation, a pattern that he had known about for years. Even this did not block Cherubini’s appointment, but other members of the Order were indignant about it, although they may have objected to Cherubini’s more overt shortcomings. With such dissension, the Holy See took the easy course of suppressing the Order. In 1646, it was deprived of its privileges by Pope Innocent X. (See Annex)

The saint continued to live in disgrace and the whole system built up over the years was in danger of collapse. Nevertheless, he always remained faithful to the Church and died August 25, 1648, at the age of 90, admired for his holiness and courage by his students, their families, his fellow Piarists, and the people of Rome. He was buried in the Church of San Pantaleo.

He was beatified in 1748, and canonized in 1767. He was declared “UNIVERSAL PATRON OF ALL THE CHRISTIAN POPULAR SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD” by Pope Pius XII, in 1948, because he had the glory of opening “the first free tuition, popular, public school in Europe” (Von Pastor) and had proclaimed the right to education of all children, fought for it, and was persecuted because of this.


The order was restored in 1656 by Pope Alexander VIII who revived the congregation but without its earlier privileges, such as solemn vows granted by Gregory XV and added to the simple vows an oath of perseverance in the congregation. The Piarists, as do many religious organizations, profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In addition, according to the wishes of St. Joseph, members of the Order also profess a fourth vow to dedicate their lives to the education of youth, especially the poor.

The privileges of the order were successively restored in 1660, 1669 and 1698. In 1669, Pope Clement IX restored the Piarists to the condition of regulars. But petitions from members who hesitated to bind themselves by solemn vows led Clement X in 1670 to issue a brief which empowered the general of the Piarists to dispense from solemn vows laymen or clerics in minor orders, while ordained clerics in possession of a sufficient patrimony or a benefice were restored to the jurisdiction of their bishops.


Dear friends, let us thank God for the holy example of St. Joseph Calasanz who  amidst the numerous difficulties he faced, persevered and remained faithful to the God, to his vocation, and to the Church, for the service of all souls, especially for the education of the indigent poor children during his lifetime.

Let us also thank all the Piarists who have given themselves to God being faithful to the charisms of their holy founder and ask God so that He may shower abundant holy and faithful vocations to the Piarist order all over the world.

-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.

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TEXT SOURCE: I summarized some ideas of the saint’s biography and history of the Piarist Order found in and



One Comment Add yours

  1. imelda abenio says:

    Very informative and formative as well. It’s good to know our Saints who can pray and intercede for us. I’m truly edified by your published articles on line it deepens my understanding about my faith.
    God bless you Father and your staff.


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