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Calasanz, Joseph (1557–1648)

Calasanz, JosephArticle by Josep Domènech i Mira1

An educational giant

The year 1997 will mark the four-hundredth anniversary of free public primary education in modern Europe. It was four centuries ago that the great Spanish educator, Joseph Calasanz, founded the Pious schools, the first step on the long and difficult road to universal, free education. His philosophy and his life’s work were highly innovative and left their mark on this and many other aspects of education. In the seventeenth century, he was matched in stature only by Comenius, and a number of parallels can be drawn between the two educators. Each belonged to a separate and antagonistic camp in a Europe convulsed by the Thirty Years War: Comenius was the educator of Protestant Europe and Calasanz the educator of Catholic Europe. Both men were born in the sixteenth century, Calasanz in 1557 and Comenius in 1592. The difference in age was considerable, but the Spanish educator lived until the age of 91 and so was a contemporary of the Czech during the first half of the seventeenth century. In Moravia, Comenius’ homeland, and in other European countries, the influence of the two great teachers overlapped. Both promoted universal education and the use of national languages in schools. Both were responsible for significant innovations in teaching methods and educational structure. Although they held different positions, both men were profoundly religious. One was the founder of a Catholic congregation, the other was a Protestant bishop. Despite these commitments, the two men were the most important educators in the seventeenth century.They were also among the most significant figures in the entire history of education.

History, both in his own country, where he has always been held in high esteem, and in the international community, has always recognized the merits of Comenius. It has not, however, been equally generous to Calasanz. While he has enjoyed great prestige at various times in Spain, Italy and central Europe, the scant attention paid to Calasanz in many histories of education reflects his exclusion from the international pantheon.

This historical injustice has three basic causes. First, over-idealization by Calasanz’s biographers and followers appears to have produced a backlash. Secondly, too much emphasish as been placed on Calasanz’s religious life, overshadowing his strictly educational achievements. Thirdly, the fact that Calasanz left very few documents in which he gave a systematic account of his educational theory has made it difficult to appreciate and understandthe significance of his contribution.

The key to Calasanz’s thinking can be found in his letters—more than 10,000 of them—and in his texts on the founding, organization and operation of his schools and his congregation. These documents, all of which have been published, give us a clearer and more detailed appreciation of his accomplishments in the field of education.


Joseph Calasanz was born in 1557 in the Catalan-speaking Spanish town of Peralta de la Sal, located in Aragon, near to Catalonia. He was the seventh and last son of a family belonging tothe lower ranks of the Aragon nobility, the infanzónes, 2 and his father, who ran a foundry, was made mayor of Peralta. After completing his primary studies in his home town, the 11-year-old Calasanz went to Estadilla to study the humanities. In 1571 he moved to the nearby city of Lérida, home of the most celebrated university of the ancient kingdom of Aragon, drawing students from Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia, the three major communities of Aragon. As was customary in the medieval era, the students were divided into ‘nations’ and Calasanz was elected prior of the Aragonese. This was the first recognition of his natural authority and moral stature.

At the university of Lérida, Calasanz studied philosophy and law. He went on to study theology at the University of Valencia and at the University of Alcalá de Henares, and again in Lérida, finally obtaining his doctoral degree. He was ordained as a priest in 1583 and during his ecclesiastical career held various offices in the Catalan region. During that period, Calasanz spent several years in La Seu d’Urgell, a dangerous town close to the border with France. In those days bandits were a serious problem in Catalonia, and conditions were most extreme inthe frontier regions: bands of Gascons and Huguenots, involved in the turbulence in neighbouring France, were constantly crossing the border into Catalonia where they ran riot, committing all kinds of outrages and crimes.

It was Calasanz’s lot to live in those threatening and insecure times, and the situation was worse in La Seu d’Urgell than elsewhere because the diocese had been without a bishop for some time. The absence of strong authority, which in that epoch was exercized by the bishops, simply encouraged criminality. As secretary of the Cathedral Chapter, Calasanz hadbroad administrative responsibilities, as may be seen from the ten letters he sent to the viceroyof Catalonia in which he urgently requested help to deal with the dire situation in the region,where murder, pillage and extortion were rife.3

Calasanz’s ties to Lérida were strengthened by other posts he held in the region, including that of inspector of Tremp, a town where a convent of Dominican monks offeredinstruction in reading and writing. In those days Calasanz was a young man whose tall and powerful physique reflected the tremendous moral, intellectual and spiritual force that was to remain with him throughout his life. The tenacity with which he dedicated himself to his educational mission spoke of a Herculean strength—larger than life—that only a man of extraordinary abilities could sustain.

In his early years in Spain, Calasanz had already shown his concern for the poor and disadvantaged by establishing in Claverol a foundation that distributed food to the destitute each year. The charity remained in existence for nearly two-and-a-half centuries, until 1883. In that revealing initiative taken in his youth, the great social concern that Calasanz would later demonstrate in his educational work was already clear for all to see.

In 1592, at the age of 35, the future educator moved to Rome in the hope of furthering his ecclesiastical career. He lived there for most of his remaining fifty-six years. He became, during this long period, a fully fledged Roman with strong ties to both Rome and Italy, without ever losing touch with his Spanish roots.

Disturbed by the moral and physical degradation of large numbers of Roman children, Calasanz established in 1597 at the Church of Santa Dorotea of Trastévere the first Pious School, which was the first free public school in modern Europe.

In 1600 a Pious School opened in the centre of Rome and soon there were extensions in response to growing demands for enrolment from students who flocked from all over. In 1610 Calasanz wrote the Documentum princeps in which he set out the fundamental principles of his- 3 -3 educational philosophy. The text was accompanied by regulations for teachers and for students. In 1612, the school moved to San Pantaleón which became the parent house of all the Pious schools.

The first Pious school outside of Rome was established in Frascati in 1616. One year later, Pope Paul V created the Order of the Pious Schools, the first religious congregation dedicated essentially to teaching. During the following years Pious schools were established invarious parts of Italy, including Genoa (1625) and Naples (1626). During that period Calasanz drafted the constitutions for the Nazareno College of Rome and was in contact with Galileo. In1631, he founded the Mikulov College in Moravia where, soon afterwards, he also established the Stráznice and Leipnik colleges. Schools were set up in many other cities in Italy. Because of his earlier ties to the Lérida region in Spain, Calasanz tried in 1638 to establish his first Spanish school in Guissona, but the outbreak of war two years later prevented the completion of the project.In 1642, the Royal College of Warsaw and the Podoliniec College wereestablished in Poland, triggering off a great expansion of Pious schools in Poland.

In that same year, as a result of an internal crisis in the congregation and outside intrigues and pressures, Calasanz was briefly held and interrogated by the Inquisition. The following year, the elderly educator, drawn into a power struggle fuelled by political interests and personal ambitions, was discredited and removed from his post as general of the religious order that he had founded, to be replaced by one of his detractors. In the following years,Calasanz continued to live in disgrace, his religious order was demoted and the whole system built up over the years was in danger of collapse. In 1648, still in disgrace, Calasanz died at the age of 91 and was buried in San Pantaleón. Eight years after Calasanz’s death, Pope Alexander VII cleared the name of the Pious schools. Joseph Calasanz was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1748 and canonized nineteen years later. On 13 August 1948, Pope Pious XII declared him patron of all Christian public schools. Today, there are Pious schools in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia.

Birth of a vocation

Arriving in Rome at the end of the sixteenth century, Calasanz discovered a city with serious economic, health and moral problems. For an entire century, urban development had been hindered by various factors: the sacking of Rome in 1527; intermittent epidemics of the plague; and frequent and dangerous bursting of its banks by the River Tiber. As in other European cities of the time, much of the population of Rome was more or less destitute. One socialobserver commented in 1601: ‘In Rome, one sees nothing but beggars and there are so many of them that one cannot stand or walk in the streets without being continually surrounded by them’.5

Other religious communities of the time were concerned about this situation and made noble efforts to provide charity to sick and orphaned children. In addition, the city had been markedly influenced by the Council of Trent, which had decreed that the catechism was to be taught to all citizens and especially to the younger generation. It was this combination of urban poverty with a desire for religious and moral renewal that formed the background againstwhich Calasanz got to know the city’s fourteen districts.

As a member of variousconfraternities, and especially as the Visitor of one of them, he was thoroughly familiar with the extreme poverty and social and moral degradation existing in certain districts.The deplorable situation in which many children lived opened Calasanz’s eyes to theextraordinary importance of education as a means of promoting social and moral developmentand of bringing about change. In Rome, an educational vocation was thus awakened that wasin complete harmony with his religious mission and to which he would remain faithful throughout his life.

Rome in Calasanz’s time had some small single-teacher schools enrolling about thirty pupils, run by local teachers.6 While those schools were open to poor children, only a small number attended because there were very few teachers—only thirteen for the entire city—and their wages were so low that they were unable to offer education to the many poor children in Rome free of charge. There were also prestigious educational establishments teaching thehumanities, such as the Roman College run by the Jesuits. But that school only accepted pupilswho had already completed their basic studies, thus excluding large sectors of the working class who had never learned to read.

Furthermore, throughout Europe the systems of teaching inherited from the Middle Ages had been transformed by the humanist values of the Renaissance. Much greater emphasis wasp laced on classical studies, giving rise to an increasingly élitist education system.

Calasanz’s many visits to the poor neighbourhoods of Rome made him aware not only of the social situation of the many poor families living there, with their problems of food, hygiene, health and morality, but also of the fact that the talents of some of the children and adolescents in this situation were being wasted. This discovery distressed him greatly and was for him a severe but salutary shock: ‘Highly talented youngsters who might give great service to theState remain in the gloom of ignorance for want of instruction, both in literature and morals’.7

It was at that moment that the university doctorate who had been hoping to further his ecclesiastical career discovered a vocation for teaching. It was this new interest that really enabled Calasanz to accomplish his priestly vocation. The two approaches were by no means incompatible; in fact, they were mutually supportive and were to be closely linked throughout his life. Calasanz was a priest who found in teaching the most genuine and personal means of expressing his religious aspirations.

During his visits to the poorer quarters of Rome, Calasanz had discovered a small parish school in the Church of Santa Dorotea del Trastévere which, like other schools, accepted only fee-paying students. In 1597, he converted it into a school offering education free of charge to the children of the poor. The establishment of the first Pious school marked the start of Calasanz’s prodigious educational career.

Just as Calasanz was discovering his powerful calling for teaching, he was offered a postas can on in the cathedral of Seville. Whereas before, this offer would have been the fulfilment of all his hopes, now it was too late. He had found his true path: ‘In Rome I discovered the best way to serve God—by helping these poor children. Nothing in the world could bring meto change my course’.8

Educational work

Several aspects of Calasanz’s work as an educator are particularly noteworthy. First, as recognized by such students of his work as Ludovico Von Pastor,Geörgy Santha 10 and Severino Giner,11 Calasanz was the founder of the first free public school in modern Europe. From its foundation four centuries ago, this type of school has continued to exist until the present day. It was a revolutionary initiative, a radical break with the class privileges that kept the masses marginalized and in poverty. In the history of education, Joseph Calasanz is the great educator of the poor, offering education free of charge to all classes of society, without discrimination. He remained dedicated to those principles throughout his life. There are manyexamples of the constant vigilance he exercized over his schools in that regard: ‘Pupils shall under no circumstances be required to pay for equipment, school desks or other items.’12 ‘Teachers are instructed not to request anything of the students.’13 ‘I must advise you that a serious error and negligence has been observed in the schools: buying and selling.’14

Secondly, in his strict application of Christian principles, Calasanz also taught that discrimination, whether based on social class, race or religion, was wrong. He displayed the same moral courage, as will be seen later, in his attitude to victims of the Inquisition, such as Galileo and Campanella, and in the acceptance of Jewish children in his schools, where they were treated with the same respect as other pupils. For those times, this was outstanding.15 Similarly, Protestant pupils were enrolled in his schools in Germany.16 So great and universal was Calasanz’s prestige that he was even asked by the Turkish Empire to set up schools there, a request which he could not, to his regret, fulfil, due to a lack of teachers. The sole merits recognized in Calasanz’s schools were those of study and virtue.

Thirdly, Calasanz founded, organized and systematized a method of educating primary school pupils through progressive levels or cycles; a system of vocational training; and a system of public secondary education. There could be as many as 1,500 students in one of his schools, making them very different from the other local schools in Rome and elsewhere, which usually had only one teacher. Because of their size, his schools required very detailed and comprehensive organization, and the system of levels and cycles of education played a very important role. In that regard Bau has pointed out: ‘The Pious Schools, in particular San Pantaleón in Rome, were at once primary schools, middle schools that trained pupils without career aspirations in the mathematical and writing skills needed for work in offices and shops,and high schools that offered studies in Latin and the humanities’.17

School organization

Although classes were sometimes provided for the very young, children usually began school at the age of 6, moving through a succession of nine grades in descending order. Thus, in the ninth grade, children were taught in groups to recognize syllables presented to them on large charts. Reading skills were perfected in the eighth grade: the children read out loud individually to the teacher and corrected each other. Classes were held for two-and-a-half hours mornings and afternoons. A general examination was conducted every four months in all the schools. Students who passed the examination were promoted to the next grade.

Calasanz recommended a maximum of fifty pupils in each class. Nevertheless, class size sometimes reached sixty. To encourage competition, the students were divided into two groups which competed with each other for the best grades.

In an era when no one else was interested in public education, Calasanz managed to setup schools with a highly complex structure. For instance, for the school year 1623/24, theschool of San Pantaleón had a staff of thirty-seven, including teachers, supervisors, administrative personnel, nurses and cooks.

Calasanz was concerned with physical education and hygiene. He addressed the subject in various documents and requested school directors to monitor children’s health. He made every effort to ensure that the water used in his schools was pure and made sure that the classrooms were whitewashed every year. He insisted on the highest standards of cleanliness in all the auxiliary buildings and especially the washrooms. In many ways, Calasanz anticipatedour own times, since he also established complementary facilities including dining halls, cloakrooms and dormitories. He saw to it that the students were provided with the necessary materials free of charge, including paper and ink.

Teachers had to keep three registers: enrolments, attendance and marks. They were required to prepare their lessons in advance and be at their posts before the students arrived.They accompanied the students to their homes after class. Calasanz himself carried out this task until he reached the age of 85.

Course content

Students were taught to read both in Latin and in the vernacular. While maintaining the study of Latin, Calasanz was a strong defender of vernacular languages, and had textbooks, including those used for teaching Latin, written in the vernacular. In that respect he was more advanced than his contemporaries. Comenius, for example, was considered a great advocate of vernacular languages, but wrote his own books in Latin.

By the sixth grade, pupils were already proficient at reading. In the fifth grade, they were divided into two groups: those who planned to take up a trade studied mathematics, while those who planned to pursue their studies in the humanities learned grammar. Students in both groups took classes together in writing, where penmanship was stressed.

Calasanz placed great emphasis on the teaching of mathematics. Here, as in many other matters, he was a major innovator who foresaw future trends. Training in mathematics and science was considered very important in the Pious schools, both for pupils and teachers. The educator’s preoccupation with this subject occurs constantly in his writing: ‘You must perfecty ourself as much as possible in mathematics, a very useful subject’ (letter to Morelli dated 31March 1635).18 ‘With regard to the arithmetic division, if anyone demonstrates an aptitude for that subject, encourage him on my behalf and be yourself the first to learn the material’ (letter to Bianchi dated 20 July 1634).19

The Pious schools never ceased to emphasize the importance of mathematics and science, and references to those subjects can be traced over the centuries. In Spain, for example, a country without a strong scientific tradition, the education provided by the Pious schools in the fields of mathematics and science was very highly regarded. Mariano Cardedera, a Spanish educator of the mid-nineteenth century, noted: ‘Under the guidance of the Piarists, the boarding-school students study mathematics, physics, chemistry and natural history […] In the daytime, the students assiduously study the exact and natural sciences.’20

The great interest taken by Calasanz in those subjects contrasted with the general lack of concern for them during that period in Europe.

Primary school ended with the fifth grade. In the next four grades, the student scompleted a humanities curriculum that, in Rome, included studies at the Jesuits’ Roman College.

But Calasanz’s 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. Calasanz created an ideal image of a Christian teacher and used it to train the more than 500 teachers who worked with him duringhis lifetime.


Calasanz 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 St 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 favoured the mildest punishment possible. While believing that punishment was necessary in certain cases, he always preachedmoderation, love and kindness as the basis of any discipline. ‘We must punish with great compassion for that is part of our name and the charity in which believe’ (20 June 1624).21 ‘I wish to remind you that punishment should be used with discretion. The children should betreated with great kindness’ (18 December 1626).22 ‘In punishing the children, be kind rather than severe’ (10 October 1643).23

Discipline had to be based on firmness and kindness, its main aim being to prevent bad behaviour. If instances of bad behaviour occurred, the main concern should be to avoid at houghtless reaction and, when the time came to take action, to impose discipline in a way that ensured that the pupil’s behaviour would improve.

Calasanz and Galileo

Knowledge of Calasanz’s relationship with one of his great scientific contemporaries, Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) is essential for a proper appreciation of his personality. They were of roughly the same age and both had to live through very trying situations.

These two great men of education and science knew each other, met each other and had a great respect for each other. In fact, they had much in common. First, both advocated the teaching of mathematics and science, which, although it was to be expected of a man of science, was less usual in educators of that period. Analysis of Calasanz’s educational work reveals a constant and most unusual interest in the teaching of mathematics. At a time when humanistic studies ruled the roost, Calasanz, without neglecting the humanities, sensed the importance of mathematics and science for the future and issued frequent instructions that mathematics and science should be taught in his schools, and that his teachers should have afirm grounding in those subjects.

With regard to Galileo and mathematics, it should be recalled that some distinguished Piarists were fervent disciples of the great scientist and shared and defended his controversial, indeed revolutionary, view of the cosmos. The Galilean model of the cosmos, which was based on the thinking of Copernicus and Kepler, called into question the Ptolemaic model which had been accepted throughout the Middle Ages. It attracted the interest of the Inquisition, whichtried him, condemned him and forced him to retract his theory.

When Galileo subsequently fell into disgrace, Calasanz instructed the members of his congregation to provide him with whatever assistance he needed and authorized the Piarists to continue studying mathematics and science with him. Their dignified and courageous support for Galileo does both Calasanz and the Piarists great credit, bearing witness to the tolerance of a great educationist.

Unfortunately, those opposed to Calasanz and his work used the support and assistance offered by the Piarists to Galileo as an excuse to attack them. The Piarist Francesco Michelini, who was to succeed Galileo in the chair of mathematics, was denounced before the Inquisitorof Florence in these terms:

Professor Francesco Michelini of the Pious schools believes and teaches publicly the doctrine that all things are composed of atoms and not of matter and form, as Aristotle and others have stated. He maintains also that the earth moves and that the sun is fixed, being so convinced of the truth of this doctrine and others of Mr Galileothat he rejects all other theories as false and invalid. He calls himself an opponent of Aristotle, whom he considers an ignoramus, regarding Mr Galileo as an oracle, lauding and extolling him as the wisest of men and attributing all kinds of other honours and distinctions to him.24

Despite such attacks, the Piarists continued to support Galileo and remained his fervent disciples. Calasanz had a great admiration for Galileo and held him in high regard: when, in1637, the great man of science, already elderly, lost his sight completely, Calasanz ordered the Piarist Clemente Settimi to serve as his secretary. Calasanz’s instructions to the rector of the College of Florence were clear: ‘[…] and if Mr Galileo should ever request that ProfessorClemente Settimi remain with him overnight, please allow him to do so, and, God willing, hewill use the opportunity as he should.’25

In Florence the Piarists had been placed in charge of a prestigious Advanced School of Mathematics, which played an important role in training the Pious school teachers. Piarists who had been students of Galileo were also appointed heads of major mathematics teaching institutions in Rome, Genoa, Naples and Podoliniec (Poland). Many of the teachers and students in those schools became outstanding scientists.

Campanella’s apology

Calasanz brought the same understanding and sympathy he had shown to Galileo to his friendship with the great philosopher Tommaso Campanella (1558–1639). Campanella was one of the most profound and fertile minds of his time, producing philosophical works such as Metafisica [Metaphysics], Utopian works such as La città del sole [The city of the Sun], and political works such as La monarchia di Spagna [The Spanish monarchy].

Campanella was also tried several times by the Inquisition and was incarcerated in Naples for more than twenty years. He was a friend of Galileo, with whom he kept up a prolific correspondence, and defended him against the attacks of his enemies in a tract entitled Apologia pro Galileo [Apology for Galileo]. Despite the fact that he was a highly controversial figure in his time, Campanella too maintained a strong and fruitful friendship with Calasanz. The philosopher whose Utopian visions proposed social reforms in which the education of them asses played an important part must have been a kindred spirit for Calasanz, who was already putting these Utopian ideas into practice in his work. The theorist and the empiricist, the thinker and the doer, shared the same educational objectives.

Calasanz, with his customary courage and open-mindedness, invited the controversialthinker to Frascatai to help teach philosophy to his teachers. Although brief, the collaborationmust have had some impact.

It is not surprising, then, that Campanella, who had rallied to the support of Galileo, also came to the defence of his friend Calasanz. The Pious schools were up against powerful enemies and detractors and, for half a century, Calasanz was subjected to severe internal and external pressures which in the end resulted in a brief period of imprisonment by the Inquisition and, later on, in his destitution as leader of the congregation he had founded. The order itselfwas demoted and seemed in danger of disappearing completely. The Pious schools needed constant assistance and support in order to survive and the Liber apolgeticus [The apology] written by Campanella in their defence was a very significant response to that need. In this work, the philosopher drew attention to the innovative and advanced nature of the work done by Calasanz and systematically refuted all the accusations levelled against the Pious schools. To those who cited Aristotelian doctrine in support of keeping the people in ignorance and attacked Calasanz for teaching science to the poor, on the grounds that this would disturb the peace of the republic, he replied:

Science is the perfection of the soul and of the human race. Therefore, the more widely science is disseminated, the more minds it will improve and harmonize. Aristotle himself, in Book Five of his Politica, writes that those who wish to keep the people ignorant so that they can do evil with impunity and without being criticized are tyrants. Depravity in the workers is due to ignorance.26

The Apology consisted of a preface and two chapters, the first for the lay readership and the second for the religious community. Both chapters set out the accusations against the Pious schools and the corresponding refutations. The book was an enthusiastic defence of the work of Calasanz.

International influence

Any attempt to accord the Pious schools their rightful place in the history of education would be incomplete without reference to the expansion of the system in countries around the world.

But most important of all is the influence—direct and indirect—of Calasanz’s work and thought, which led to the subsequent establishment of many other congregations similar to his own. There are eleven religious teaching orders now in existence that were based on Calasanz’s ideas. These are, in a sense, branches growing directly from the trunk formed by Calasanz’s educational work. Also worthy of mention is the direct influence that Calasanz hadon other great educators, such as St Jean-Baptiste de la Salle in the eighteenth century, and St John Bosco, his great admirer, in the nineteenth century. In addition to his influence on similar institutions that were set up after his time, Calasanz’s schools served as the model for State public school systems in some European countries.

The Pious schools, with their thousands of students, have educated some of the most important figures of this century, including a number of Nobel Prize winners. In Spain, four Nobel Prize winners—Cajal, Benavente, Aleixandre and Cela—were educated in Pious schools. This is the heritage that the great educator has left to his native country.

An educational commemorationOn the occasion of the four hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the first Pious School,it is historical justice to remind ourselves of the life and work of its founder. The seed that he planted at Santa Dorotea del Trastévere 400 years ago has grown and borne fruit, producing seeds that have been scattered throughout the world. Today there are Pious Schools in twentysix countries on four continents and the doctrine of free and universal education advocated by those schools is accepted as the basis of nearly every education system. The Pious schools have served as a model for many other religious teaching orders which, whether directly or indirectly, have drawn inspiration from the work of Calasanz. With its centuries of experience, its geographical coverage and influence, the educational mission launched by Calasanz is one of the most vital and productive the world has seen. Many of the innovations he brought to teaching and school organization are still valid today.

Calasanz had great breadth of vision and the ability to see far ahead in time. He had avery accurate sense of the social and scientific developments of the future and acted accordingly. While other educators and thinkers spent their time describing Utopias that were unattainable in practice, Calasanz had the courage, energy and skill to realize his own Utopia. His pedagogical achievement is comparable to that of Comenius, the other great educator ofthat century. But, while Comenius’ strong point was theory, Calasanz’s achievements were practical achievements. He was, above all, the educator in action.

It thus seems a pity that, although histories of education recognize the contribution ofComenius, Calasanz’s importance continues to be overlooked in modern studies of education.It is to be hoped that this commemorative text will go some way to rectifying this injustice.


1. Josep Domènech i Mira (Spain) Doctorate in education. Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Catalan philology from the University of Barcelona. School inspector. Superintendent of Education in Lleida (Catalonia) from 1976 to 1994. Former member of the evaluation commission and current member of the technical commission of the Department of Education of Catalonia. Co-ordinated and taught education courses for teachers at the University for Distance Education. Author of various publications and researcher in the area of comparative education.

2. S. Giner, San José de Calasanz, Maestro y fundador [St Joseph Calasanz, teacher and founder], Madrid, Biblioteca de autores cristianos, 1992, p. 40.

3. C. Bau, San José de Calsanz [St Joseph Calasanz], Salamanca, Publicaciones de Revista Calasancia,1967, p. 47.

4. Ibid., p. 254.- 10 -10

5. Quoted in G. Santha, San José de Calasanz : su obra y escritos [St Joseph Calasanz: his work and writings], Madrid, Biblioteca de autores cristianos, 1956, p. 30.

6. Santha, op. cit., p. 36.

7. Ibid., p. 57.

8. Quoted in Giner, op. cit., p. 417.

9. Giner, op. cit., p. 659.

10. Santha, op. cit., p. 55.

11. Giner, op. cit., p. 160.

12. Lodegario Picanyol, Epistolario de San Giuseppe Calasanzio [Collected letters of Saint JosephCalasanz], vol. VI, p. 252, letter 2,738, Rome, Editiones Calasanctianae, 1954.

13. Ibid., vol. VII, p. 95, letter 3,118.

14. Ibid., vol. VII, p. 157, letter 3,208.

15. Giner, op. cit., p. 595.

16. Ibid.

17. Bau, op. cit., p. 165.

18. Picanyol, op. cit., vol. VI, p. 15, letter 2,358.

19. Ibid., vol. VII, p. 397, letter 3,672.

20. M. Carderera, Diccionario de educación y métodos de enseñanza [Dictionary of education and teaching methods], p. 285, Madrid, Imprenta A. Vicente, 1855.

21. Picanyol, op. cit., vol. II, p. 238, letter 224.

22. Ibid., vol. III. p. 68, letter 566.

23. Ibid., vol. VIII, p. 211, letter 4,138.

24. Quoted in Bau, op. cit., p. 298.

25. Picanyol, op. cit., vol. VII, p. 65, letter 3,074. The original text in Italian is as follows: ‘Et se per caso il Sig. Galileo dimandase, che qualche notte restasse lá il P. Clemente, V.R. glielo permetta e Dio voglia, che en sappia cavare il profitto che doveria.’

26. Tomas Campanella, Apología de las Escuelas Pías [Apology for the Pious Schools], quoted in:Santha,op. cit., p. 726.


Asiaín, M.A. El año con Calasanz [The year with Calasanz]. Salamanca, I.C.C.E., 1991. 751 p. [An annotatedselection of approximately 1,500 brief texts by Calasanz.]

Bau, C. San José de Calasanz. Salamanca, Publicaciones de Revista Calasancia, 1967. 419 p.

Campanella, T. Libro apologético contra los impugnadores de las Escuelas Pias [An apologia against opponentsof the Pious Schools]. In: Santha, G., ed. San José de Calasanz, Madrid, Biblioteca de autores cristianos,1956.

Canata, A. Educador católico [The Catholic educator]. Barcelona, Ediciones Gala Calasancia, 1943. 377 p.

Cueva, D. Calasanz mensaje espiritual y pedagógico [Calasanz: a spiritual and educational message]. Madrid, Publicaciones I.C.C.E., 1973. 380 p. [A selection of Calasanz’s thoughts grouped under subjectheadings.]

——. Congregaciones afines [Related congregations]. In: Giner, S., et al., eds. Escuelas Pias: ser e historia. Salamanca, Ediciones calasancias, 1978.

Flaubel Zapata, V. Antología Pedagógica Calasancia [Calasanz’s educational works: an anthology]. Salamanca, Publicaciones de la Universidad Pontificia, 1988. 180 p. [A selection of educational documents and texts by Calasanz grouped under subject headings.]

——. Escolapios memorables por su santidadEscolapios peritos en ciencias eclesiásticas. De las ciencias alarte de educar. Ex alumnos célebres de las Escuelas Pías [Saintly Piarists. Piarists learned inecclesiastical sciences. From the sciences to the art of education. Famous former students of the PiousSchools]. In: Giner, S., et al., eds. Escuelas Pias : ser e historia. Salamanca, Ediciones calasancias,1978. 410 p.Giner, S., et al., eds. Escuelas Pias: ser e historia [The pious schools: present and past]. Salamanca, Edicione scalasancias, 1978. 410 p.

Giner Guerri, S. San José de Calasanz : maestro y fundador [Saint Joseph Calasanz: teacher and founder]. Madrid, Biblioteca de autores cristianos, 1992. 1,122 p.

——. San José de Calasanz [Saint Joseph Calasanz]. Madrid, biblioteca de autores cristianos, 1985. 271 p.

——. La vocación escolapia. Síntesis cronológicas, estadísticas y mapas históricos. Bibliografía y biógrafos de San José de Calasanz. Obispos escolapios [The Piarist vocation. Chronologies, statistics and historical maps. Bibliography and bioigraphies of Saint Joseph Calasanz. Piarist bishops]. In: Giner, S., et al.,eds., op. cit.- 11 -11

Lesaga, J.M.; Asiaín, M.A.; Lecea, J.M. Documentos fundacionales de las Escuelas Pias [Basic documents of the Piarist Schools]. Salamanca, Ediciones calasancias, 1979. 306 p. [Contains eight very important documents relating to the institutions established, including the constitutions and petitions written by Calasanz to Cardinal Tonti and Cardinal Roma.]

López, S. Documentos de San José de Calasanz [Documents of Saint Joseph Calasanz]. Bogotá. Editorial calasancia latinoamericana, 1988. 416 p. [An annotated collection of 107 documents by Saint JosephCalasanz, crucial for any study of the work and philosophy of the great educator.]

Picanyol, L. Epistolario di San Giuseppe Calasanzio [Collected letters of Saint Joseph Calasanz]. Rome, Editorial Calasanctiannae, 1950. 9 vols. [Contains 5,000 letters from Calasanz with commentaries. An essential work for any study of the educator’s philosophy and work.]

Poch, J. Un documento inédito de los orígenes de las Escuelas Pias en España [An unpublished text on the origins of the Pious schools in Spain]. Madrid, Analeta Calasantiana, 1959.

——. El fundador de las Escuelas Pías en la historia eclesiástica de la Corona de Aragón [The founder of thePious schools in the ecclesiastical history of the Kingdom of Aragon]. Madrid, Analeta Calasantiana,1968.

Santha, G. San José de Calasanz : su obra. Escritos [Saint Joseph Calasanz: his work and writings]. Madrid, Biblioteca de autores cristianos, 1956. 827 p. [The text includes a collection of documents and letters by Calasanz.]

——. La fidelidad a Calasanz [Keeping faith with Calasanz]. Salamanca, Ediciones Calasancias, 1982. Vilá, C. Epistolario de San Giuseppe Calasanzio [Collected letters of Saint Joseph Calasanz], vol. X. Rome, Editiones Calasanctiannae, 1988. [Continuation of the nine-volume work by Lodegario Picanyol citedabove.]

——. 1978. Síntesis de la historia de la Orden de las Escuelas Pías. Descripción de las provincias de la Orden. Pedagogía calasanciana. Escuela Pía Contemeporánea [Brief history of the Order of the Pious Schools. Provinces of the Order. The educational theory of Calasanz. Contemporary Piarist Schools]. In: Giner,S., et al., op. cit.

Copyright notice

This text was originally published in PROSPECTS: the quarterly review of comparative education (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), vol. XXVII, no. 2, June 1998,p. 327-39.

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