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August 25

St Joseph Calasanz - August 25

Saint Joseph Calasanz (or Joseph Calasanctius)
Priest,
Founder of Piarist Order
(1557 – 1648)

“Everyone knows the great merit and dignity attached to that holy ministry in which young boys, especially the poor, receive instruction for the purpose of attaining eternal life … all who undertake to teach must be endowed with deep love, the greatest of patience, and, most of all profound humility.”

Saint John Fisher

His Early Life

Joseph was born on September 11, 1556, in his family’s castle near Peralta de la Sal, Aragon, Spain to Don Pedro Calasanz and Donna Maria Gastonia. His mother and a brother died while he was still in school. Joseph studied at Estadilla, at the University of Lereda, at the University of Valencia, and at the at the Complutense University located in Alcala de Henares, obtaining degrees in canon law and theology.

His father wanted the Joseph to become a soldier, to marry, and to continue the family. However, a near fatal illness in 1582 caused Joseph to seriously examine his life. Then, he realized a call to the religious life.

Ordained Priest

On December 17, 1583, Joseph was ordained and served as a parish priest in Albarracin, Spain. He also worked as the secretary and confessor to his bishop, as well as a synodal examiner and procurator. Joseph played a significant role in reviving religious zeal among the laity and discipline among the clergy in a region of the Pyrenees.

In 1587, both his bishop and his father passed away. Later, Joseph became the vicar-general of Trempe, Spain. In 1592, following a vision, he gave away a significant portion of his inheritance and renounced the rest.

Travelled to Rome

Then, Joseph traveled to Rome, Italy, where he worked in the household of Cardinal Ascanio Colonna as a theological advisor and tutor to the cardinal’s nephew. In 1595, Joseph selflessly assisted plague victims. During his time in Rome, Joseph became a member of the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine.

Nine years after being ordained a priest, he left for Rome, where walking through the poorest neighborhood of the city he was moved against the misery in which children and youth of the place lived. His vocation emerged in this framework. He heard the voice of the Lord, who told him: “Joseph, give yourself to the poor. Teach these children and care about them”.

He dedicated himself to helping poor children, many of whom were orphans or homeless, gain access to education. However, the existing teachers, who were already poorly paid, refused to teach the new students without a raise.

Undeterred, in November 1597, Joseph and two fellow priests opened a small, free school for these underprivileged children, thought to be the first free public school in Europe. Their work received support from Pope Clement VIII, and later Pope Paul V, both of whom contributed to their cause. Soon, Joseph found himself supervising several teachers and welcoming hundreds of students.

Founder of the Piarists

In 1602, due to the growth of their mission, Joseph and his colleagues moved to larger quarters and reorganized the teaching priests into a community. in 1621, this community, known as the Regular Poor Clerics of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools or the Piarists, was recognized as a religious order, with Joseph acting as its superior. The Piarists, as do many religious, profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In addition, according to the wishes of Joseph, members of the Order also profess a fourth vow to dedicate their lives to the education of youth.

However, the Piarists encountered numerous obstacles. Joseph’s friendship with the astronomer Galileo Galilei caused friction with some Church officials. Additionally, members of the ruling class expressed concerns that educating the poor would lead to social unrest. Other religious orders working with the poor feared being absorbed by the Piarists.
Despite these challenges, the Piarists continued to receive papal support and carry out their commendable work.

In his later years, Joseph faced the painful dissolution of his Order. He was accused of incompetence by Father Mario Sozzi, who was appointed as the new superior. After Sozzi’s death in 1643, Father Cherubini succeeded him and pursued a similar destructive path.

In 1645, a papal commission thoroughly examined the accusations against Joseph and exonerated him, reinstating him as the superior of the Order. However, internal dissent persisted.

In 1646, Pope Innocent X dissolved the Order, placing the Piarist priests under the control of their local bishops. Nevertheless, eight years after Joseph’s death on August 25, 1648, the Piarists were reorganized. They were officially restored as a religious order in 1669 and continue their important work to this day. Worldwide there are more than 1,400 Piarists serving in 32 countries.

His Death

Joseph always remained faithful to the Church and died August 25, 1648, at the age of 90, in Rome, Italy. He was admired for his holiness and courage by his students, their families, his fellow Piarists, and the people of Rome and was buried in the Church of San Pantaleo in Rome, Italy.

On August 13, 1948, Pope Pius XII declared him to be the “Universal Patron of all Christian schools in the world.”

Born :                   September 11, 1556 in Peralta de la Sal, Aragon, Spain

Died:                    August 25, 1648 in Rome, Italy

Beatified:            August 18, 1748 by Pope Benedict XIV

Canonized:         July 16, 1767 by Pope Clement XIII

Feast Day:          August 25, formerly August 27

Patron Saint:     Catholic Schools; Colleges; Congregation of Christian Workers of Saint Joseph Calasanz; Schoolchildren; Schools for the Poor; Students; Universities

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Joseph Calasanz faced numerous challenges during his lifetime but remained unwavering in his mission to educate poor children. His life underscores the transformative power of education and its role in uplifting the poor and marginalized. His dedication to the education of poor children highlights the importance of serving the less fortunate.

How can you today, follow Saint Joseph Calasanz’s example, to seek ways to educate, support and uplift the marginalized in our own communities?

Prayers

Saint Joseph Calasanz,

You, who founded the Piarists, dedicating them to the education and spiritual formation of the young, we seek your intercession today.

Bless all educators and those who work with children and youth.

Grant them wisdom, patience, and a heart full of love. May they inspire and nurture the minds and souls of those they teach.

Help us to see the face of Christ in every child and to work tirelessly for their education, well-being and growth.

Saint Joseph Calasanz, pray for us, and, especially for our teachers and students. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – St. Joseph Calasanz

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 25 August – St Joseph Calasanz Sch.P. (1557-1648)

Butler’s Lives Of The Saints Complete Edition – St Joseph Calasanctius

Catholic Culture – St. Joseph Calasanz

Catholic Exchange – St. Joseph Calasanz e

Catholic Ireland – Aug 25 – St Joseph Calasanz (1557-1648) patron of Catholic schools

Catholic Online – St. Joseph Calasanctius

CatholicSaints.Info – Book of Saints – Joseph Calasanctius – by Monks of Ramsgate

Franciscan Media – Saint Joseph Calasanz

Independent Catholic News – St Joseph Calasanz

Loyola Press – Saint Joseph Calasanz Feast day August 25

Melanie Rigney – Joseph Calasanz

New Advent – Mershman, F. (1910). St. Joseph Calasanctius. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Piarist Fathers – Calasanz

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Joseph Calasanz’ Story

Salt and Light Media – Saint Joseph Calasanz: Teacher of Piety and Letters by Julian Paparella

Sanctoral – Saint Joseph Calasanctius Founder of the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools (Piarists) (1556-1648)

Video Link

St. Joseph Calasanz – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)