Christianity has contributed the most in education to society. The church is the largest single contributor to education in the world, and in some of the poorest countries. There is no close second contributor. From preschools through colleges and universities, the Church has provided  the institutions, the buildings and the teachers.

"All knowledge is sterile which does not lead to action and end in charity." - Cardinal Desire Joseph Mercier


CATHOLIC - Education-








Ursuline Academy

Ursuline Academy is a private, Roman Catholic, all-girls high school and elementary school (Toddler 2 through 12th grade) in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It is located within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and under the trusteeship of the Ursuline Sisters of the New Orleans Community, part of the Ursuline Central Province of North America. Founded in 1727, the Academy is the oldest Catholic school and the oldest school for females in the United States.


1600'S Early America
Residents of the Upper South, centered on the Chesapeake Bay, created some basic schools early in the colonial period. 

In late 17th century Maryland, the Catholic Jesuits operated some schools for Catholic students.

Generally the planter class hired tutors for the education of their children or sent them to private schools. During the colonial years, some sent their sons to England or Scotland for schooling.

Education for Women
The earliest continually operating school for girls in the United States is the Catholic Ursuline Academy in New Orleans. It was founded in 1727 by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula. 

The Academy graduated the first female pharmacist. 

The first convent established in the United States supported the Academy. This was the first free school and first retreat center for young women. It was the first school to teach free women of color, Native Americans, and female African-American slaves. 

In the region, Ursuline provided the first center of social welfare in the Mississippi Valley; and it was the first boarding school for girls in Louisiana, and the first school of music in New Orleans.

Following waves of German Catholic immigration after the 1848 revolutions, and after the end of the Civil War, both Catholics and Missouri Synod Lutherans began to set up their own German-language parochial schools, especially in cities of heavy German immigration: such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee, as well as rural areas heavily settled by Germans.

The Amish, a small religious sect speaking German, are opposed to schooling past the elementary level. They see it as unnecessary, as dangerous to preservation of their faith, and as beyond the purview of government.

Religion and schools
As the nation was majority Protestant in the 19th century, most states passed a constitutional amendment, called Blaine Amendments, forbidding tax money be used to fund parochial schools. 

This was largely directed against Catholics, as the heavy immigration from Catholic Ireland after the 1840s aroused nativist sentiment. There were longstanding tensions between Catholic and Protestant believers, long associated with nation states that had established religions. Many Protestants believed that Catholic children should be educated in public schools in order to become American. 

By 1890 the Irish, who as the first major Catholic immigrant group controlled the Church hierarchy in the U.S., had built an extensive network of parishes and parish schools ("parochial schools") across the urban Northeast and Midwest. 

The Irish and other Catholic ethnic groups intended parochial schools not only to protect their religion, but to enhance their culture and language.

Catholics and German Lutherans, as well as Dutch Protestants, organized and funded their own elementary schools. 

Catholic communities also raised money to build colleges and seminaries to train teachers and religious leaders to head their churches.

In the 19th century, most Catholics were Irish or German immigrants and their children; in the 1890s new waves of Catholic immigrants began arriving from Italy and Poland.

The parochial schools met some opposition, as in the Bennett Law in Wisconsin in 1890, but they thrived and grew. Catholic nuns served as teachers in most schools and were paid low salaries in keeping with their vows of poverty.

In 1925 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters that students could attend private schools to comply with state compulsory education laws, thus giving parochial schools an official blessing.










Michele or Michael Ruggieri (1543 – 11 May 1607),  born Pompilio Ruggieri and known in China as Luo Mingjian, was an Italian Jesuit priest and missionary. A founding father of the Jesuit China missions, co-author of the first European–Chinese dictionary, and first European translator of the Four Books of Confucianism, he has been described as the first European sinologist.

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St. Jerome

"Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." 









St. Jerome in His Study(1480), by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

St. Jerome – (Fourth Century Doctor of the Church)  27 March 347 – 30 September 420 AD)  was a Christian priest, confessor, theologian, and historian. He was born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia.

Jerome translated the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew and Greek. (The translation  became known as the Vulgate), and he wrote commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive.

The protégé of Pope Damasus I, who died in December of 384, Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome. In many cases, he focused his attention on the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life. 

Jerome is recognized as a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.[7] His feast day is 30 September.

In or around the year 366, Jerome decided to become a Christian and was baptized by Pope Liberius.

Pope Damasus died in 384, and this exposed Jerome to criticism and controversy. Jerome was a sarcastic man of great wit. He became unpopular because of his attitude and made a number of enemies. While Pope Damasus was alive, he could shield Jerome from criticism, but now Jerome faced the vengeance of the enemies he made. Both prominent pagans who resented his promotion of the faith and fellow Christians who lacked his wit attacked him with vicious rumors.

Jerome was a hard worker and he wrote extensively defending the virginity of Mary, which some clerics dared to question. 

St Jerome and the Lion


One day, as Jerome was sitting in his cell with the other monks, a lion walked through the open door. The others quickly ran toward the window and clambered outside. But Jerome sat quietly, watching the stately lion as he walked to him.

When the creature was close, he suddenly held up his paw.

Jerome took the paw in his hand and studied the lion's eyes -- they were full of sorrow and pain. He noticed the pad was swollen, so he carefully examined the paw until he found a thorn stuck near a nail. He slowly removed it. Then he boiled water with healing herbs. With this potion, he bathed the lion's paw until the swelling subsided.

Afterward, he wrapped a linen cloth around the paw so the wound would not get dirty. When he was done, the lion sighed with gratitude, and Jerome's heart swelled with joy. He waited for the lion to depart. Instead, the creature stretched out on the floor and fell fast asleep.

After a while, Jerome lay down beside him and slept.

When they woke, Jerome said to the lion, "I see you plan to stay here with me." The lion wagged his tail.
"Well, then," Jerome said, "you must understand that everyone who lives here has to work, so I shall give you a job."

Again the lion wagged his tail.

Jerome decided the lion must accompany the monastery's donkey down to the forest each day. There an old woodcutter loaded up the donkey's panniers with wood, and the donkey carried it back to the monastery. The lion was assigned to protect the donkey from robbers and wolves on her journey.

For many months the lion and the donkey walked together to the forest. There the lion lay down and watched as the woodsman heaped the donkey's panniers with wood until the donkey could carry no more. Sometimes the lion fell asleep, and when the donkey was loaded down, she brayed to wake him, and together they walked back to the monastery.

But one hot morning in late summer, the lion fell asleep as usual and did not hear two men creep up beside the woodsman and the donkey. They tied a cloth over the man's mouth and over the donkey's mouth, too. Then they drove them away to their caravan, wood and all.

When the lion woke, he noticed the sun was low and he wondered why the donkey had not woken him.


He looked around and saw no one there, and he thought she must have walked home alone. He searched for her footsteps and saw the footprints of three men instead. He then understood that the donkey had been stolen.

With a heavy heart, the lion walked home, going directly to Jerome's cell.

"What's wrong?" Jerome asked when the creature walked in.

The lion bowed, his tail between his legs, awaiting punishment.

When Jerome noticed the donkey had not returned, he and the other monks thought the lion must have eaten her. As punishment, the monks wished to banish the lion.


But Jerome refused. Instead, he put the panniers upon the lion's back. "From now on, you shall carry the wood from the forest," he said.

The lion sighed with gratitude, for he loved Jerome and the monastery, and he did not wish to leave.

Months passed.

One day, as the lion stood in the forest and the old man loaded him with wood, the caravan of thieves returned from Damascus, passing through Bethlehem on their way to Egypt.

The lion heard them before he saw them, and he turned to see the caravan coming toward him. But then, he nearly fainted with joy when he recognized his friend the donkey among them.

He leapt toward the caravan -- knocking the old man down. The wood flew in every direction. The caravan drivers were terrified when they saw a lion charging toward them. But before they could run away, the lion approached, growling, and managed to shepherd the whole caravan to the monastery.

Jerome was sitting in his cell reading when he saw the caravan coming, the lion in the lead. Puzzled, he walked outside. To his astonishment, he recognized his old donkey.

The merchants fell to their knees. "Oh, holy father," they said, "please ask this lion to spare our lives. We confess. We stole the donkey while her guardian was asleep. We will gladly return her if you let us go on our way."

Jerome smiled. "Go on your way," he said.

The very next day, the donkey and the lion, two old friends, walked into the forest together. Jerome and all the monks rejoiced. From that day and forever after, the lion remained a faithful friend to Jerome, seldom leaving his side.*

Further reading

  • Saint Jerome, Three biographies: Malchus, St. Hilarion and Paulus the First Hermit Authored by Saint Jerome, London, 2012. ISBN 978-1-78336-016-1

External links

Latin texts

Latin Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Biblia Sacra


English translations


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Public Libraries in Western Society

Christians have been responsible for developing libraries in Western society from the earliest times. This has had a great impact on learning and cultural development.

During the Late Antiquity and Middle Ages periods, there was no Rome of the kind that ruled the Mediterranean for centuries and spawned the culture that produced twenty-eight public libraries in the urbs Roma.[28] The empire had been divided then later re-united again under Constantine the Great who moved the capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD to the city of Byzantium which was renamed Constantinople.[29] 


The Roman intellectual culture that flourished in ancient times was undergoing a transformation as the academic world moved from laymen to Christian clergy.[30] As the West crumbled, books and libraries flourished and flowed east toward the Byzantine Empire.[31] There, four different types of libraries were established: imperial, patriarchal, monastic, and private.[32] Each had its own purpose and, as a result, their survival varied.

Christianity was a new force in Europe and many of the faithful saw Hellenistic culture as pagan. As such, many classical Greek works, written on scrolls, were left to decay as only Christian texts were thought fit for preservation in a codex, the progenitor of the modern book.[33] In the East, however, this was not the case as many of these classical Greek and Roman texts were copied.[34]

In Byzantium, much of this work devoted to preserving Hellenistic thought in codex form was performed in scriptoriums by monks.[35] While monastic library scriptoriums flourished throughout the East and West, the rules governing them were generally the same.[36] 

Barren and sun-lit rooms (because candles were a source of fire) were major features of the scriptorium that was both a model of production and monastic piety.[37] Monks scribbled away for hours a day, interrupted only by meals and prayers.[38] 


With such production, medieval monasteries began to accumulate large libraries. These libraries were devoted solely to the education of the monks and were seen as essential to their spiritual development.[39] Although most of these texts that were produced were Christian in nature, many monastic leaders saw common virtues in the Greek classics. As a result, many of these Greek works were copied, and thus saved, in monastic scriptoriums.[40]

At its height in the 5th century, the Imperial Library of Constantinople had 120,000 volumes and was the largest library in Europe.[47] A fire in 477 consumed the entire library but it was rebuilt only to be burned again in 726, 1204, and in 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks.[48]

Patriarchal libraries fared no better, and sometimes worse, than the Imperial Library. The Library of the Patriarchate of Constantinople was founded most likely during the reign of Constantine the Great in the 4th century.[49] As a theological library, it was known to have employed a library classification system.[50] It also served as a repository of several ecumenical councils such as the Council of NiceaCouncil of Ephesus, and the Council of Chalcedon. The library, which employed a librarian and assistants, may have been originally located in the Patriarch's official residence before it was moved to the Thomaites Triclinus in the 7th century. While much is not known about the actual library itself, it is known that many of its contents were subject to destruction as religious in-fighting ultimately resulted in book burnings.[51]

During this period, small private libraries existed. Many of these were owned by church members and the aristocracy.[52] Teachers also were known to have small personal libraries as well as wealthy bibliophiles who could afford the highly ornate books of the period.[53]

Thus, in the 6th century, at the close of the Classical period, the great libraries of the Mediterranean world remained those of Constantinople and AlexandriaCassiodorus, minister to Theodoric, established a monastery at Vivarium in the toe of Italy (modern Calabria) with a library where he attempted to bring Greek learning to Latin readers and preserve texts both sacred and secular for future generations. As its unofficial librarian, Cassiodorus not only collected as many manuscripts as he could, he also wrote treatises aimed at instructing his monks in the proper uses of reading and methods for copying texts accurately. In the end, however, the library at Vivarium was dispersed and lost within a century.

Through Origen and especially the scholarly presbyter Pamphilus of Caesarea, an avid collector of books of Scripture, the theological school of Caesarea won a reputation for having the most extensive ecclesiastical library of the time, containing more than 30,000 manuscripts: Gregory NazianzusBasil the GreatJerome and others came and studied there.

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