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JESUITICA: Free schools

crescoll_01When St Ignatius founded the Roman College in 1551, a sign on the door read: “A school of grammar, humanities and Christian doctrine. Gratis.” Jesuit education was the first systematic, widespread effort to provide large numbers of people with free schooling. Ignatius instructed his followers to give freely what they had freely received. Their colleges depended on sponsorship by the state or individuals, which provided the Jesuits with bed and board. In return they set up a college with no fees. In this particular respect, of the Irish Jesuit schools, Coláiste Iognáid, Crescent College Comprehensive and St Declan’s are more typically Ignatian than are Clongowes, Gonzaga or Belvedere. Pictured here is Crescent College on Christmas Day last year (taken by Liam O’Connell SJ).