earned his doctorate in 1592 when he was 35 years old. It was with great courage and determination that he then boarded a
ship bound for Rome. There he would solicit a prestigious canonry in order to advance his priestly career. However, the Holy
Spirit and other ideas.
went to Rome looking for advancement but instead found a radical conversion, and he descended as fas as the strength of his
Spirit would take him.
"I have not only washed plates and worked as a member of the lower-class
- he would say at the end of his life - but i have also begged for bread with my knapsack on my shoulders around Rome. I have
accompanied the students, and I am ready to do it again now. At the beginning of the school day, I used to do all the vilest
and basest tasks of the house. Later on, Brothers came and helped me. Although I am now over 80 years old, I still go many
times to help out in one classroom or another"
is recorder in over 5,000 letters we have from him, he exercised his priestly ministry as a confessor of adults and children,
as a preacher, as a catechist, and as a spiritual director of lay people and religious, both outside and inside the Order.
by the moral and physical degradation of large numbers of Roman children, Calasanz established in 1597 at the Church
of Santa Dorotea of Trastevere the first Pious School, which was the first tuition free public school in modern Europe. In
1617, Pope Paul V created the order of the Pious Schools, the first religious congregation dedicated to teaching. For the
next fifteen years, Calsanz directly exercised his educational ministry. At his "Pious Schools" grew, he was appointed Prefect
of Discipline and later Superior General of the Order. Yet, despite the burden of governing religious, houses, and schools
that weighed heavily upon his heart and shoulders, he still exercised his priesthood.
"Because of necessity, I have been teaching calligraphy, arithmetic, reading and
grammar classes, when the occasion arises because of the sickness of some of our teachers or because of some other incident.
And because of that, I have not lost anything of my priestly dignity, nor reputation as Father General."