Joseph Calasanz was born in Peralta de la Sal [Spain] on September 11, 1557. He
was the youngest of eight children [five girls and three boys] of Pedro Calasanz and Maria Gaston Sala, of a family belonging to
the lower ranks. He received a good education at home and then at the school
After completing his primary school in his hometown, he was sent to boarding
school in Estadilla to study Latin, Humanities and Rhetoric. As soon as he completed his classical studies at Estadilla he
took up philosophy and canon law at Lerida and merited the degree of Doctor of Laws, and then
with honors completed his Theological course at Valencia and Alcala de Henares. Later, Calasanz received his Doctorate in Theology in Barcelona.
His decision to become a priest, in the beginning, was quit hard because his
father Pedro wanted him to marry and perpetuate the family. God interfered a sickness, which soon brought Calasanz to the
brink of the grave. On his recovery, his father allowed him to receive the sacred Order. He was ordained priest on December
17, 1583, in Sanahuja [Catalan Region] by Bishop Hugo Ambrose de Moncada, Ordinary
Calasanz began his labor as priest as secretary, confessor and examiner to
some Bishops, chapter secretary, master of ceremonies at the cathedral, chief of staff of the Bishop, parish priest, archpriest,
diocesan reformer and procurator with faculties as vicar-general.
A few years after serving to some dioceses in Spain,
he embarked for Rome ,
seeking to know himself better and also to improve his economic situation. Instead, he found God in the poor and abandoned
boys of Trastevere. In a letter he writes:
I have found in Rome
the definitive way to serve God in the children and youth, and I will never leave it for anything in the world."
In 1597 at the Church of St. Dorothy, he began the first free school in Europe. Pope Clement
the VIII gave an annual contribution and many others shared the good work, so that in a short time Calasanz had about a thousand
children under his charge. He devoted himself for the neglected children for the rest of his life in the education of piety
and learning. This is his unique contribution to the reform of the Church and the Society of his time.
To assure continuity to his work, he founded The Order of the Pious Schools
(Ordinis Scholarum Piarum), a Religious Order of Priests and Brothers, under the motto of Piety and Learning. However, much
envy and opposition arose against him, to his school and to his new institute, but all were overcome in time.
He died in Rome,
a faithful son of the Church and a true friend of forsaken children in the House of Saint Pantaleo, in 1648. His beatification
was solemnized on August 7, 1748. He was canonized on July 16, 1767 by Pope Clement VIII. With God's grace Pope Pius XII proclaimed
the Universal Patron of All Catholic Schools in 1948.
His liturgical feast is celebrated every August 25. In Calasanzian Centers
the feast is also celebrated on November 27.