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Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844)

The Institute of Christian Brothers was founded at Waterford in 1802 by Edmund Ignatius Rice, merchant. Branches of the order were soon established in Dublin, Cork, and other towns, especially in the south of Ireland. The institute was formally approved as a congregation by Pius VII. in 1820, and since then has received many favours from succeeding pontiffs. It is governed by a superior-general, who resides at the head house in Rome.

For a time the Brothers accepted a government grant under the National Board of Education, established in 1832, but soon withdrew from this connection on account of the separation of religious and secular teaching insisted on by the National Board as a fundamental condition of receiving any share of the grant at its disposal. Since then the Brothers’ schools have been fiercely independent, often relying on the voluntary contributions of the people. Their system of teaching has met with the warm approval of successive royal commissions, appointed to inquire into the state of education around the world.

From the humble beginning of his work in the New Street stable the mission of Edmund Rice has spread to 25 countries. His Brothers now numbering around 3,000, working with 7,000 other teachers, instruct 212,000 boys in around 560 schools.

The Brothers also conduct orphanages and schools for the poor, primary and secondary level schools, university colleges and colleges of education, schools for the deaf and for the blind, technical schools and agricultural colleges.

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