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The following is a timeline of important events from the historical setting and in the life of Edmund Rice.
Edmund Rice's grandfather, also named Edmund, bequeathed his land in Westcourt, Callan to his son Robert (Edmund's father).
Robert Rice married Margaret Murphy (nee Tierney) a widow with two daughters, Jane and Joan.
Edmund Rice was born in Westcourt, Callan, Co. Kilkenny on 1st of June.
Educated initially "under his parents' roof", as a child he attended a local hedge school in Callan. Later he was educated in part by the Augustinian Friar Patrick Grace. Aged about 15, he went to the local city, Kilkenny, to continue his education.
When he was about 17 he moved to Waterford to begins an apprenticeship with his uncle, Michael Rice, who was a victualler and ship's chandler in that city.
1778 and 1782
Gardiner's First and Second Relief Acts removed legal restrictions on Catholic worship and clergy, Catholic holding of land, and the 1782 Act allowed for the establishment of licenced Catholic schools
"When he was about 23 years of age" Edmund married Mary Elliott..
Robert Rice, his father, died and Edmund was the executor of his father's will.
Edmund's wife died at Ballybricken while giving birth to a "delicate" daughter, also named Mary. She was born prematurely and was handicapped.
Edmund moved to 3 Arundel Place to be nearer his business and be able to take care of his young daughter.
Around the same time he joined a group of young Catholic men who gathered for prayer and outreach to the poor.
Edmund subscribed to buy a copy of the new McMahon edition of the Douay Bible which was being printed. A year later he noted 11 Scripture references on the flyleaf of his bible.
Edmund's brother John decided to join the Augustinian Friars in New Ross. Edmund encouraged him and sponsored him. The next year John went to the novitiate in Rome.
Several important events happened in Edmund's life around this time and he began to dream of ways of helping the poor through education:
- He shared a hotel room with a friar and began to think of his own vocation, possibly as a Augustinian friar like his brother John
- He was encouraged by a female friend to do something for the poor boys on the quays of Waterford city that he was bumping into every day as he went about his business
- He consulted with Bishop Lanigan of Kilkenny who encouraged him saying that "the idea proceeded from God" and he decided to dedicate his life to the education of the poor of Waterford
- He was one of the people who founded The Distressed Roomkeepers Society for poor servants in Waterford.
- He continued to deepen his spiritual life and bought a copy of The Spiritual Combat by Scupoli.
He still had to take care of his daughter and in 1795 his uncle Michael died and left him in charge of the family business.
Soon after the death in April of his friend, the poet Tadhg Gaelach O'Súilleabháin, came the death of his younger brother, Michael, and of his uncle Michael Rice. Edmund inherited his uncle's extensive business.
Edmund wrote to Pope Pius VI about his "design" and the Pope encouraged him to proceed with it
Three of Nano Nagle's Presentation Sisters arrived in Waterford. Edmund assists the sisters in establishing a convent, leasing land on Henessy's Road for their convent and organising public collections to raise funds for the new building.
Later the same year, with Dean Hearn and others, he founded the Trinitarian Orphan Society in the Congreve mansion near New Street.
This was Edmund's most successful year in business because of a wartime boom. Edmund began teaching street children by night after work in his house in Barronstrand Street, eventually deciding to sell his business "to Mr. Quan" and dedicate his life to educating them. Unpaid volunteers came to help him in those early days.
The money he raised from selling his company allowed him to create a fund to take care of his teenage daughter and she moved to her uncle Richard's house in Callan.
Edmund is joined by Thomas Grosvenor and Patrick Finn. The three men created a little community over a stable in New Street, which they were now using as a school. He was aged 40. Edmund took out a lease on the site of the formar Faha Chapel and work began on building a school in the Ballybricken area.
A purpose built monastery and school opened in Ballybricken, Waterford which was named "Mount Sion" by Bishop Hussey. The Brothers moved in to the unfinished house on June 7th, though it was only officially blessed by the new Bishop of Waterford, Monsignor John Power the following year.
A bakery to provide bread for breakfast, and a tailor's workshop to provide proper clothes for the students, were also built at the time.
A second foundation, in Carrick on Suir, Co. Tipperary (Paid for by John O'Brien, who himself became a Brother aged 62).
A third foundation, in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.
Edmund became the benefactor of a slave boy, John Roberts, known widely as "Black Johnny", and a young Italian immigrant Carlos Bianconi.
Edmund and six companions take five vows for one year on August 15th as members of the Society of the Presentation. They were to become known as "Gentlemen of the Presentation". Edmund became known as "Brother Ignatius" in the community. A Chapter was held in Mount Sion and Edmund was appointed Superior.
Meanwhile Bishop Power wrote to Pope Pius VII recommending that the Brothers be given a brief similar to the one the Presentation Sisters had gotten in 1791.
Again on August 15th, Edmund and seven other Brothers received their religious habit and "pronounced their perpetual simple vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, Gratuitous instruction of the Poor, and Perseverence in the Society until death".
Foundation in Chapel Lane, Cork (by Brothers O'Connor and Leonard).
A "Rice school" was established in Hanover Street, Dublin at Bishop Murray's request. (The community included Br. Thomas Grosvenor).
Brothers arrive in Limerick and Thurles (Cahill brothers).
Archbishop Murray (Dublin), returning from Rome through France "learned of a Society called Brothers of the Christian Schools; procured a copy of their Rules and Constitutions" Later a copy of Pope Benedict XIII's Bull (1724) was translated from French and a copy sent to each community so the Brothers could discuss this possibility.
Brothers agreed to reorganise into a Pontifical Congregation, i.e. with a Superior General of their own and no longer under the organisational authority of the local bishop.
The Papal permission, called a "Brief" and named in Latin "Ad Pastoralis Dignitatis" was issued on September 5th and brought from Rome to Ireland by Fr. Kenney. A translated copy was sent to each community. In August 1821 the Brothers gathered in Thurles to discuss their future and 17 of them signed their acceptance of the Brief.
19 professed Brothers took part in an assembly and retreat in Waterford in January, and afterwards the Brothers professed vows on the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 20th). The reorganisation plan was accepted and a new Congregation, the Congregation of Christian Brothers was formed. Edmund Rice became the first Superior General of the new Pontifical Congregation. On June 1st that year he was 60 years old.
The Brothers in Cork, led by Austin Riordan, continued as a Diocesan Congregation and continued to be known as the Presentation Brothers.
First school opened in England, at Preston in Lancashire. More schools follow in Manchester, Liverpool, Sunderland and London.
Austin Riordan leaves the North Monastery (Cork) for hte South Monastery, and maintains the Presentation Brothers.
Daniel O'Connell M.P. laid the foundation stone for the North Richmond Street school and Edmund moves headquarters from Waterford to the new "O'Connells Schools" in Dublin.
Catholic Emancipation Act results in a repeal of the anti-Catholic Penal Laws.
Cholera outbreak in Ireland results in some schools being used as temporary hospitals.
Edmund Rice resigned as Superior General and retired to Mount Sion. Michael Paul Riordan was elected as second Superior General.
Edmund Rice makes a farewell tour of the Irish Schools and Brothers Communities.
Edmund became seriously ill. A General Chapter was held that year at which he was refused participation.
Edmund died at Mount Sion, Waterford on 29th August, aged 82.
The "Cause" for Edmund's Beatification is introduced in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
Edmund's Cause is transferred to Rome.
Pope John Paul II bestows the title "Venerable" on Edmund Rice and declares him to be a man of "heroic virtue".
6 Oct 1996
Pope John Paul II declares Edmund Rice "Blessed" in St. Peter's Square in Rome.