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This Brotherhood was founded by the Right Rev. Dr. Daniel Delaney, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, at Tullow, in the County of Carlow, Ireland, on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary , in 1808, for the religious and literary education of youth and the instruction of the faithful in Christian piety. Catholic Ireland was at this period just emerging from the troubled times of the penal laws . These laws made it treasonable for a Catholic parent to procure for his child a religious and secular education in consonance with his belief, and consequently not only were the young deprived of the means of instruction, but adults also were in a state of enforced ignorance of Christian doctrine and its practices. Bishop Delaney set about the good work of founding the Religious congregation of the Brothers of Saint Patrick in his diocese, for the purpose of affording his people that education of which they had been so long deprived. He chose from among the catechetical instructors of the Sunday schools seven young men who formed the nucleus of the new order, and under the personal instruction of the bishop, and direction of his successor, the illustrious Dr. Doyle , the congregation was established as a diocesan institution. In succeeding years filiations were established in other dioceses of Ireland, and the Brothers were invited by several Australian and Indian bishops to these distant countries. Several foundations were made, among them those of Sydney, to which archdiocese the Brothers were invited by Cardinal Moran; and that of Madras in India, undertaken at the request of the late prelate of that diocese, Bishop Stephen Fennelly.

In 1885 the Brothers made application to the Holy See for the approval of the congregation, for constituting a central government and for establishing a common novitiate. The request was granted. After taking the opinions of the bishops in whose dioceses the Brothers were labouring, Pope Leo XIII provisionally approved the congregation for five years by a Rescript dated 6 January, 1888, and on 8 September, 1893, issued a decree of final confirmation, highly commending the good work hitherto accomplished by the Brothers, approving of their rules and constitutions, granting them all the facilities and powers necessary for carrying on the duties of their congregation, constituting India and Australia separate provinces, and imparting to the institute the Apostolic Benediction. The houses of the order, which had hitherto been independent and separate communities, were united under a superior general who with four assistants governs the congregation.

A general chapter of the Patrician communities assembles every six years. As a result of the confirmation of the institute the Brothers have been enabled to perfect and extend their congregation in Ireland, and to open new colleges, schools, and orphanages in the above-mentioned foreign countries. The scope of their work, which embraces primary, intermediate and university education, has been much extended in recent years. The introduction of a scheme of technical and scientific study by the different educational departments has been warmly supported by the Brotherhood; while by their management of orphanages and industrial schools they aid thousands of youths to raise themselves to a higher place in the social scale. Their residential colleges and secondary day-schools equip the students for responsible positions in life. The colleges of the Brothers in India are affiliated to the Allahabad and Calcutta Universities, in which their students have distinguished themselves; while in Australia, notwithstanding that the Brothers receive no State aid, their pupils compete successfully with those of the highly subsidized Government schools for positions in the civil service. On the occasion of the centenary in 1908, His Holiness Pope Pius X bestowed on the order many favours and special indulgences. The superior general and his assistants reside at the mother-house, Tullow, Ireland, where are also the novitiate and house of studies.

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