The founder of the Congregation of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, often called the Irish Christian Brothers. Edmund was born in Wescourt, Ireland, in June, 1762, the fourth of seven sons in a fanning family At seventeen he began working at his uncle's import-export business in Waterford. He later inherited the business. Married at twenty-five, Edmund lost his wife two years later and was left with a sickly infant daughter. A devout man, Edmund dedicated himself to charitable works. Though he saw how the economic and political storms of the day were impacting Ireland, he desired a religious vocation in the contemplative life. However, the Bishop of Waterford drew Edmund's attention to the bands of ragged youth in the streets, asking Edmund if he, too, planned to abandon them. Encouraged by Pope Pius VII and Bishop Hussey, Edmund sold his business, arranged for his daughter's care, and opened his first school in 1802. He had three other schools in operation by 1806, and took the name Ignatius as a religious with companions in 1808 in a pontifical institute. Edmund established the Catholic Model School and saw the founding of eleven communities in Ireland, eleven in England, and one in Australia, with requests coming from the United States and Canada. He resigned as Superior General in 1838 and died at Mt. Sion, site of his first school, on August 29, 1844. Pope John Paul II beatified him on October 6, 1996.
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By Deacon Keith Fournier
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