Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Institute of the Brigidines

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The Institute of the Brigidines was established by Most Rev. Dr. Delaney, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, at Tullow, Co. Carlow, Ireland, in 1807. Bishop Delaney, keenly alive to the lamentable state to which religion had been reduced by the Penal Laws and by the disastrous effects of the Rebellion of 1798, began to remedy the evil by applying himself to secure the proper observance of the Lord's Day, and the religious instruction of the children and adult women of his parish and diocese. He resided at Tullow, and to inaugurate his work there he formed catechism and reading classes to be held in the church on Sundays. To carry out this purpose he selected a number of exemplary young women to form a religious community. He allowed them to make vows, and thus laid the foundation of the Brigidine Institute, one of the first of the kind founded in Ireland since the Reformation.

The sisters immediately opened schools for the poorer and higher classes of children in the neighbourhood. This work proving successful, a building was erected for the accommodation of boarders who presented themselves, but who had until then to lodge in the town. Soon many came to avail themselves of the advantages of religious and secular education afforded by the Brigidine Sisters. The institute, although several times sanctioned by the Holy See, continued a diocesan congregation until 1892, when Pope Leo XIII, on being solicited to place all the houses of the institute under a mother-general, issued a Decree approving of change in government for five years by way of experiment, and in 1907 Pope Pius X confirmed, in perpetuity, the constitution of the new regime. Before and since that date several foundations have been made in Australia and New Zealand, where there are at present fourteen houses of the institute. There are five convents in Ireland: at Tullow, Mountrath, Abbeyleix, Goresbridge, and Ballyroan, all in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.

The pupils of the Brigidines (boarding and benefit schools) are prepared for the Intermediate, University, Senior Oxford, and Kensington Examinations, for those of the Incorporated Society of Music, and the technical courses.