Our school's history

 

Our founder Joan of Lestonnac was born in Bordeaux in 1556 into a wealthy family that donned her with education and culture. From an early age, and due to her family environment, she came into contact with the religious disputes of the time and with ideas focused on Humanism.
 
She married Gastó de Montferrand at the age of 17. This was a happy time for her and she became a mother to different children born out of her loving relationship. At the age of 41 she became a widow and then decided to enter the convent of the Fuldenses; one night before Christmas, after an illness, Joan discovered her vocation. At the age of forty-seven she decided to leave the convent on doctor’s orders and with the blessing of the convent's mother superior. From that moment on, and with the collaboration of the Jesuit brothers, she began to shape the organisation of what would become the Society of Mary.
 
First steps in the Society's history. Arrival in Barcelona
 
In 1645, five years after Joan's death, Spain and the rest of Europe were going through a serious crisis affecting various human activities. In Barcelona, ​​as a result of the war being fought in Catalonia, this crisis was felt with particular severity and affected all  institutions. In the midst of these circumstances, an interesting educational proposal was presented to the Consell de Cent recommended by the French Friends of the Catalan Cause.
 
 
 

The project was well received by this governing body for its public interest and main purpose ('the education and teaching of girls and their free character'). It was approved on November 12th of that year. The key person who carried out the project was Guillem de Jossa, a key figure in the promotion of women's education.
 
Due to difficulties between institutions and the severity of the wars between the Principality and Philip IV, it was not possible to found them until 1650. On October 13th, five nuns from Béziers arrived in Barcelona and founded the first House of the Society of Mary on the Peninsula. It was the first female educational institution in our country. Their educational program, featuring  strong influences inspired in Humanism, far exceeded the goals of the enlightened Spaniards of the eighteenth century, who already believed in education as a means of transforming the world.
 
From 1660 onwards, Barcelona's experienced a progressive vitality that led it at the end of the century to the foundation of new houses in Tudela and Tarragona and also in Latin America.
 
The foundations of the school-convents of Barcelona, ​​Tudela and Tarragona meant a considerable feat of innovation as they had an educational project of integral formation, where the students were organised into different groups according to their ages and knowledge. In order to achieve this, school buildings were used that met the new pedagogical requirements.
 
So ‘Attend education’, which was the name that the town gave to the school and the street of Barcelona where it was located, became the expression that gave name to this integral education. The same thing happened in other parts of Spain and Latin America.
 
At present, the Lestonnac Schools and the Society of Mary are present in:
 
  • Catalonia: Barcelona, ​​Badalona, ​​Cardedeu, Mollet, Sant Cugat, Solsona and Tarragona
  • Spain: Aragon, Andalusia, Cantabria, Castilla la Mancha, Castilla y León, Basque Country, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid and Navarra
  • Europe: France, Albania, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom
  • Africa: Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Rep. Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania.
  • America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, USA, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Chile
  • Asia: Japan, the Philippines and Lebanon