Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (May 5)   1 comment

Above:  Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice

Image in the Public Domain



Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools of Ireland and the Congregation of Presentation Brothers


Let us do ever so little for God; we will be sure He will never forget it, nor let it pass unrewarded.

–Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice



Two orders of men date their founding to 1802 and to Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, an Irish Roman Catholic businessman who devoted much of his life to educating poor children.  Rice, born at Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, on June 1, 1762, was a son of Robert and Margaret Rice.  He attended a technically illegal Catholic school.  In 1779 Rice went to work for his uncle, an importer and exporter, at Waterford.  After the uncle died Rice became the sole proprietor.  He, a wealthy man, belonged to a local society devoted to helping the poor.  Yet our saint wanted to do more.

There were practical considerations, however.  Rice was a widower.  His wife, Mary Elliott, whom he had married in 1785, had died in 1789, leaving our saint to raise a newborn and mentally handicapped daughter.  There was also the fact that Rice, who was earning much money, could use those funds for holy purposes.  Was this not better than entering an order and taking a vow of poverty?  That was the counsel of more than person in 1794.  Rice remained a merchant until  1800, after which he began to found schools and religious orders.

Rice opened his first school (legally) at Waterford in 1802.  Thus his second phase of life and work began.  He and a group of men made vows as Presentation Brothers, subject to local bishops.  With Papal recognition in 1820 Rice’s order changed.  Continuing Presentation Brothers remained subject to local bishops while Rice transferred Christian Brothers across diocesan boundaries.  Our saint, an advocate for the rights of widows and orphans, retired as Superior General of the Christian Brothers in 1838, due to ill health.  He died, aged  82 years, at Waterford, on August 29, 1844.  At the time the Christian Brothers were present in Ireland, England, and Australia.

Pope John Paul II declared Rice a Venerable in 1993 then a Blessed three years later.





O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired

by the devotion of your servant Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722


One response to “Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (May 5)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin (May 9) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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