Stonyhurst 425th celebrations announced

This year marks the 425th anniversary of the founding of the English College in St Omers in 1593, by Fr Robert Persons SJ. As such, Stonyhurst College has announced events, celebrations, projects and reflections that are fitting tributes to make 2018/2019 a special anniversary year.

Within 10 years of its foundation, the College of Saint-Omer in Artois numbered over 100 scholars. 30 years later this number had doubled. In 1678, the Paris Parliament passed unanimously the decree suppressing the Society of Jesus within its jurisdiction. Fearing that a decree was in preparation forbidding the boys to leave the College, it was decided that the Jesuits would begin to evacuate as soon as possible.

On the 19th of October 1762, Fr Lawson (Minister) and his fellow Jesuits set out for Bruges, and so ended the Jesuit connection with St Omers after 169 years. By the Papal Brief Dominus ac Redemptor, 21 July 1773, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus and they were forced to relocate once again, reassembling in Lieges. In 1794 yet another move was forced upon the school, and a new home was found at Stonyhurst Hall in Lancashire, which continues to this day as a direct lineal descendant of the College of Saint-Omer.

Stephen Withnell, Director of Strategic Development at Stonyhurst, said “Stonyhurst is the oldest continuously active Jesuit school in the world. Since our foundation in Saint-Omer by Fr Robert Persons SJ our story has been inextricably linked to the story of the Catholic Church in Britain and often times much farther afield. There is much to celebrate this year and all members of our school community will be involved. Next year we celebrate 225 years at our current home in Lancashire - and 20 years of full co-Education at the College - so one celebratory year will roll into another.”

All of the activities have been championed by members of the Stonyhurst 425 Working Group, who have come together from across the College and St Mary’s Hall. Works are still in progress as a number of things will be added throughout the year by the Working Group, the Heads of the Line and Committee, as well as by the pupils at SMH.

The programme of events develops around three central themes: Educational Excellence, with musical performances; Perspectives and Horizons, offering a number of lectures and competitions; Faith that Does Justice, with opportunities to join in community’s events. In addition to these, there will be special commemoratives activities.

Follow updates on the 425th anniversary on Stonyhurst's website.

Read more about St Omer's history in From the Archives: St Omer to Bruges – a college on the move