convent schools

Conducted by religious orders of women, have existed for centuries, the education of girls having been from the earliest days one of the chief works of cloistered women. In the 6th century, Caesarius, Bishop of Arles, drew up rules for the schools established by his sister, Caesaris. English nuns went with Saint Boniface to Germany in the 8th century and founded schools throughout Saxony that were especially well known. In 747, the Council of Clovesho enjoined abbesses as well as abbots to provide for the education of all their household. During the warring ages from the 6th to the 13th centuries convents offered a safe shelter for the daughters of noble families and others, and the names of brilliant women educated in such schools include the learned abbess, Saint Hilda of Whitby, and the 10th-century poet and dramatist, Roswitha or Hroswitha, educated at Gandersheim by the abbess Gerberg, niece of Otto I. The education ordinarily given in medieval convents comprised reading and writing, liturgical singing, spinning, weaving, and embroidery. The Reformation closed the convent schools of England and Germany, but in southern Europe they continued to be a refuge from the worldliness of court and society. After the French Revolution there was an increase in such schools, and during the last century many teaching orders were added to those already established. The first convent school in North America was founded by the Ursulines, in Quebec, in 1639. French members of the same order established the first convent in the United States, in 1727, in New Orleans. The aim of convent schools is to combine secular and religious education with the training of character through religious influences. They include elementary schools, academies or high schools, and colleges. Many orders conduct their own training-schools, and hundreds of religious take degrees each year in the larger colleges and universities.