Patrician Brothers

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A teaching Patrician Brother in his habit on a stained glass window in Tullow, designed and created by George Walsh

The Patrician Brothers, or Brothers of Saint Patrick, are an Ireland-based Roman Catholic congregation for the religious and literary education of youth and the instruction of the faithful in Christian piety.


This Brotherhood was founded by the Right Rev Dr Daniel Delany, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, at Tullow, County Carlow, Ireland, on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in 1808. Religious toleration of Catholics and dissenters by the Irish Parliament since 1782, was followed by was the restoration of the franchise in 1793, and the Maynooth Grant.

In 1801, the Act of Union followed with the promise of Catholic Emancipation. Roman Catholics in Britain and Ireland were emerging from the punitive Penal Laws, which since 1728 had forbidden religious run schools which supported Roman Catholic doctrine and its practices.

The four founding members were Patrick McMahon (Brother John Baptiste), Richard Fitzpatrick (Brother Bernard), Ambrose Dawson (Brother Joseph) and Maurice Cummins (Brother John Evangelist).[1]

Bishop Delany set to founding the Religious Congregation of the Brothers of St Patrick in his diocese, for this purpose. He chose from among the catechetical instructors of the diocesan Sunday schools seven young men who formed the nucleus of the new order. Under the personal instruction of the bishop, and the direction of his successor, Dr Doyle, the congregation was established as a diocesan institution.[citation needed]

In succeeding years, branches were established in other dioceses of Ireland, and the Brothers were invited by several Australian and Indian bishops to erect schools these countries. Several foundations were made, among them those of Sydney, to which archdiocese the Brothers were invited by Cardinal Moran;[2][3] and that of Madras in India, undertaken at the request of Bishop Stephen Fennelly.[citation needed]

In 1885 the Brothers made application to the Holy See for the approval of the congregation, to constitute a central governance board and to establish a common novitiate. Sounding opinions from the bishops in whose dioceses the Brothers were established, Pope Leo XIII provisionally approved the congregation for five years by a Rescript dated 6 January 1888, and, on 8 September 1893,[4] he issued a decree of final confirmation. This included approving their rules and constitution, the facilities and powers necessary for their congregation, constituting India and Australia separate provinces. The governance of the order, which had functioned as separate communities, were united. The superior general four assistants governs the congregation, at the mother-house, Tullow, County Carlow, Ireland, where there is a novitiate and a house of studies.

A general chapter of the Patrician communities assembles every six years. As a result of the confirmation of the Institute, the Brothers could extend their congregation in Ireland, and open new colleges, schools and orphanages. For example, in 1948, the Brothers of Saint Patrick order was established in Midway City, California as the United States foundation and headquarters of Patrician Brothers.[4][5]

The archive of the Patrician Brothers is stored in the Delany Archive in Carlow College[6]

Work scope[edit]

The scope of their work, which embraces primary, intermediate and university education, has been extended in recent years. The introduction of a scheme of technical and scientific study by the different educational departments was warmly supported by the Brotherhood; while by their management of orphanages and industrial schools they aid to life skills.

Their residential colleges and secondary day-schools equip the students for adult life. The colleges of the Brothers in India are affiliated to the Allahabad, Madras and Calcutta Universities, in which their students distinguished themselves; while in Australia, they operate several schools.



  1. ^ Rt Rev Dr Daniel Delany's story, Carlow Nationalist; accessed 6 February 2015.
  2. ^ S. Aitken, The Patrician Brothers in Australia, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, 6 (3) (1980), pp. 1-5
  3. ^ Paul O'Connell, "The Expulsion of the Patrician Brothers from the Diocese of Bathurst, 1924-1927", Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, 6 (3) (1980), pp. 6-11.
  4. ^ a b Catholic University of America (2003). New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1 (2 ed.). Thomson Gale. ISBN 0787640042. Retrieved May 27, 2012. 
  5. ^ Rick Vanderknyff (12 March 1992). "It's More that Beer: Music, Culture and All Things Irish Are the Focus of St. Paddy's Celebrations". Los Angeles Times. p. 6. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Archive,; accessed 26 January 2018.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Patrician Brothers". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.