From its simple roots of seven men, the Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Today, the Society numbers over 20,000 members who work in 92 provinces worldwide, nine of which are in the United States.
Bellarmine College Preparatory is one of 56 Jesuit high schools in the U.S., each built upon the principles of the Ratio Studiorum, the spiritually-based education system initially developed by Ignatius for new members of the Order. The program proved equally valuable to non-Jesuits in their service of God and the Church, and quickly and quite unintentionally gave rise to the educational thrust of the Society of Jesus.
Ignatius saw education as a way to lead young people not simply to care for others but to "find God in all things".
Archbishop John Carroll founded Georgetown Academy, the first school of the Society of Jesus in the United States, in 1789. From that one institution, the enterprise has grown today to a network which educates nearly 50,000 students annually. Bellarmine, the second oldest Jesuit high school west of the Mississippi River, was founded in 1851 by John Nobili, S.J., and his companions, as Santa Clara College, a school for secondary and college-age students. Santa Clara College was separated into 2 schools in the early 1920s - Santa Clara University and the University of Santa Clara High School, or Santa Clara Prep. In 1925, Santa Clara Prep moved from the grounds of the University to our current location on University and Elm Streets in College Park. In 1928, the school became Bellarmine College Preparatory, in honor of Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, a Jesuit of the sixteenth century who had recently been canonized a saint and recognized as a Doctor of the Church.
Bellarmine finds inspiration in the Jesuit motto "ad majorem Dei gloriam", for the greater glory of God, and is honored to carry on the tradition of education mindful of cultivating one's gifts and talents, not for our enjoyment, but rather for the service of advancing God's work in today's world.
Our Jesuit Community
Bellarmine is very fortunate to have a community of Jesuits who live on campus in Wade Hall. These men are involved in teaching and/or hold a variety of positions within administration, Campus Ministry, and support services. Their presence on campus means that Bellarmine is able to offer Mass each day at lunch, and before school on Fridays. Other Sacraments are offered over the course of the school year, which include Reconciliation services via Religious Studies classes and Confirmation classes for seniors desiring to take this important step in their faith life.
While the presence of these men on campus is significant and meaningful for the school community, Bellarmine also recognizes that with the decreasing number of men entering the priesthood, the school can no longer rely exclusively on the Jesuit community to fulfill the school’s spiritual needs. The good news is that many Bellarmine faculty and staff members are deeply rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, through their own study and personal experience. For the past several years, all Bellarmine employees have been growing in a deeper understanding of Ignatian Spirituality, and strive to translate the vision of Ignatius of Loyola into a real and meaningful experience for students today inside and outside of the classroom, in every activity in which students are engaged.