Bishop Scandella and King Manoel of Portugal - Rosa Eschauzier and Ana Rivera
Enriqueta Bosistoro and Teresa Gil - Pilar Martinez and Josefa Martinez
Vicenta Martinez and Antonia Martinez - Carmen Martinez and Maria Sancho
Rafaela Sancho and Concepcion Abren - Isabella Sanchez and Marie Ondot
Mother de Britto Longford and Mother Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney
Mother Stanislaus Cousse Murphy and Mother Agnes Fitzgerald
Mother Scholastica Taylor and Father Femenías - Brother Virgilius Jones and Dr Hughes
Sir Richard Airey
Gibraltar (1894 - Gustavo Bacarisas ) (See LINK)
The Bishop now decided that the Loreto Community’s finances needed improvement. He advised the nuns to organize a bazaar. Bazaars were arranged now and again as a means of raising money. The children’s families worked hard to open a very successful bazaar which was held on November 7th 1866 at the Theatre Royal, permission having first of course been obtained from the Governor, Lieutenant General Sir Richard Airey. (See LINK)
Gunner's Parade with the Theatre Royal back right
Contributions were received from the great and the good. Pope Pius IX sent a cameo; Queen Isabel II of Spain,
…was quite distressed when told of the bazaar as she thought she had nothing just then sufficiently valuable to give, but remembering that she wore a girdle of rubies and diamonds she pulled it off and presented it to the Bishop saying, ‘My Lord, I regret having nothing better to offer’ .
Bishop Scandella went to Rome that year to attend the First Vatican Council and while he was there he met the Portuguese Holy Ghost Fathers. During the 19th century the Portuguese economy faltered and Republicanism took hold, leading eventually to the abolition of the Monarchy in 1910 and the founding of a Democratic Republic. Bishop Scandella discovered that the Holy Ghost Fathers were about to leave Santarem because of the political turmoil in Portugal and he persuaded them to consider coming to Gibraltar to staff his proposed College for boys.
1910 - King Manoel II in Gibraltar (See LINK)
In 1871 Bishop Scandella again sought permission to build on the Europa Road property. This was the year the Holy Ghost Fathers arrived to take charge of the boys’ college, “St Bernard’s”, named after the Patron Saint of Gibraltar. This time the request was for: “two small rooms for music classes”
The Holy Ghost Fathers had hoped to run the school and to open a scholasticate and a novitiate for their Brothers. Having left Santarem when anti-clerical feeling developed in Portugal during the political upheavals of the late 19th century they expected that after the recent similar suppression of Religious Orders and Catholic schools in Spain many Spanish students would seek to be educated on the Rock. Besides, Gibraltar might be a source of vocations for their mission in the Congo.
However, their expectations remained unfulfilled, the Spanish students did not materialise, and the Fathers felt obliged to leave Gibraltar by the end of 1872. Since their withdrawal after less than two years in Gibraltar Bishop Scandella’s hopes for St Bernard’s College on the Europa site faded away, and the boys once again moved down to their old premises in Rosia Parade where, for the next six years, they were taught by some of the local priests and a few male lay teachers.
New Mole Parade in Rosia ( Late 19th century )
The departure of the Holy Ghost Fathers was a blow to the Bishop who had already invested a great deal of money in the Europa project. He had built extensively on the land leased for the College. It was later said that “grief for the failure of that College brought on softening of the brain of which he died.”
This illness towards the end of Dr Scandella’s life might account to some extent for the difficulties experienced by Loreto in its dealings with the Bishop. The Loreto nuns had contributed financially towards the building of the Sacred Heart Church. They also contributed towards the development of the Europa Road site, though the lease for the latter remained in Dr Scandella’s name.
In January 1873 Bishop Scandella renewed the lease, The new contract stipulated that “the vegetables and flower garden must be kept in cultivation”. Since by this time St Bernard’s School had moved off the premises and back to Rosia the care of this garden must have fallen to the Loreto nuns. In the past the cultivation and upkeep of vegetable gardens had been essential as Gibraltar discovered only too well during the numerous sieges, or latterly when “cordons sanitaires” were set up by Spain in order to prevent the spread of disease from Gibraltar into that country. These little gardens had helped alleviate shortages of green vegetables at such times in the past.
1884 - Cholera epidemic
Once the Convent of Our Lady of Europa Boarding School was opened Spanish girls who had been at school in York and Rathfarnham (some the daughters and granddaughters of Mother Mary Teresa Ball’s school friends) now found the Convent on the Rock nearer home and they began to travel in from as far away as Tarifa, Cadiz, Seville and Malaga to enrol as boarders.
The 1878 Census lists thirteen boarders at the school in Europa of whom four were Gibraltarians but whose parents were living in Spain or in England; the rest were Spanish. They were:
Marie Ondot, aged twenty-five, was engaged as “Governess” to improve the girls’ spoken French. She had been in Gibraltar since she was nineteen. On some evenings and on Sundays there would be band concerts in the Alameda Gardens and whether or not they walked in the gardens the boarders and the nuns at the Europa convent would no doubt have heard some of the repertoire of music played by an eighty-strong military brass and string band. In any case the nuns would take their boarders for a weekly walk on Sundays, often in the Alameda, where the young people of the town would be amongst the great crowd promenading on summer evenings.
Listening to a military band in the Alameda Gardens (Early 20th century )
In the late 1870s Reverend Mother Scholastica Somers’ term of office as General Superior was drawing to a close. When Mother de Britto Longford and Mother Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney arrived in Gibraltar from Ireland they were clearly disturbed by the state of Loreto’s affairs on the Rock. The day after their arrival Mother de Britto and Mother Elizabeth wrote to Reverend Mother Scholastica, closing their letters. The letters were returned to them opened, and they were informed that Mother Stanislaus Cousse Murphy was now “Mother General” in Gibraltar, according to the Bishop.
Mother Elizabeth decided to try writing via her brother. One Sunday morning while taking the boarders for their weekly walk Mother Elizabeth put the unstamped letter into the red pillar box which used to be near Loreto Convent at the junction of South Barrack Road and Europa Road (opposite Brympton). Given the nuns’ earlier experiences of interference with their post the Gibraltar Annals record Mother Elizabeth’s anxiety:
Poor Mother Elizabeth couldn’t eat or sleep for a day or two fearing the letter would be returned by the Post Office. The answer was a letter from Reverend Mother Xaveria recalling her and bidding Mother Stanislaus accompany her.
One of a set of four statues known as "The Four Continents" found somewhere in the Loreto Convent - This one was called "Africa" ( 1999 - Gry Iverslien )
In 1873 Mother Agnes Fitzgerald, a trained National School teacher, arrived in Gibraltar and joined Mother Scholastica Taylor at St Joseph’s. A small piece of the extra classroom given to the nuns by Father Femenías was boarded off to make a place in which the Sisters could at last take their lunch instead of fasting from breakfast until school broke up for the day! Father Femenías also gave them a small patio which the girls could use as a playground.
1873 was also the year that the Christian Brothers arrived in Gibraltar for the second time. Two years later Brother Virgilius Jones took over the teaching of the boys at St Joseph’s, while Mother Scholastica continued teaching the girls there, now with Mother Agnes, until 1879. Bishop Scandella died on July 27th 1880.
It is undoubtedly true that Bishop Scandella was as passionate for the educational welfare of the children of Gibraltar as had been Dr Hughes. During his tenure of office he employed many more teachers, opened St Bernard’s Boys’ School at Rosia Parade, founded the Conference of St. Vincent de Paul in 1860 and pressed them to foster the education of children. The St Vincent de Paul Society, at the Bishop’s instigation, opened schools at Catalan Bay (see LINK) (whence Mary Ann Fairchild was recruited to be the Bishop’s laundress three years later), Lime Kiln Road, and two in the crypt of St. Joseph‘s Church.
Rosia Parade ( Late 19th century )
It is unfortunate that in his attempts to provide education for Gibraltar’s children Bishop Scandella appears to have overstretched himself financially. Nevertheless his ‘memorials’ stand: the new churches, the many schools, and – with the indisputable achievements, sometimes underrated in the history books, of the Loreto nuns – a more robust foundation for a public educational system in Gibraltar.
Bishop Scandella was also instrumental in bringing back the Christian Brothers in 1878, after their initial two-year period in Gibraltar some forty years earlier. This time they returned having first agreed a clear and unambiguous contract with the Bishop. They had learned their lesson – not only in Gibraltar – and
…had had enough of being at the mercy of every successive patron or committee who assumed the responsibility of management of the financial and other affairs of the school.
Dr Scandella was certainly very proud of the standard of education provided for the girls by the Loreto nuns. He felt that Our Lady of Europa Convent School compared very favourably with any good school in any European capital city, and the Annals record the successes during the annual inspections of the Government schools run by the Loreto nuns. Loreto offered quality education in all its schools and took every opportunity to have the Sisters properly trained, and sometimes certificated. . .
The Loreto nun community in Gibraltar (1903 )
BACK TO HOME PAGE
BACK TO HOME PAGE