History of Fordham Prep
Our Jesuit Tradition
St. Ignatius was born in 1491 at the family castle of Loyola in the Basque region of Spain. In his own words, Ignatius “was given to the follies of the world," and what he enjoyed most was "warlike sport," having "a great and foolish desire to win fame.” At Pamplona in 1521, Ignatius’ search for fame ended when a French cannonball severely wounded his legs. A long, complicated convalescence contributed to a period of soul searching and reflection. Ignatius discovered God at work in his life, and his desire for fame turned into a desire to dedicate himself to God.
After time spent as a pilgrim and a process of conversion to loving service of God, Ignatius returned to school. He eventually studied in Paris for seven years, spending his free time preaching and sharing his insights about the ways of God. Attracted by his experience of God’s love, several men joined Ignatius. This small group of companions would eventually grow into the Society of Jesus, an order of Catholic priests and brothers dedicated to service for the good of souls.
While the original purposes of the Society did not include education, it was not long before Ignatius was requested to include local boys in his schools for men entering the Society. The first Jesuit school opened in 1548 in Messina, Sicily. By the time of Ignatius’ death, there were over 40 Jesuit schools, and within a few decades, there were 245 schools. Today there are more than 2,000 Jesuit educational institutions in 56 countries around the world.
Archbishop John Hughes founded a school at Rose Hill in Fordham, NY — then a part of Westchester County, now a section of the Bronx. That school, originally known as St. John's College, would become known as Fordham Prep and Fordham University. For nearly 175 years, young men have been coming to the Prep to study Latin, Greek, English, math, art and science, as well as for religious formation. While distinct from the University since 1972, Fordham Preparatory School still calls the beautiful Rose Hill Campus its home as it has since the 19th century.