one sees nothing, yet sees everything,
knows nothing, yet knows everything,
is far better than light"*
Born in Amiens, France, in 1621 and educated at a Jesuit college in his hometown, Nicolas Barré decided at the age of 19 to dedicate his life to God, and joined the religious order of the Minims founded by St Francis of Paola. Seeing the disparity in opportunities for education between the rich and the poor in French society, he was inspired to establish an order whose specific objective was to educate girls of poor families.
In 1662, Fr Barré set up a girls’ school in the village of Sotteville near Rouen, with the aid of some pious women. Over the next four years, several more schools were set up in and around Rouen.
In 1666, Fr Barré realized the need for a spiritual bond among the sisters to counteract rising opposition from the other ‘writing masters’ or teachers of that time. He began a new religious congregation – the Charitable Mistresses of the Schools of the Holy Infant Jesus. As membership increased, the schools – known variously as the Charitable Christian Schools of the Holy Infant Jesus, the Little Charitable Schools or the Schools of Providence – multiplied. In Paris, he named his schools simply the Schools of the Holy Infant Jesus. In 1678, he founded a novitiate for the sisters on the Seine. However, in May 1686, his health declined, and he died on 31 May.
On 7 March 1999, Nicolas Barré was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II at a ceremony that was the apex of three days spent in prayerful rejoicing.
Four Sisters (three French and one Irish) arrive in Singapore on board the Hoogly. The four Sisters were Mother St Mathilde, Mother St Appollinaire, Mother St Gaetan and Sr St Gregory Connolly. CHIJ is established at the corner of Bras Basah Road and Victoria Street. Classes start for fee-paying students and orphans.
More land is acquired. Enrolment reaches 145, of which 82 receive free education.
CHIJ is declared a Government-Aided School..
Enrolment reaches 300. The junior Cambridge Examination begins.
Secondary Education starts.
The well-known Victoria Street chapel is erected.
Commercial classes are introduced, the first of their kind in Singapore, with an average class size of 15 to 20 students. Domestic Science and Needlework are introduced into the curriculum.
The Registration of School Ordinance comes into being. CHIJ is registered on 1 August.
A piece of land adjoining the Van Dyke Hotel is acquired. This is used as a hostel and subsequently becomes part of CHIJ Secondary.
CHIJ separates into Primary and Secondary Schools.
A common curriculum is introduced for Secondary 1 and 2.
Pre-university classes at CHIJ are terminated. The Board of Management of all IJ Schools is formed.
CHIJ moves out of its Victoria Street campus in December.
Classes begin at the new site in Toa Payoh.
CHIJ Primary and Secondary Schools are officially opened on 17 August.
CHIJ Secondary goes Autonomous.
CHIJ celebrates 150 years of its presence in Singapore.
CHIJ moves back to its Toa Payoh site after the Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools (PRIME).
The new school building is opened and the Centre of Excellence for Language and the Arts launched on 18 August.
CHIJ Secondary is awarded the School Distinction Award and Best Practice Award in Teaching and Learning.
CHIJ Secondary attains the Singapore Quality Class and is awarded the Outstanding Development Award in Character Education.
CHIJ Secondary is awarded the Development Award in National Education and the Best Practice Award in Staff Wellbeing. The school hosts the torch-lighting ceremony for the inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
CHIJ Secondary is awarded the Meritorious Defence Partner Award.
The CHIJ community marks the 350th anniversary of its founding in 1662: as part of the celebration, the CHIJ Museum is opened in May.
CHIJ girls past and present gathered on 9 Nov (Sun) to celebrate the 160th anniversary of their alma mater.About 400 students, teachers and alumni formed a human chain around the original Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus building, along Victoria Street, now known as Chijmes, while singing the school song.