In chapel this week we celebrated the feast of Epiphany! (January 6).This is the end of the Christmas season; when we celebrate the arrival of the visitors from the East who came to pay homage to the King of Kings. This is a reminder that the birth of Jesus is not a “local” event”–the movement is about to go global and transcend cultural differences.
The first Montessori environment was opened on the day of Epiphany in January 1907 in San Lorenzo, Rome, Italy, by Dr. Maria Montessori.
Montessori later said that she had been asked to make a speech for the occasion. Earlier that day, remembering that it was the feast of the Epiphany, she had read the lesson in her mass book. When she made her speech she read it as an omen for the work to follow. She proceeded to read Isaiah 60:1-6.
“Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about, and see; all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see, and abound and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha; all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.”
She added “I don’t know what came over me but I had a vision and inspired by it, I was enflamed and said that this work we were undertaking would prove to be very important and that someday people would come from all parts to see it.”
In reporting this new whim of society, the press also mentioned that Dr. Montessori had made a beautiful speech, but what an exaggeration in what she had said! (Little did they know).
There are now over 4,000 Montessori schools in the United States and Canada and over 20,000 worldwide. This includes Asia, Western Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Central and South America. The number of schools and training centers continues to grow.