On Tuesday 22 February, around three hundred people gathered to celebrate the opening of the centenary of the Teresian Association in Cordoba in Spain. The event was held in the assembly hall of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. It was also followed online from other locations through a live transmission channel.
María Asunción Ortiz from Cordoba, who holds a doctorate in history and is the archivist of the Teresian Association in Spain, gave the inaugural lecture entitled A Centenary Begins. The Teresian Academy of Cordoba, January 1922.
The event was moderated by Antonia Durán. After some words of welcome, the floor was given to María del Carmen Aragonés, sector director of Spain. She invited everyone to remember with gratitude the people who started the adventure of the Cordoba Academy. These were women who found that Pedro Poveda's vision offered them a new path − one that was new for themselves, for the Church and for education.
María del Carmen described the features of this fledgling association of the lay apostolate that was inspired by the early Christians. It brought together professional women, mainly working in education, who felt called to live according to Gospel values and to educate young people in a Christian way so that this new generation would be exemplars of goodness in their professions and homes. She made specific tribute to Victoria Díez.
She concluded by alluding to the current presence of the Teresian Association in Cordoba. This includes the Betica-Mudarra School, and the various activities that have their headquarters in the Plaza de la Concha, including the NGO InteRed and the Youth for Education groups.
A stroll through history
The speaker, María Asunción Ortiz, was introduced by Ana Córdoba of the centenary commission. She described the city of Cordoba in the 1920s and the cultural and urban-planning projects that the city was implementing in order to adapt to modernity. This openness to the future included a residential academy providing general and artistic education for women. It opened in January 1922 to prepare Christian professionals to teach in public and private schools.
The academy was located in the Plaza de la Concha, near the teacher-training college where Josefa Grosso and Carmen Fernández were teachers. They were the initiators of the new centre, and they asked for collaboration from well-known people from the city of Cordoba and other places. The speaker described the work of the Academies of St Teresa which Pedro Poveda had been opening in various cities in Spain since 1911. She also read several excerpts from articles in newsletters of cultural associations and in newspapers in Cordoba that gave regular news about the academy and those who had trained there.
One aspect that María Asunción highlighted was their close collaboration with the female branch of Catholic Action which soon began to hold its study circles in the house in the Plaza de la Concha. This was the reason for a visit by Queen Victoria Eugenia in 1923. Pedro Poveda always encouraged the joining of forces.
Names and faces
Before briefly recounting the story of the Teresian Academy, María Asunción pointed out that it was in Cordoba that a series of important writings by the founder were published in 1922, a collection under the title of “Jesus, Master of Prayer”, written in 1920 at a time when he stressed the importance of the education of the first members of the Association. He said that those writings continued to be central, just as they were for the first members who found strength in prayer in order to be generous in commitment.
In the refurbishment of the building in the Plaza de la Concha in the 1960s, after the school moved to its present location in the Sierra de Córdoba, a crypt was built for the remains of Blessed Victoria Díez. She was a teacher from Seville who died giving witness to her faith in Hornachuelos in the province of Cordoba. She had been attracted by this new charism in the Church when she attended the Academy in Seville, founded three years after the one in Cordoba.
María Asunción acknowledged with gratitude the people who helped set up the Cordoba Academy, including members of the Association and benefactors, friends and students.
She concluded by projecting photographs of the period, including a publicity brochure for the Academy. These images show the beautiful courtyard of the house that has witnessed the evolution in the activities that have been taking place there, always aimed to help educate women. It is currently the headquarters of the Teresian Association in Cordoba.
May 1929. Students of the Cordoba Academy in the courtyard with
Josefa Segovia (left), Angustias Algarra and Isabel del Castillo.
María del Carmen Aragonés closed the event with an invitation to the attendees to continue participating in the centenary celebration activities that will take place throughout 2022. She thanked the organising committee for their work and dedication. "To evoke history is to be able to celebrate it, to be able to better understand our present and to propel us into the future," she concluded.
Estrella Sendra, Córdoba.
TA Translators Team.