Listers, the following quotes come from The Education of Boys by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini. Aeneas died on August 14th 1464, a little over five years after being named Pope Pius II.1

As pope he was indeed not sufficiently free from nepotism, but otherwise served the best interests of the Church. Not only was he constantly solicitous for the peace of Christendom against Islam, but he also instituted a commission for the reform of the Roman court, seriously endeavoured to restore monastic discipline, and defended the doctrine of the Church against the writings of Reginald Peacock, the former Bishop of Chichester. He retracted the errors contained in his earlier writings in a Bull, the gist of which was “Reject Eneas, hold fast to Pius”. St. Catherine of Siena was canonized during his pontificate.

Pope Pius II is the only pope to grace the Church with an autobiography. His lesser known work on education can be found today in the anthology Humanist Educational Treatises. His quotes speak directly to the heart of education. Modernity has warped education into shallow occupational training and lacks the substance and wisdom to formed young men and women in the virtues. Even outside a religious sense, our culture has accepted the autonomy of the individual as the moral standard in the stead of natural virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude).

Every level of education needs to be reclaimed. An authentic Catholic education is not a secular curriculum with catechetical courses attached. It is an obedience to the natural order of knowledge and an adherence to the core sapiential principles of the liberal arts tradition.

Pope Pius II by Pinturicchio 1502-1507

On the Education of Boys

1. The Acquired Virtues

The pursuit of learning offers the greatest assistance in acquiring virtue.

2. No Lost Causes

Although one person excels another in talent, there is no one who cannot achieve something through effort.

3. Benefits of Education

To receive a proper education is the source and root of good virtue.

4. Rational Animals

There is nothing men possess on earth more precious than intellect, and that the other goods of human life that we pursue with great effort are truly insignificant and unworthy.

5. Happiness and Virtue

You cannot be called happy unless you are endowed with virtue and your intellectual goods exceed the goods of fortune.

6. Well Ordered

All else easily waits upon him to whom divine worship is dear.

7. An Education in Prudence

Unless boys are steeped from the beginning in the best books, their minds will be ruined and they will not be able to acquire good judgment.


More on Education:

What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Harmony: Quotes on Education and Liesure Classical Education: Quotes on the importance of learning to think

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Pius II ↩︎