In 1837 the Congregation of Holy Cross was founded. The Congregation of Holy
Cross took its name from a district in the city of LeMans, France – Saint Croix
or Holy Cross. Holy Cross School enjoys a distinction of being the second oldest
sustained foundation worldwide in the Congregation of Holy Cross, second only to
the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, founded in 1842.
In 1849, at the invitation of the Most Reverend Antoine Blanc, Archbishop of New
Orleans, five brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross were sent by Father
Basil Moreau to assume responsibility for St. Mary’s Orphanage. On May 18, 1849,
Brother Vincent Pieau wrote to Moreau:
“I went there on April 25 and entered the orphan asylum on May 1. Our
establishment is composed of five Brothers, two for the classes (Brothers Basil
and Louis), one for the dormitories (Brother Francis de Sales), one kitchen
director (Brother Theodule), and finally I am in charge of the house and am
liaison with the administration of which the Bishop is spiritual head, and the
other members, all lay, are temporal heads.”
During the early years of the foundation New Orleans was devastated by a series
of epidemics: cholera, yellow fever, and malaria. The city suffered privation as
a result of the northern blockade during the War Between the States. There was
the continuing aggravation of the climate of which Brother Vincent said, “was
unhealthy, especially for strangers.” More than once consideration was given to
withdrawing from New Orleans. In the late 1850s, Father Moreau was prompted to
“I have followed your progress in mind and heart all along and if there is one place in which I
am deeply interested and for which I have great affection, it is most certainly New Orleans. This
place has experienced various kinds of hardships from the day of its foundation, but that is proof
that it will also become a place of great blessing.”
In 1859 the congregation purchased Reynes Farm, a riverfront plantation. In 1879, as the need
for an orphanage diminished, St. Isidore’s College, a boarding and day school was opened. This
became the original site on which Holy Cross School stood and it is here that Holy Cross’ history
On June 20, 1890, the General Assembly of the state of Louisiana chartered the institution,
empowering it to confer bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
In 1895 the original administration building was erected for $15,000, and at the suggestion of the
Archbishop Francis Janssens, St. Isidore’s College was renamed and solemnly dedicated Holy
Cross College. Expansion of the facilities soon became imperative and in 1912, two wings were
added to the main building and a gymnasium was built to accommodate the steady increase of
students. At approximately the same time, though chartered as a college, the school became a
secondary institution confining itself to activities on that level.
In 1945 the Holy Cross alma mater was introduced.
In 1954, a new building with classroom facilities, science labs, a library, and a
cafeteria was erected to meet the needs of the growing student body. Five
additional facilities were added: the Student Center in 1962, the Brothers’
Residence in 1964, the junior Olympic swimming pool in 1965, the middle school
building which was originally built as a new boarders’ residence in 1966, and an
athletic building which housed a weight training room and video facility in
The boarding program attracted as many as 150 students a year from across the
south as well as Central and South America. Resident students were housed in two
dormitories located in the administration building as well as two residence
halls which provided private accommodations for upperclassmen. In 1972 the
boarding school was discontinued and the middle school opened.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans devastating
the original school complex at 4950 Dauphine Street.
In 2007 Holy Cross entered a new chapter in her long, rich history. In order to
continue the mission of Holy Cross in the New Orleans area, the brothers of the
Congregation of Holy Cross and the board of directors selected a site in
Gentilly to relocate the campus.
On March 20, 2010 Holy Cross School solemnly dedicated a 20-acre campus at the
new location in Gentilly.
With the middle school and high school on the same campus, Holy Cross has a unique
opportunity to educate “Boys to Men.” The school’s legacy is summed up by our motto:
“Become the Man You Are.” To meet this challenge the faculty has committed itself to creating
a sequential curriculum, grades 5–12.
Today more than half of the young men are students of legacy having followed a greatgrandfather,
grandfather, or father to Holy Cross. This legacy is embodied in the school code
“The Holy Cross Man” and quoted from memory by Holy Cross men young and old.