The Teresian Association was born in Covadonga
Pedro Poveda was appointed canon of the shrine in 1906. In addition to his work as canon, he engaged in the study of pedagogical issues.
Regarding this time in his life, Poveda wrote the following in his journal: “God knows why he brought me here, still so young, to this peaceful haven.” Later on, he remembered, “Seven years of intense life in that blessed place were very fruitful, and everything they produced was around the goal of my life that flourished and crystallized looking at “La Santina.”
In 1928, his words attested to the fact that before the image of Our Lady he “prayed, projected, and one could say that he envisioned the development of the Work.”
Historian Juan José Tuñón has written about the region of Asturias that Pedro Poveda encountered when he arrived in 1906: a region hat had experienced “deep changes” in a short time and “where new ideological trends had taken root with strength.” And he pointed out that the Shrine of Covadonga was going through a good period because it became a diocesan project and the construction of the basilica was completed. This gave rise to an increase in pilgrimages. The Shrine of Covadonga “placed Poveda in direct contact with the religiosity of the faithful.”
Encarnación González, who was directly involved in the Canonization process of this Saint, has classified his writings during the time in Covadonga into two distinct groups:
The early ones, written with the intention of evangelizing the humble people who visited the Shrine of Covadonga. During this period he wrote:
- Covadonga, Visita a la Santina (Covadonga, Vist to the Santina), 1909
- La voz del amado (The Voice of the Beloved), 1908
- En provecho del alma (For the Good of the Soul), 1909
- Para los niños (For Children), 1910
- Plan de vida (Organizing One’s Life), 1911
Other Writings, which addressed the formation of a body of teachers of public elementary school, urging to remain united “in the Christian spirit and in their profession.”
- Ensayo de proyectos pedagógicos ( Attempt at Pedagogical Projects) 1911.
- Diario de una fundación (Diary of a Foundation), 1912. This book describes the channels and outreach of his first project, “Institución Católica de Enseñanza” (Catholic Educational Institution). It presents education as the cement of the social, economic, intellectual, cultural,and religious realities.
- Simulacro pedagógico (Pedagogical Essays), 1912. Also with the title of“Las Academias” (Academies), this book presents the “home” where teachers of the same ideas are formed. However, he could not make his ideal residence for students of the “Escuela Superior” a reality around the year 1908.
- Alrededor de un proyecto (Around a Project), Linares 1913. Thiswas a compilation of different newspaper articles published in Spain between 1907 and 1912. “El Universo” in Madrid first published them on November 7, 1912.
- On June 15, 1912, in Gijón he participated in the foundation of the publication “La Enseñanza Moderna” (Modern Teaching), which was viewed as a magazine on “social education.” The teachers Huertas and Palacios, who were his first collaborators, directed this publication. Poveda also sponsored an educational publication in Madrid, “La Enseñanza Católica” (Catholic Teaching), which in 1912 presented Pedro Poveda’s idea of a Catholic federation of Spanish teachers. This federation would sustain the “pedagogical centers” spread all over Spain, as described by Poveda in his Ensyo.
All of the above show that near Our Lady (la Santina) Poveda, in addition to attending to the pilgrims, reflected on the importance of education and the need of uniting faith and knowledge.
Aware of the role of the State in education, he insisted on the centrality of the teacher and the need of Christians in public schools. He published several writings on the issue of education and the formation of teachers. Thus, UNESCO has pronounced him Educator of educators.
Poveda did not remain isolated in Covadonga. Rather, he made his residence at the shrine as the headquarters for his project, traveling to Oviedo, where the University was a national cultural center; to Gijón, where he started his pedagogical projects; and also to Madrid and to his birthplace Linares.
En 1911, he opened a pedagogical center in Gijón. Concerned about the status of women in society, whose importance and impact he had captured, he also opened an Academy for female students of education. This would be the seed of the future Teresian Association. This Academy was conceived as a piece of a vast plan for the Christian formation and pedagogical renewal of educators, for the strengthening of their professional bonds, and the introduction at the national educational level of European teaching methods.
Professor Armando Pego Puigbó has written about Poveda and points out that his personality attracts him “because Poveda proposes ambitious objectives that are shared by other people of his time, such as the professional association of teachers or the renewal of teaching methods…”
He thinks that after the Guadix experience (1894-1905) at the service of the poor and their human advancement, in Covadonga there is paradigm change in Poveda. He writes that in his “Ensayo de proyectos pedagógicos” (1911) “his concept of the public school and the active role of the laity are already ripened into a process according to advanced professional criteria.”
According to the author of the book “Modernidad y Pedagogía en Pedro Poveda” (Modernity and Pedagogy of Pedro Povda) the experience in Covadonga, the originality of this young priest “consisted of his study of the reality that surrounded him, in its pedagogical dimension, not from the outside of said reality but from within.”
His proposal of a “Institución Católica de Enseñanza ” (Institution of Catholic Education) “had as its mission the organization of Catholic groups to present an alternative Christian model of education to face the active belligerence of the irreligious schools and in the face of the distance from Catholic principles that were sustained by the neutral school that followed the educational view of Giner de los Ríos.”
On the occasion of the closing of the Centenary of Poveda’s arrival in Covadonga University Professor Ramón Lull, from Barcelona, pointed out that “instead of crying for the eradication of the public school and promote the creation of Catholic schools, Poveda preferred to create a new way of transforming public schools with a Christian vision.” Thus, “Poveda associated faith and knowledge and he also assumed the role of women in education without following the traditional lines, but as a professional educator.” He thinks that in Asturias Poveda responded “to Christ’s call to live the faith in Him in the midst of a secularized society” because he himself had made “the journey of opening to the challenges of his time, making inroads into the modernity that was accessible to him as priest and educator of Spain in the beginning of the 20th century.”