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Our History


1856: The Treaty of Paris signals the end of the Crimean War. France is recognised as a protectorate of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire.

1856: L’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient is founded by secular professors from Sorbonne University: The mathematician, Augustin Cauchy; the Hellenist, Charles Lenormant; Alfred de Falloux, Charles de Montalembert, and Gustave François Xavier Delacroix de Ravignan.

The Association was intended to support French-language schools in Lebanon.

1857: Charles Martial Lavigerie is appointed the first director of l’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient. He then becomes bishop of Nancy, then Archbishop of Algiers, and cardinal and founder of the Pères Blancs (White Fathers missionary society).

1858: L’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient is recognised as an ecclesiastical organisation by Pope Pius IX.

1860: Massacre of Christians by the Druzes, causing an outcry in France.

1886: Monsignor Félix Charmetant, a fervent defender of the Armenian cause, becomes director of l’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient.

1931: L’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient is renamed l’Œuvre d’Orient, working in close collaboration with the Congregation for Eastern churches.

2010: Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch is appointed the 11th director of l’Œuvre d’Orient on the recommendation of the Archbishop of Paris.

2014: Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch is appointed vicar general of the Ordinariate for Eastern (Rite) Catholics in France by Cardinal Vingt-Trois.

2016: 160th anniversary of l’Œuvre d’Orient


Since its creation in 1856, l’Œuvre d’Orient has extended its scope of action while remaining true to its purpose: to give priests and religious communities the means to accomplish their mission, for the greater good.