The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was developed in the 1950s in Rome by Sofia Cavalletti, a scholar of the bible and Judaism, with Gianna Gobbi, a Montessori educator, who were preparing together a small group of children for First Communion. They had been asked to do so by Adele Costa Gnocchi, one of Maria Montessori’s most far-sighted collaborators, who had opened a Children’s House in the center of Rome for the education of little ones.
Costa Gnocchi had long intended to renew an experience that had begun many years earlier in Barcelona and that for various reasons could not be continued. This experience led to the birth of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Going back to the origins is useful for understanding, and it is always necessary in order to fully understand how a certain experience has come down to us and is still alive today. In Barcelona, about a century ago, after the First World War, a teacher – in order to help children in the elementary classes understand addition and subtraction – had discovered a simple but effective method: using small wooden cubes placed one above the other, or separated. Amassing the cubes means addition, separating them instead, subtraction, and so on.