On the occasion of the International Congress for the 150th anniversary of Maria Montessori’s birth, Pope Francis called her “one of the most eminent figures of the cultural scene of the 20th century, who left a profound mark on education and on society as a whole […] for the construction of a more fraternal and peaceful world. […] May this significant anniversary encourage generous dedication in favor of the new generations, to form people of solidarity, citizens of the world open to dialogue and acceptance.”
The pedagogical work of Montessori (1870-1952) has spread in an extraordinary way throughout the world. Today there are 65,000 schools in 145 countries, including kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools. There are approximately 200 in Italy, 4,400 in the United States, 1,100 in Germany, 800 in the United Kingdom, 375 in Ireland, and 460 in the rest of Europe. The International Montessori Association has affiliate schools in Mongolia, Mexico, Colombia, as well as Belarus and Pakistan. There are also such schools in Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
More than 150 years after her birth, to what is Montessori’s success due, given that she is proclaimed “the most famous Italian woman ever?”