The long history of St. Xavier’s Institution is both a humble saga and an inspiring story. Back in 1786, the year Penang was founded, French Catholic priest Reverend Father Domino Arnaldo Antonio-Garnault arrived from Kedah1. Garnault and his Christian congregation had fled Siam to escape persecution.
He set about establishing a school in a mangrove swamp in a small attap shed, using Malay as the medium of instruction. This is where Church Street now stands.
Four decades later, in 1825, Monsignor Jean-Baptiste Boucho took over the administration of the school, converted it into an English-medium school, and moved it to a brick building that he had constructed. The school was subsequently renamed the Catholic Free School, to set it apart from the newly established Penang Free School set up by Protestants.
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