- Abbot Francis Pfanner and the Trappist Monks founded Mariannhill in December 1882. It was named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her mother, Anne.
- King/Inkosi Manzini, understanding the value of the learning that the monks were providing, ordered each homestead from the surrounding hillsides under his jurisdiction, to send two boys to the missionaries. The Trappists built a boarding school through which they could educate the boys in the Christian mode of living with Father A.T. Bryant as the first schoolmaster. Father Bryant was a great linguist and scholar, and was considered the “greatest authority on the Zulu People” and was renowned for his extensive publications including a Dictionary of the Zulu Language.
- For the first two years, only young boys and men attended the school. Thereafter, Abbot Francis founded a school for girls, which he called St. Anne’s. The number of pupils increased rapidly.
- In 1885, Abbot Francis founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, who from then onward, staffed the growing educational institutions at Mariannhill and its numerous daughter Mission Stations.
- In 1909, it was decided to combine the two schools and hence the inception of St. Francis’ College. From the beginning, St. Francis’ was a boarding school and offered learners the chance not only to focus completely on their studies and training, but to enjoy the comraderie and friendship of other boys and girls from all over South Africa and beyond.