Building on the premise that religious institutions and the initiatives that they engender have an important place in the history of education, this special issue analyses the methods by which the various aspects of religious tradition and heritage are transmitted, in particular but not exclusively in Catholic milieus, by enlarging the perspective relative to educational institutions. We examine various places, actors and events that converge parallel to the construction of secular schools and sometimes in reaction to them, to maintain and transform the process of religious transmission (knowledge, soft skills and identities) in the period of secularization. The articles deal with schools and their status – private or public, religious or lay – with French examples, but also the study of a paradoxical case, in Tunisia, of parents choosing a French secular school for their children. They show that, since the Revolution, parents and institutions (state or church) have been negotiating to commingle educational, moral and religious or areligious transmission, in a search for fragile and temporary compromises. Simultaneously, the articles study initiatives emanating from churches to counter educational secularization and laicization, such as a reform of the catechism and events like the World Youth Day. Covering two centuries of history, this special issue shows that the secularization of society does not preclude religious transmission but leads to a diversification of its forms, with a renewed focus by religious actors into the public sphere.