Saints and Theology of the Heart - St. John Baptist de la Salle

Founder of the De La Salle Christian Brothers
Patron of teachers

Feast: April 7

"Be satisfied with what you can do, since this satisfies God, but do not spare yourself in what you can do with the help of grace. Be convinced that, provided you are willing, you can do more with the help of God’s grace than you imagine.” - St. John Baptist de la Salle

St. John was born in Rheims, France on April 30th, 1651. He had great piety as a child; at the age of 11, he received the tonsure and the age of 16, he became a canon at the Cathedral in Rheims. He then went to seminary to study at St. Sulpice.

When he returned to his hometown, he discovered that he was called to educate the poor. Education, during this time, was only for the rich and noble people. He began to start working with poor children in any way he could, starting with spiritual direction with the Sisters of the Holy Infant, whose main apostolate was running an orphanage. He came into contact with a woman, who encouraged him to open an orphanage for boys.

He founded a religious community called the Brothers of Christian Schools. They took the three vows, but not Holy Orders. They devoted their lives to teaching the poor. He introduced teaching in French instead of Latin. They taught ethics, literature, physics, philosophy and mathematics. There were many protests, but after some time when the schools became more permanent, the persecutions started coming to an end. Soon, his schools appeared all throughout Italy.

St. John died on April 7th, 1719, Good Friday of that year. St. John was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in the year 1900. He became patron saint of teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950. The brothers have started foundations throughout Europe, England, Ireland, the Levant, North America, South America, the West Indies and Australia. The first school was started in the United States in 1846.




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