Our Founder - De La Salle
ST. JOHN BAPTIST DE LA SALLE
Born in Reims, France : 30th April 1651
Ordained Priest: 9th April 1678
Died: 7th April 1719
Beatified: 19th February 1888
Canonized: 24th May 1900
Proclaimed Patron of Christian Teachers: 15th May 1950
St. John Baptist de La Salle was born of a noble, well-to-do family in Reims, France, in 1651. As a young student, he felt the call to be a priest and became a Canon of Reims Cathedral at the age of sixteen. While studying for the priesthood in Paris, he suffered the loss of both his parents. Since he was the eldest in the family, he had to return home to look after his brothers and sisters. However, the call to priesthood was very strong and he later returned to the seminary and was ordained priest at the age of twenty seven.
At that time a few people lived in luxury, but most of the people were extremely poor. Only a few could send their children to school. Most children had little hope for the future. Moved by the plight of the poor who seemed so "far from salvation" either in this world or the next, he was determined to put his own talents and advanced education at the service of the children "often left to themselves and badly brought up."
St. John Baptist de La Salle was a man of great vision and intellect, enriched with a deep faith and an ardent zeal. He was also a practical man, a man of action. He knew that God loved these poor children and was calling on him to express this love in a practical manner. He realised too, that a basic education would help these children contribute to the good of society and lead them to salvation. He therefore set about taking these boys off the street by finding good teachers and establishing schools. The boys were taught how to read, write and compute. They were also taught how to pray, to receive the sacraments, to behave politely and to respect each other. His reputation grew rapidly and in time, many young men, inspired by his vision and work, joined him. He gathered them, as a small community, in his own house, gave them some basic teacher training and sent them out to teach. He faced opposition from his family, from some members of the Church, and from established schoolmasters but he carried on believing his work to be the work of God.
In this way, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, otherwise known as the De La Salle Brothers, came into being. Worn out by austerities and exhausting labours, he died at Saint Yon near Rouen early in 1719 on Good Friday, only weeks before his sixty-eighth birthday.
St. John Baptist de La Salle was a pioneer in founding training colleges for teachers, reform schools for delinquents, technical schools, and secondary schools for modern languages, arts, and sciences. His work quickly spread through France and, after his death, continued to spread across the globe. In 1900 John Baptist de La Salle was declared a Saint. In 1950, because of his life and inspirational writings, he was made Patron Saint of all those who work in the field of education. St. John Baptist de La Salle inspired others how to teach and care for young people, how to meet failure and frailty with compassion, how to affirm, strengthen and heal. At the present time there are De La Salle schools in more than 80 different countries around the globe.
|Reims Cathedral, begun in 1212 and finished in the 14th century, rich in history and artistic splendor: Clovis was baptised here (in an earlier building) and the French kings crowned, including Charles VII brought by Saint Joan of Arc. John Baptist DE LA SALLE was a canon of the cathedral and celebrated here his first Mass, April 10, 1678|
|Facade of the birthplace of John Baptist DE LA SALLE, the Hotel de la Cloche. His family lived there till June 24, 1665 when they moved to the Rue Sainte-Marguerite. Now owned by the Institute it is called the Hotel De La Salle, and contains a very interesting collection of materials concerning the Saint.|
|View of the Hotel de La Salle as it is today. The building was seriously damaged during the war of 1914-1918, but this courtyard remained almost untouched, and gives us an idea of the times of the DE LA SALLE family.|
|The Signum Fidei - official seal of the De La Salle Brothers.|