Friday, January 11, 2008

St. John Baptist de La Salle, Patron Saint of Teachers

Also known as
Father of Modern Education
7 April; formerly 15 May
Attended the seminary in Paris, but quit to care for his brothers and sisters upon the death of their parents. When they were grown, he returned to school. Canon of Rheims in 1667. Ordained in 1678. Doctor of theology in 1680.

Spiritual director of the Sisters of the Holy Infant who were devoted to teaching poor girls. Founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Christian Brothers) in 1681, established and supported academic education for all boys. He liquidated his personal fortune, and his Brothers expected him to use it to further his education goals, but he surprised them by saying they would have to depend on Providence. The money (about $400,000) was given away to the poor in the form of bread during the great famine of 1683-1684. Saint John kept enough to endow a salary for himself similar to that which the Brothers received so he wouldn't be a burden on them.

Instituted the process of dividing students into grades. Established the first teacher's school. Started high schools and trade schools. Proclaimed the patron of all teachers of all youth by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
1651 at Rheims, France
1719 at Rouen, France
Name Meaning
God is gracious; gift of God
educators; school principals; teachers

Feastday: April 7
Patron of Teachers

John Baptist de la Salle was born at Rheims, France on April 30th. He was the eldest of ten children in a noble family. He studied in Paris and was ordained in 1678. He was known for his work with the poor. He died at St. Yon, Rouen, on April 7th. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900. John was very involved in education. He founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (approved in 1725) and established teacher colleges (Rheims in 1687, Paris in 1699, and Saint-Denis in 1709). He was one of the first to emphasize classroom teaching over individual instruction. He also began teaching in the vernacular instead of in Latin. His schools were formed all over Italy. In 1705, he established a reform school for boys at Dijon. John was named patron of teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950. His feast day is April 7th.

Prayer to Saint John Baptist de la Salle
Well-known Founder of the Congregation of the Brothers of Christian Schools, orthodox and prayerful theologian, you realized the very great value of competent Christian educators. How great your wholesome influence has been! Make you followers continue to be Christlike models for all their students who in turn will edify others. Amen.

Be driven by the love of God because Jesus Christ died for all, that those who live may live not for themselves but for him, who died and rose for them. Above all, let your charity and zeal show how you love the Church. Your work is for the Church, which is the body of Christ.

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