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Saint John Baptist de la Salle


This John Baptist, surnamed de la Salle, who was destined to change for all time the methods of educating the young, was born to the noble family of that name, in 1651, at Rheims. As a little lad he shewed such remarkable signs of a vocation to the priesthood that at the age of eleven he received the clerical tonsure, and at the age of sixteen was made (according to a custom of those times which the Church later forbade) a Canon, though still a layman, at Rheims Cathedral. Forthwith he entered the Seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris, and also studied at the Sorbonne. And when he had finished all due training for the priesthood, he was ordained and began to fulfil the duties of his canonry.

One of these was the direction of the Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus, which same was engaged in the education of girls. Thereby the young Canon came to understand the great need of providing the children of the poor with a thorough training in Christian principles. Whereupon he established schools for poor boys; and since there were few suitable instructors to be found for such schools as he desired to establish, he himself undertook to train teachers in holy living and in pedagogical methods; and to this end he was finally obliged to establish a religious Institute, known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which same is now happily spread all over the world. But this foundation was not accomplished without heart-breaking difficulties and long and heroic effort. The first men whom he attempted to train would not accept the discipline which he knew to be necessary. Furthermore, salaried teachers opposed him on the grounds that he was taking from them their means of livelihood.

From the controversy thus engendered he and his brethren were subjected to many calumnies and persecutions. Also an illness spread among the Brothers, from which many died. And as there had never before been a religious institute with the peculiar vocation and work of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, it took years of patient effort before the community was able to obtain suitable Constitutions and the Profession of Perpetual Vows. In the process of this long development the Brothers, under his direction, revolutionized education for the young, and taught the world their new pedagogical methods. And the holy man himself resigned all his ecclesiastical dignities, and devoted his family estate to the poor, that he might share the poverty of his brethren. It was finally made a rule of the Institute that only laymen should be accepted as members, and that no Brother should ever become a priest. On Good Friday, in 1719, being the sixty-eighth year of his age, he passed to God with these words on his lips: I adore all the designs of God for me. He was canonized in 1900.


O GOD, who, for the teaching of the poor in thy religion, and for the confirmation of the young in the way of truth, didst raise up thy blessed Confessor Saint John Baptist, and didst through him unite together a new household in thy Church: mercifully grant that, by his intercession and example, we may be so filled with fervent zeal, for thy glory and for the salvation of souls, that we may be made worthy to be partakers of the crown of his heavenly glory. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1212-1213

Additional Information:

Ordo Kalendars are available from the Anglican Parishes Association Book Publisher.

For additional readings, or to learn more about the Anglican Breviary, visit The Anglican Breviary Website.