St. De La Salle

(1651- 1719)


Born and raised in Reims, France, John Baptist de La Salle received a classical education at school.  He was ordained priest (1678) and awarded Doctor of Theology (1680).

De La Salle was concerned for the plight of the many boys of the city of Reims who were at a loose end and not receiving a proper education.  He became involved in two schools (that is, classrooms in houses) for these boys. At the same time he saw the need for the teachers themselves to be trained, and began by taking a number of them into his home.

Teaching in schools in 1680s and 1690s was very much in the pioneering stage. De La Salle in consultation with the first brothers wrote and revised continuously a manual titled Conduct of the Christian Schools which dealt with the practicalities of running a school. The Conduct is complemented by De La Salle’s vision of teaching as a Christian ministry presented in Meditations for the Time of Retreat (hereafter, the Meditations), a document composed sometime later than 1707.

Patron saint of educators of the young

De La Salle was canonised by Leo XIII (1900) and proclaimed principal patron of educators of the young by Pius XII (1950).