St. John Baptist De La Salle
St. John Baptist de la Salle was born in Rheims, France, on April 30, 1651. His parents were from the nobility. John was used to elegant living. But he was a devout boy, too. He loved Jesus and his Church. In fact, he was studying to become a priest when both his parents died. He had to leave the seminary and go home to take care of his brothers. But while he was teaching and training them, he kept on studying too. His brothers turned out to be fine young men. When their studies were completed, John Baptist was ordained a priest.
At that time, the nobles, like Father de la Salle's family, had the chance to be well educated. However, the common people remained poor and ignorant. They had no opportunity to go to school. St. John Baptist felt very sorry for the children of the poor. He decided to do something about the situation. He began to open schools for them. To provide teachers, he started a new order, the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Although Father de la Salle also taught the children himself, he spent most of his time training the teaching brothers. For them he wrote a rule of life and a book explaining the best way to teach. He was one of the best educators of all time. He believed in teaching in the language of the people, not in Latin, as others did. He grouped the students into classes. He stressed the importance of silence while the lesson was being taught.
After a while, the brothers opened more schools. They taught the sons of the working people and nobles, too. Many difficulties faced the new order. St. John Baptist's constant prayer and sacrifices blessed the work. It continued to grow and spread. Father de la Salle's health was never good. His asthma and arthritis caused him constant pain. Despite this, he would never allow himself to take on an easier lifestyle. He died on Good Friday, April 7, 1719, at the age of sixty-eight. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1900. Pope Pius XII declared him the patron of teachers in 1950.
"I adore God's manner of acting in all things in my regard."-St. John Baptist de la Salle