St. John-Baptist de LaSalle
Name: St. John-Baptist de LaSalle
Date: 15 May
Complete dedication to what he saw as God’s will for him, dominates the life of JohnBaptist de LaSalle. Founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or ChristianBrothers, he was canonized in 1900. In 1950 Pope Pius XII named him patron ofschoolteachers.
Saint John Baptist was born of the nobility of Rheims in 1651, and after a very piousyouth was ordained a priest at the age of 27, becoming at once a Canon of the Cathedralthere. It was said that to see him at the altar was sufficient to give an unbeliever faith inthe Real Presence of Our Lord. The people would wait for him to come from the churchto consult him. His life was marked by a rule he set for himself, to maintain perfectregularity in all his duties.
He became interested in the creation of gratuitous schools for poor and abandonedchildren. He himself was invited to help in their education; and after directing theteachers for four years, decided to join them. In this he was opposed by most of the city,for whom such a life was very humiliating for a Canon of the Cathedral. His spiritualdirector, a virtuous Franciscan Minim priest, encouraged him, saying that for teachers,whose vocation is to aid the poor to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the only suitableinheritance is the poverty of the Saviour.
Saint John Baptist divested himself of the patrimonial wealth he still controlled, then tookreligious vows with his co-workers. His tender and paternal charity soon sanctified thehouse and the labors; peace reigned, and the members of the new society loved oneanother sincerely. The Institute developed and spread amid a thousand difficulties andpersecutions; these, by humiliating its members, brought down graces on them and madethe Providence of the Lord more evident.
The blessed Founder died in 1719; a religious superior said of him that “his humility wasuniversal; he never acted without taking counsel, and the opinion of others alwaysseemed better to him than his own. He listened to others in conversation, and was neverheard to say any word tending to his own advantage...” Indeed it is God who elevatesthose who take the last place for themselves, to place them among the first.