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Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, the famous founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or the Christian Brothers, was born in Rheims of the noble family of la Salle.

Showing signs of a rare piety from an early age, Jean-Baptiste was destined for the priesthood, which fit well with his own inclinations regarding the future. He entered the seminary in 1670 at nineteen and was ordained in 1678.

A young man of refinement and good connections, he seemed to be destined for high office in the Church. But in 1679 he met a layman, Adrian Nyel, who had the idea of starting a school for poor boys in Rheims.

The newly-ordained Fr. Jean-Baptiste became engrossed in the project and began to guide Nyel and seven schoolmasters in the high educational ideals taking shape in his own mind. He even invited the group into his paternal home to live. But there, unwilling to submit to the discipline for which they had not bargained, they took leave.

Undaunted, the reformer waited patiently. Soon, he was joined by another group of interested men. To these Fr. Jean-Baptiste imparted a new method of teaching, which revolutionized the elementary schooling of the day.

Until then, children had been taught on an individual basis. Jean-Baptiste introduced into education the classroom setting, silence during lessons, and teaching in the vernacular rather than in Latin.

Soon requests began to arrive for teachers trained in the new method. Parish priests also began to send young men to the institute to be trained as masters for their own parish schools.

In time, Fr. Jean-Baptiste formed a novitiate and a rule of religious life.

After much prayer, he also established that his teaching institute would be constituted of lay brothers and not priests. From France the Christian Brothers spread throughout Europe and the world.

In 1717 the founder resigned the headship of his institute and lived like the humblest of brothers.

Suffering from asthma and rheumatism, Fr. Jean- Baptiste gave up none of his austerities.

Early in 1719 he met with an accident which ultimately led to his death on Good Friday of that year. He was sixty-eight years of age.

The Catholic Church set her seal of approval upon the life and apostolate of this man, a reformer and innovator of primary importance in the history of education, by canonizing him in 1900.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared him patron of all school teachers.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for September 22, 2019

Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little. Remember...

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September 22

 

Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little.
Remember that he of whom you are speaking
is your brother, and as he is in the way of salvation,
God can make him a saint,
in spite of his present weakness.

St. Thomas of Villanova


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Thomas of Villanova

When the emperor discovered his secretary had written the na...

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St. Thomas of Villanova

Thomas was born in Castile, Spain in 1488. His family was not wealthy, but his father’s work as a miller allowed the family to be charitable and generous towards the poor. He was sent to school at the University of Alcala at the age of sixteen, where he threw himself enthusiastically into his studies and, ten years later, became professor of philosophy.

In 1516 he joined the Augustinian Friars at Salamanca and was ordained a priest two years later. He eventually became prior in several houses of the Augustinian Order, notably Salamanca, Burgos, and Valladolid. When Don Jorge, the Archbishop of Valencia, resigned, the emperor did not offer Thomas the see because he knew the high position would be a grievous trial for the humble friar-priest. Instead, the emperor nominated a religious of the Order of St. Jerome. However, when the emperor discovered his secretary had written the name of Brother Thomas of Villanova on the letter of nomination, he took it as a sign from God and appointed Thomas bishop. The year was 1545.

Thomas immediately began to restore the spiritual and material life of the archdiocese. He was deeply committed to the poor, established care for orphans and convinced the emperor to provide funds to organize priests for service among the converted Moors who had lapsed back into their old religion for lack of a shepherd.

Renowned for his personal charity, sanctity and austerities, Thomas was eventually consecrated archbishop. While he did not attend the sessions of the Council of Trent, he was an ardent supporter of the Reformation against the Lutheran heresy.

Thomas of Villanova died in 1555 of angina at the age of sixty-seven. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VII on November 1, 1658.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs F...

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The Power of a Picture

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. “This is a picture of Her.” The woman gasped. “I know that picture! It inspired a conversion.” She then asked excitedly, “Do you have a minute to hear the story?” 

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As Mr. Ferraz listened, he learned that the woman, Maria Vegra, had a 22-year old son who had recently passed away after three weeks in the hospital due to a fatal injury received in a car accident. While in the hospital, a priest would visit him every day to administer Holy Communion. The priest consistently offered the sacrament to the neighboring patient of Maria’s son, another young man who was also in critical condition. The young man would say, “No. I don’t believe in God.” But the priest continued to offer salvation. “Let me hear your confession and give you Holy Communion and Last Rights,” the priest said, “it will save your soul and get you to heaven.” Time after time, the young man stubbornly refused.

During the weeks of hospitalization and fruitless medical treatments, Maria had taken her son a picture of Our Lady of Fatima a friend had given her from an America Needs Fatima mailing.

She knew Our Lady’s watchful gaze would give her son peace in his last days. The day after she placed Our Lady’s picture at the foot of her son’s bed, she heard the voice of his stubborn neighbor: “please,” he said, “bring the picture closer to me. I want to look at the Lady.” 

Surprised but willing, Maria placed the picture in the middle of the two suffering men. 

After three days of letting the nearby picture of Our Lady touch his heart as he gazed into Her eyes, the suffering patient relented. “Please,” he called out, “bring me the priest. I want to receive the sacraments.”

A few days later, the young man died a Catholic. With a simple picture of Our Lady of Fatima, God touched a heart and saved a soul. 

 By Catherine Ferdinand

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“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. 

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