The Roman Catholic Church marks Wednesday, April 7, the Feast of Saint John Baptist de la Salle, the revered founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the patron saint of teachers.
Popularly known as the Father of Modern Education, St. John remains well-venerated in many parts of the world including the Philippines.
A sacred relic of the French saint, a gift from the Christian Brothers’ Institute in Rome, Italy on the Lasallian centennial in 2011, is enshrined at the Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament, at the De La Salle University on Taft Avenue, Manila.
The De La Salle Christian Brothers are members of a worldwide educational movement in about 80 countries with more than 800,000 students.
St. John Baptist de la Salle was a French Catholic priest and a pioneer in founding training colleges for teachers, reform schools for delinquents, technical schools, and schools for modern languages, arts, and sciences. His work quickly spread throughout France, and after his death on April 7, 1719, continued to spread across the world.
St. John is considered as one of the greatest thinkers and educational reformers of all time. He dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the education of poor children.
Born to a wealthy family on April 30, 1651 in Rheims, France, he was ordained priest in 1678. He was a model of piety and was admired for his immense love for the poor. The Brothers of Christian Schools (approved in 1725) became the catalyst and resource for other religious congregations dedicated to education that were founded in the 18th and 19th centuries.
St. John died on April 7, 1719 at the age of 67 and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on May 24, 1900. Because of his immense contribution to Catholic education, Pope Pius XII declared St. John as the Patron of all School Teachers in 1950. His major shrine, the Sanctuary of John Baptist de La Salle, is located in Casa Generalizia, Rome, Italy.