1651 – 1719
Feast day—April 7
He was the founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, commonly known as the Christian Brothers. He was the oldest of 11 children from a noble, French family. John cut his studies short, when his parents died to take care of his brothers and sisters. He finally finished school and was ordained a priest in 1678. Coming from a noble family, John was named a Canon of the Reims Cathedral. As Canon, he was challenged by a layman who had established free schools for the poor in Rouen to do the same in Reims. John slowly became more and more involved with the poor children of Reims. Eventually, he would found the Christian Brothers as an Order of religious brothers dedicated to teaching the poor. He insisted that the Christian Brothers’ schools be free for all students and taught in the vernacular language of the people they served. When describing his vocation, John said God led him “in an imperceptible way and over a long period of time so that one commitment led to another in a way that I did not foresee in the beginning.” In 1950 was declared the patron saint of teachers.
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