Brethren Of The Christian Schools, an order established at Rheims by the abbe de La Salle in 1679, and sanctioned by Benedict XIII. in 1725, six years after the death of the founder. The object of the order was to provide instruction for the poorer classes. The members take upon themselves the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. These vows are first taken for three years only, and then renewed for life by those who desire to remain in the order. Their costume is a coarse black cassock, and a small collar or band around the neck, for the house, and a hooded cloak and a wide hat for outdoor purposes. Their diet is of the simplest kind. Their teaching is mainly rudimentary, although in some of their schools Latin and the higher mathematics form part of the course. Priests may be admitted to the order, but no member may become a priest, and lest they should aspire to that dignity, the brethren are forbidden to study Latin until reaching the age of 30. In 1688 the order was introduced into Paris. In 1792 they refused to take the oath to the civil constitution, and were driven from their houses and debarred the exercise of their functions.

At the peace of 1801 they returned to their schools, and soon spread themselves again over France, whence they extended into Italy, Corsica, Cayenne, Belgium, and Algiers. In 1830, in the revolution of July, the persecution which fell upon the Jesuits also visited them. The aid of government was withdrawn. At that epoch they opened evening schools for adults, wherein they received and taught mechanics and laborers who had no time to devote to learning in the day. The chief house of the congregation is at Paris, rue Oudinot, and has generally from 400 to 500 brethren. In 1868 the congregation had upward of 10,000 brethren, and instructed in France alone more than 300,000 pupils. In the United States in the same year 323 brethren instructed about 15,000 pupils. Besides the Brethren of the Christian Schools founded by La Salle, there are a number of other Roman Catholic congregations devoted to the cause of education. (See School Beothees AND SlSTERS, CONGREGATIONS OF).