Jean Baptiste La Salle, founder of the " Brothers of the Christian Schools," born in Rheims, April 30, 1651, died in Rouen, April 7, 1719. He was appointed a canon of the cathedral of Rheims in 1669, and the next year went to St. Sulpice, Paris, to complete his course of theology. In 1671 he was ordained priest, and forthwith resolved to devote his whole life to the improvement of the working classes. He began by obtaining a royal charter for a sisterhood already established in Rheims, destined to teach exclusively the poor children of their sex. He then engaged in founding a brotherhood devoted to the instruction of poor boys, and with a few associates opened schools in two of the parishes of Rheims. The number of these schools increased rapidly, and he united the teachers in a common residence, giving them a distinctive dress of the coarsest material, and a few simple rules to be observed by all. In order to encourage his followers to practise religious poverty, he renounced his prebend in favor of a poor priest, distributed his patrimony in alms, and thenceforward taught daily in the schools. The new brotherhood spread rapidly throughout France. In Paris the secular teachers sued him before the courts, and compelled him to leave the city.
At Rouen he purchased the establishment of St. Yon, which became the central house of the brotherhood. (See Brethren of the Christian Schools.) The canonical process of his beatification is nearly completed at Rome. He left several works, among which two have been frequently reprinted: Les regies de la bienseance et de la civilite chretiennes, and Les douze vertus d'un bon maitre.