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Rome: Sanctuary of St John Baptist de La Salle (Santuario di San Giovanni Battista de La Salle)

About Saint John Baptist de La Salle:

Born at Reims, France on April 30, 1651 John Baptist de La Salle was named Canon of the Reims Cathedral at sixteen. Though he had to assume the administration of family affairs after his parents died, he completed his theological studies and was ordained a priest on April 9, 1678.  Two years later he received a doctorate in theology. Meanwhile he became  involved in an effort to establish schools for poor boys, most of whom at that time, were barely literate.

During the time in which he lived, only a few families could afford to send their children to school..and there was no public education system.  Moved by the plight of the poor who seemed so “far from salvation” either in this world or the next, he determined to put his own talents and advanced education at the service of the children “often left to themselves and badly brought up.”

To be more effective, he abandoned his family home, moved in with the teachers, renounced his position as Canon and his wealth, and formed the community formed the community that became known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools.  In 1705 he purchased a large house that became not only a boarding school but his home in later life.

Painting of John Baptist de LaSalleHe faced opposition from the ecclesiastical authorities of the time, who resisted the creation of a new form of religious life, a community of consecrated laymen to conduct gratuitous schools”together and by association. The educational establishment resented his innovative methods and his insistence on gratuity for all, regardless of whether they could afford to pay.

Nevertheless De La Salle founded the Brothers of Christian Schools,  and along with his Brothers succeeded in creating a network of quality schools throughout France that featured instruction in the vernacular, students grouped according to ability and achievement, integration of religious instruction with secular subjects, well-prepared teachers with a sense of vocation and mission, and the involvement of parents.

In addition, De La Salle pioneered in programs for training lay teachers, Sunday courses for working young men, and one of the first institutions in France for the care of delinquents.

John Baptist de La Salle was a pioneer in founding training colleges for teachers, reform schools for delinquents, technical schools, and secondary schools for modern languages, arts, and sciences. His work quickly spread through France and, after his death, continued to spread across the globe.

In 1900 John Baptist de La Salle was declared a Saint.  In 1950, because of his life and inspirational writings, he was made Patron Saint of all those who work in the field of education. John Baptist de La Salle inspired others how to teach and care for young people, how to meet failure and frailty with compassion, how to affirm, strengthen and heal. At the present time there are De La Salle schools in 79 different countries around the globe.

John Baptist de La Salle died on Good Friday morning, April 7, 1719 in the Rouen suburb of St. Yon.

Pope Leo XIII canonized John Baptist de La Salle a Saint in 1900, and Pope Pius XII proclaimed him Principal Patron Saint of Teachers and Students in 1950.

La Salle’s work left a lasting legacy, La Salle is present in 80 countries with schools and universities including over 100 Lasallian educational institutions in the U.S. alone.

We celebrate the Feast of Saint John Baptist de La Salle in the General Roman Calendar on May 15.  The order celebrates his Feast Day on April 7, the day of his death.


About the Sanctuary of Saint John Baptist de La Salle (Santuario di San Giovanni Battista de La Salle):

Santuario di San Giovanni Battista de La Salle is the chapel of the General Curia (the headquarters of the religious institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools), founded by Saint John Baptist de La Salle.  The first convent in Rome was attached to a school near the Spanish Steps, and was opened in 1885. It was later replaced when the Brothers of Christian Schools founded a new school at Annunciazione della Villa Flaminia which became the Italian provincial headquarters.

Relics of St John Baptist de LaSalle in Rome
Relics of Saint John Baptist de LaSalle

The Brothers also decided to build a vast new convent in the Aurelio as its Generalate or world headquarters. Papal policy at the time was to encourage all international religious congregations to establish their headquarters in Rome, and most did. The architect was Tullio Passarelli, and the project was completed in 1939. The relics of St John Baptist were then transferred to the new chapel, where they remain.

At the end of the 20th century, the Brothers were struggling to justify the maintenance of such a large establishment, and partly in response converted part of it into a pilgrim hotel, the Casa La Salle.

Finding the Sanctuary of Saint John Baptist de La Salle in Rome:

The Sanctuary is locate just north of the Val Cannuta in the Aurelio quarter of Rome.

Address:  Via Aurelia, 472, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

Tel: +39 06 666981

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