May 16, 2016

Solemnity of Saint John Baptist de la Salle

In the Universal Church, the feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle is celebrated on April 7 as that was the day he died (most saint's feast days fall on the date of their death).  However, in the Lasallian world, de la Salle is also remembered on May 15 at the rank of a solemnity (the highest rank of a Church feast).  This is similar to the Benedictines who have two feast days for St. Benedict - March 21 and July 11, both marked as solemnities.  

Because May 15 was a Sunday this year, the Solemnity of St. John Baptist de la Salle is transferred to today, May 16, for Lasallian ministries.  de la Salle was canonized on May 24, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and declared the patron saint of teachers on May 15, 1950 by Pope Pius XII.  de la Salle's feast day in the Universal Church was on May 15 from 1900-1969 when Pope Paul VI moved it to April 7.  Since this April date would often fall during Lent, the order continued to mark his feast on May 15 in addition to April 7.  

John Baptist de la Salle was born to a wealthy family (his mother was related to Claude Moet of the Moet champagne company) on April 30, 1651 in Reims, France.  He was ordained a priest in 1678 and served as a canon (a group of priests assigned to a major cathedral or basilica) at the Reims Cathedral.  He also served as the chaplain for a group of sisters called the Sisters of the Child Jesus and was visiting their convent on March 15, 1679 when he met a man named Adrien Nyel.  Nyel was in town to establish a school for boys and asked de la Salle to help in with this work.  From here, de la Salle got involved in the school and in the formation training of the teachers.  He eventually had the teachers move into his home and they formed a community of teachers who helped revolutionize education and essentially help found Catholic education.    

de la Salle died on April 7, 1719 and the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools was formally established as a religious order by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725.  The order came to the United States in 1848 and then to Manchester in 1886, 130 years ago.  

We pray:

O God, who chose Saint John Baptist de la Salle to educate young Christians, raise up , we pray, teachers in Your Church ready to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the human and Christian formation of the young.  

Saint John Baptist de la Salle...pray for us

Live Jesus in our hearts...forever

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