Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools

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For a different Roman Catholic religious institute also commonly known as "Christian Brothers", see Congregation of Christian Brothers.
Brothers of the Christian Schools
John baptist de la salle 1.jpg
St. John Baptist de la Salle (also: Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle), (1651–1719), Founder
Abbreviation F.S.C.
Motto "Signum fidei" Latin, ("Sign of faith")[1]
Type religious teaching congregation
Headquarters Generalate of the Brothers of the Christian Schools
Superior General

Bro. Robert Schieler, F.S.C.

Key people
St. John Baptist de La Salle – founder

"The Brothers of the Christian Schools" (also known as the "Christian Brothers", the "Lasallian Brothers", the "French Christian Brothers", or the "De La Salle Brothers"; French: "Frères des écoles chrétiennes"; Latin: "Fratres Scholarum Christianarum") is a Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation, founded in France by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle (1651–1719), and now based in Rome, Italy. The Brothers use the post-nominal abbreviation of "F.S.C." to denote their membership of the order, and use the honorific title of "Brother", abbreviated "Br.".

The order[edit]

Mission statement[edit]

De La Salle said: "The spirit of this Institute is first, a spirit of faith, which should induce those who compose it not to look upon anything but with the eyes of faith, not to do anything but in view of God, and to attribute all to God." (Rule 1718). He also said that “To touch the hearts of your students and to inspire them with the Christian spirit is the greatest miracle you could perform, and the one that God asks of you, since this is the purpose of your work.”

The Brothers' Rule states that the mission of the Institute is “to provide a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor, according to the ministry entrusted to them by the church.”

Requirements on members[edit]

Members of the order take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and are required to give their services without any remuneration and to wear a special habit of coarse black material, consisting of a cassock, a hooded cloak with hanging sleeves and a broad-brimmed hat. A clause in its rules forbids the admission of priests with a theological education, which gave rise to the nickname "Ignorantines" ("Frères Ignorantins").


The order was founded by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, a French priest from a wealthy family. He spent his life on teaching poor children in parish charity schools, and was canonized as a saint on May 15, 1900. In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared him to be the "Special Patron of All Teachers of Youth in the Catholic Church".

Informal names that have been used for the order, in addition to "Ignorantines", are "Frères de Saint-Yon", from the house at Rouen in France, which was their headquarters from 1705 until 1770, "Frères a quatre bras", from their hanging sleeves, and "Frères Fouetteurs", from their former use of the whip (fouet) in punishments.

The order, approved by Pope Benedict XIII in 1724, rapidly spread over France. It was dissolved by a decree of the National Assembly set up after the French revolution in February 1790, but recalled by Napoleon I in 1804 and formally recognized by the French government in 1808. Since then its members penetrated into nearly every country of Europe, and into America, Asia and Africa. They numbered about 14,000 members at the beginning of the 20th century running over 2000 schools. The "De La Salle Christian Brothers" are the largest Roman Catholic lay religious order of men exclusively devoted to education[citation needed].



In accordance with their mission statement "to provide a human and Christian education ... especially [to] the poor" the Brothers' principal activity is education, especially of the poor.

As of 2014 the Institute conducted educational work in 80 different countries, in both developed and developing nations, with more than 800,000 students enrolled in its educational works.

Sexual abuse of boys[edit]

In the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, the largest inquiry of its type in UK legal history into institutional sexual and physical abuse in Northern Ireland institutions that were in charge of children from 1922 to 1995,[3] the De La Salle Brothers admitted in 2014 to the abuse of boys at the former De La Salle Boys' Home, Rubane House, in Kircubbin, County Down, Northern Ireland, and issued an apology to its victims.[4][5]

The Inquiry's first public hearings were held from January to May 2014, and continued from 1 September 2014 at Banbridge courthouse,[6] with open oral testimony to finish in June 2015, and with the inquiry team reporting to the Executive by the start of 2016.[3] The third part of the hearings, investigation of the De La Salle Boys' Home in Kircubbin, started on 29 September 2014. Evidence called and transcripts were posted on the NIHIAI Web site.[7]

Other activities[edit]

In 1882 the Brothers started a winery in the Napa Valley at Greystone Cellars near St. Helena, California; it was sold to Heublein, Inc. in 1989.[8]

In 1981, the Institute started Christian Brothers Investment Services, which says it is a responsible investing service exclusively for Catholic organisations, and that it "encourage[s] companies to improve policies and practices through active ownership".[9]

Lasallian saints[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]