Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools

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For a different Roman Catholic religious institute 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 "Bro.".


The order was founded by John Baptist 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".

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.”


"Ignorantines" ("Frères Ignorantins") is a name given to the brethren of the Christian Schools ("Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes"). In addition to the three simple vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, the brothers were 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.

The name Ignorantine was given from a clause in the rules of the order forbidding the admission of priests with a theological education. Other names applied to the order 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, and although dissolved by a decree of the National Assembly in February 1790, was recalled by Napoleon I in 1804 and formally recognized by the French government in 1808. Since then its members have 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 and have 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].



As indicated by their mission statement, the Brothers' principal activity is "human and Christian 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.

Abuse of boys[edit]

In the largest inquiry in UK legal history into institutional sexual and physical abuse in institutions that were in charge of children from 1922 to 1995, the De La Salle Brothers admitted in 2014 to the abuse of boys at the order's boys' home in Kircubbin, Northern Ireland, and issued an apology to its victims.[3]

Public hearings are due to begin in autumn 2014, with open oral testimony to finish in June 2015, and with the inquiry team reporting to the Executive by the start of 2016.[4]

Other activities[edit]

From 1882 until 1989, the Brothers ran a winery in the Napa Valley at Greystone Cellars near St. Helena, California. The operation and rights to the name were sold to Heublein, Inc. in 1989.[5] In 1981, the Institute started Christian Brothers Investment Services, an ethical or socially responsible investment service for Catholic organisations. The service attempts to use its shareholdings to influence the way the companies in which it has invested operate.[6]

Lasallian saints[edit]


External links[edit]