Brothers of the Christian Schools

photograph of an unidentified Brother of the Christian Schools from the book Monasteries and Religious Houses of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903, photographer unknownAlso known as

  • Christian Brothers
  • La Salle Brothers



The rule, drawn up at Rouen c.1705, was approved by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725. The society was suppressed in France in 1792, and re-established by Pope Pius VII in 1805. A superior-general, residing at Lembecq-lez-Hal, near Brussels, and twelve assistants, govern by a system of delegated visitors. The founder, struck by the pitiful ignorance of the poor, undertook the work of gratuitous elementary education. As only a religious congregation could furnish a permanent supply of educators teaching without compensation, the institute was formed of young men attracted by the religious life to take the three usual vows but not Holy Orders. They add also vows which attach them permanently to the education of the poor, specializing as catechists. To the founder is due the division into classes corresponding with the various stages of mental development. This “simultaneous method” was then a complete innovation in pedagogy. He also introduced the use of the vernacular for teaching reading, and his successors made further improvements, varying the application of their methods from time to time. Boarding schools were established, differing somewhat from the free schools. The religious, dispersed by the French Revolution and reduced to 20 active members, were restored to community life by the authorization of Napoleon, and they have continued to multiply and flourish, not without reverses, to the present time. The institute suffered its severest blow when the legislation that abolished teaching by religious in France closed 1285 establishments of the Brothers from 1904 to 1908. In that same period, however, 222 new foundations were made outside of France, in Europe and the Levant, England, Ireland, North and South America, the West Indies, Cape Colony, and Australia. Their large schools in India and China are supported by government grants. In the United States the society has flourished since 1846, and in Canada there are 66 houses. The district of New York, which is the most important, comprises 38 establishments, including Manhattan College and the De la Salle Institute.

Profiled Members

MLA Citation

  • “Brothers of the Christian Schools“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 November 2018. Web. 14 May 2021. <>