FEAST DAY: APRIL 7
Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, John Baptist was the eldest of 11 children in a noble French family. His studies in Paris were interrupted by his parents’ deaths; he returned to Reims, where he finished his schooling and was ordained in 1678. After settling into the comfortable life of a cathedral canon, he was challenged by a layman who had opened free schools for the poor in Rouen to do the same in Reims. This led to increasing involvement with poor children and the founding, growth and running of his order, which survived opposition and innovated classroom teaching and use of the vernacular. Canonized in 1900, he was declared the patron saint of teachers in 1950.