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This article provides an accessible orientation to the seventeenth-century France in which the Lasallian Educational Movement had its origins. Careful introductions are given to the vocabulary, influential persons and sociopolitical movements of the time and place in which John Baptist de La Salle and the first De La Salle Christian Brothers found what is now known as an international body of ministries responding to the needs of poor children and their communities. The era was characterized by rapid changes in relations between church, state, economies and social classes. In this context, De La Salle, a Canon and a member of the bourgeoisie, is moved to establish an order of consecrated laymen who respond to the needs of the poor by providing a human and Christian education gratuitously to sons of artisans and the poor living in urban areas. This examination of his life and times illuminates the apparent paradox of this pragmatic and radical endeavor.
Authors: Yves Poutet, FSC, and Jean Pungier, FSC
Translated from French by Edwin McCarthy, FSC
Publisher: AXIS Digital Journal