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Paris | In the Footsteps of De La Salle | The Brothers of the Christian Schools

Rue Princesse

It was at the school for the poor on Rue Princesse that the Brothers were to find their first success in Paris. This became the Juniorate, and the primary location in Paris.

About this Location

The pastor, M. de La Chétardye, is shown here visiting the school on Rue Princesse. This man of great qualities had very strained relations with De La Salle, whom he first supported and then opposed. He had a strong tendency to meddle in the internal affairs of the Institute.

The boys were taught reading and writing in French (not Latin), and were homogeneously grouped according to ability.

Each day, the boys went to Mass at St. Sulpice in what is today the Assumption Chapel (then called La Chappelle des Allemands).

As if these innovations were not enough, he cut down on the time devoted to the afternoon "shop classes," making knitted caps, under the direction of the shrewd shop owner, M. Rafrond.

At midday, all the pupils were given a bowl of soup and the more needy also received bread for their supper.

The Juniorate at Rue Princesse

The Juniorate—a training center for younger boys interested in the Brothers' vocation—was at Rue Princesse, beginning in 1688. During the school's 18 years of operation in this slum area, the community had many exciting experiences.

Traveling To and From Reims

De La Salle sometimes went on business trips to Reims. On one occasion he became so exhausted from the long walk that he was ill upon his return to Paris. After receiving the Anointing of the Sick, he recovered and set out for Reims again. On his way there he met a criminal disguised as a priest, who was an expert in black magic. De La Salle convinced the man to go the Rue Princesse and stay there with the Brothers.

Death of Brother Henri

Sometime later, De La Salle returned to his Paris community because he learned that Brother Henri—a friend and hope for the future of the Institute—was deathly ill. When he did arrive a few days later, he was met at the Rue Princesse door with the tragic news that Brother Henri had already died and was buried.

Converting a Criminal

After the first shock, De La Salle promptly attended to the patient criminal who was living in a spare room with the community of Brothers. After some long conversations with De La Salle, the man's conversion was complete.

Boys playing during De La Salle's time

Depiction of young boys playing during the period De La Salle was establishing schools.

Final Years Here

De La Salle himself discontinued the Juniorate in 1691.

Until 1707, the Brothers lived at Rue Princesse itself. After 1707, they moved to the building that was acquired as a residence for them in the Rue de la Barouillere.