IGNORANTINES (Freres Ignorantins), a name given to the Brethren of the Christian Schools (Freres des Ecoles Chretiennes) , a religious fraternity founded at Reims in 1680, and formally organized in 1683, by the priest Jean Baptiste de la Salle, for the purpose of affording a free education, especially in religion, to the children of the poor. 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 broadbrimmed 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 popular names applied to the order are Freres de Saint-Yon, from the house at Rouen, which was their headquarters from 1705 till 1770, Freres <J quatre bras, from their hanging sleeves, and Freres Fouelleurs, from their former use of the whip (jouet) in punishments. The order, approved by Pope Benedict XIII. in 1724, rapidly spread over France, and although dissolved by the National Assembly's decree 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 number about 14,000 members and have over 2000 schools, and are the strongest Roman Catholic male order. Though not officially connected with the Jesuits, their organization and discipline are very similar.

See J. B. Blain, La Vie du venerable J. B. de la Salle (Versailles, 1887).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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