Saint Francis of Sales
Saint Francis of Sales (born 1567, died 1622) from Thorens in the Duchy of Savoy, France. He was the Bishop of Geneva that converted forty-thousand Protestants. Francis was a patient holy man that provided simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine. He is a Doctor of the Church and is called the Gentleman Saint.
First born of twelve children to an aristocratic family, father François de Sales de Boisy and mother Françoise de Sionnaz. His parents intended that he become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the powerful family line. For thirteen years, he knew he was destined to be a priest but let nobody know of his intentions. At an early age, his father sent him to the colleges of La Roche and Annecy. He began to study theology at the college of Clermont, Paris under the care of the Jesuits. Francis went to Padua to get a doctorate in law. Upon completion of schooling, he had been admitted as a lawyer before the senate of Chambéry and about to be appointed senator. Francis declared his intention of embracing the ecclesiastical life, a move his family fiercely opposed. Without knowing about it, Francis was appointed provost of his diocese, second in rank to the bishop.
Just over the mountains from where Francis lived was Switzerland, Calvinist territory during the time of the Protestant Reformation. Francis decided that he should lead an expedition to convert the Calvinists back to Catholicism. The diocese was too poor to support him and the expedition became only Francis and his cousin. For three years they had doors slammed in their faces and even rocks thrown at them. His cousin had left him and he had not made one convert. Francis' unusual patience kept him working. No one would listen to him, no one would even open their door. He wrote out his sermons and slipped them under the doors. This is the first record of religious tracts being used to communicate with people. By the time he went back home, he had converted 40,000 back to Catholicism. In 1602 at age 35, he was made bishop of the diocese of Geneva.
Collaborations with future Saints
In 1607, Francis with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded the Institute of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, for young girls and widows. During his stay in Paris, he gave sermons from the pulpit. The French citizens had declared, "Never, have such holy, such apostolic sermons been preached." He came into contact here with all the distinguished ecclesiastics of the day, and in particular with St. Vincent de Paul. His friends tried energetically to induce him to remain in France, which he declined.
December 27, 1622, he had a seizure. He received the last sacraments and made his profession of faith, repeating constantly the words: "God's will be done! Jesus, my God and my all!" He died the next day in Lyons, France at age 56.
At the time of the French Revolution, his heart was carried by the Visitation nuns from Lyons to Venice, where it is venerated today. St. Francis de Sales was beatified in 1661, and canonized by Pope Alexander VII in 1665; he was proclaimed Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX, in 1877. He is the patron saint of journalists.
- Controversies (leaflets which were scattered among the inhabitants of Le Chablais)
- Defense of the Standard of the Cross (a demonstration of the virtue)
- Introduction to the Devout Life (the soul living in the world, into the paths of devotion)
- A Treatise on the Love of God (consists of 12 books), theory of Divine love, the love of complacency and the love of benevolence, affective love which is practised in prayer, effective love- conformity to the will of God and submission to His good pleasure, teachings on how to apply practically the lessons taught therein.
- Spiritual Conferences (familiar conversations on religious virtues addressed to the sisters of the Visitation)
- A large number of very precious treatises.
The Church says "The writings of Francis de Sales, filled with celestial doctrine are a bright light in the Church, pointing out to souls an easy and safe way to arrive at the perfection of a Christian life."
- Man is the perfection of the Universe. The spirit is the perfection of man. Love is the perfection of the spirit, and charity that of love. Therefore, the love of God is the end, the perfection of the Universe.
- All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.
- Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.