St. Francis De Sales (1567- 1622)

In 13 History on 2011/05/09 at 9:54 AM

Francis belonged to an aristocratic family. He learned rhetoric and humanities from the  Jesuits.  Originally a  lawyer, Francis followed God’s call.

Pope Clement prophetically said to Francis: “Drink, my son from your cistern, and from your living wellspring; may your waters issue forth, and may they become public fountains where the world may quench its thirst.”

In 1594 he volunteered to evangelize in Geneva where the Reformed Faith had been imposed. Risking his life, he journeyed through the canton, preaching constantly and by his zeal, learning, kindness and holiness people responded. He confuted the preachers sent by Geneva to oppose him; he converted prominent Calvinists.

Pope Clement VIII requested that Francis interview Theodore Beza, the Patriarch of the Reformation. Beza received him well and was moved but could not take the final step while a large part of his followers returned to the Church.

Whereas   the 35 year old Bishop of Geneva could not enter his episcopal city because of the Calvinist establishment, years later he was able to report that virtually all the surrounding areas had returned to the Faith.

This quiet and gentle but ceaseless worker visited the parishes scattered through the rugged mountains of his diocese. His goodness, patience and mildness were admired by all.

Francis ate only plain food, dressed and lived simply in order to provide for the needy for whom he had a special love. He heard confessions, gave advice, and preached incessantly.

He and St. Jane Frances de Chantal founded the Institute of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to care for young girls and widows.

Francis died at age 56 with his last words being: “God’s will be done! Jesus, my God and my all!”

Only God knows when he found time to write innumerable letters of guidance and  to published a great variety of spiritual works, the most famous of which is “An Introduction to the Devout Life”.  It is considered a masterpiece of psychology, practical morality, and common sense.  Immediate upon publication, it was translated into numerous languages and is still a sought after work in modern times, being considered one of the most effective and beloved guides to personal spiritual growth ever written.

Some of his other works include: “Controversies”, “Defense of the Standard of the Cross”, “Treatise on the Love of God”, “Spiritual Conferences”,“Sermons”.

Pope Pius IX proclaimed him Doctor of the Church and termed him “Master and Restorer of Sacred Eloquence”.


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