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St. Francis de Sales


Name: St. Francis de Sales
Date: 29 January

Saint Francis de Sales was born in 1567 near Annecy, of noble and pious parents, and studiedwith brilliant success at Paris and Padua. On his return from Italy he gave up the grand careerwhich his father had destined for him in the service of the state, and became a priest.

When the duke of Savoy resolved to restore the shattered Church in the Chablais, Francis offeredhimself for the work and set out on foot with his Bible and breviary, accompanied by onecompanion, his cousin Louis of Sales. It was a work of toil, privation and danger. Every door andevery heart was closed against him. He was rejected with insult and threatened with death, butnothing could daunt him or resist him indefinitely. And before long the Church blossomed into asecond spring. It is said that he converted 72,000 Calvinists.

He was compelled by the Pope to become Coadjutor Bishop of Geneva, and succeeded to that seein 1602. Saint Vincent de Paul said of him, in praise of his gentleness, “How good God must be,since the bishop of Geneva, His minister, is so good!” At times the great meekness with which hereceived heretics and sinners almost scandalized his friends, and they protested when he receivedinsults in silence. One of them said to him, “Francis of Sales will go to Paradise, of course; but Iam not so sure about the Bishop of Geneva: I am almost afraid his gentleness will play him ashrewd turn!” “Ah,” said the Saint, “you would have me lose in one instant all the meekness Ihave been able to acquire by twenty years of efforts? I would rather account to God for too greatgentleness than for too great severity. God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is aLamb; God the Holy Ghost is a Dove; are you wiser than God?” When a hostile visitor said tohim one day, “If I were to strike you on the cheek, what would you do?” Saint Francis answered,with his customary humility, “Ah! I know what I should do, but I cannot be sure of what I woulddo.”

With Saint Jane Frances of Chantal, Saint Francis founded at Annecy the Order of the Visitationnuns, which soon spread over Europe. Though poor, he refused provisions and dignities, and eventhe great see of Paris. He died at Avignon in 1622.


Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints


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