top of page

St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church and a key figure in the Catholic Counter-Reformation, lived a life marked by deep spirituality, pastoral zeal, and ardent writings on the spiritual life. Born into a noble family on August 21, 1567, in the Château de Thorens in Savoy, France, he was destined for a life of privilege and influence. Yet, guided by his unwavering commitment to God, St. Francis de Sales would become a model of gentleness, compassion, and spiritual wisdom.

Francis' early education took place at La Roche-sur-Foron, and he later attended the Collège de Clermont in Paris, where he excelled in his studies. His father intended him to pursue a career in law, and eventually, Francis earned a doctorate in law from the University of Padua. Despite his success in academia, Francis felt a persistent call to the priesthood.

The turning point in Francis de Sales' life came during a spiritual crisis in 1587. He struggled with doubts about the eternal fate of his soul, experiencing deep anxiety and desolation. In prayer, he received the grace of God's love, and from that moment, he dedicated his life to God's service.

In 1593, Francis was ordained a priest, and despite his noble birth, he chose to serve in the Diocese of Geneva, which was largely Calvinist at the time. His mission was to reconcile the Catholics and Protestants in the region. This was a challenging task, given the religious tensions of the time.

Francis de Sales approached his mission with a spirit of humility, gentleness, and open dialogue. His motto was "He who preaches with love, preaches effectively," a principle that guided his pastoral approach. He engaged in countless debates and discussions, always emphasizing love and respect for the other person's convictions. His patient and kind demeanor won hearts, earning him the title "Gentleman Saint."

One of his notable accomplishments was the conversion of the city of Annecy, a stronghold of Calvinism. Through his tireless efforts and charitable outreach, he managed to win over many hearts, fostering a spirit of reconciliation and understanding.

Francis' deep spirituality and understanding of the human soul led him to write several influential works on the spiritual life. His most famous book, "Introduction to the Devout Life," became a classic guide to living a life of holiness amid the demands of daily life. In this work, he emphasized the universal call to holiness, offering practical advice for people from all walks of life.

As a bishop, Francis de Sales demonstrated a pastoral heart, visiting parishes, caring for the sick, and working to reform the clergy. He emphasized the importance of gentleness and patience in guiding souls, rejecting harsh and authoritarian approaches. His approach to evangelization was characterized by kindness, understanding, and a genuine concern for the well-being of those under his care.

St. Francis de Sales also played a crucial role in the establishment of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, alongside St. Jane Frances de Chantal. This religious order, founded in 1610, focused on a life of prayer, humility, and simplicity, welcoming women who might be considered unsuitable for the more austere monastic life.

Despite facing opposition and challenges, Francis de Sales continued his mission with great courage. His commitment to reconciliation and his dedication to spreading the Gospel won him admiration even among those who disagreed with him. His spiritual wisdom and writings were sought after by many, including St. Vincent de Paul and St. Jeanne de Chantal.

In 1622, Pope Paul V conferred the title of Doctor of the Church upon St. Francis de Sales, recognizing the theological and spiritual insights present in his writings. He is known as the "Doctor of Divine Love."

St. Francis de Sales died on December 28, 1622, in Lyon, France. His last words were, "The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you, He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with His loving arms, and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God."

St. Francis de Sales' legacy lives on in the hearts of the faithful and in the continued influence of his writings. He is remembered as a gentle and compassionate guide on the path of holiness, a true shepherd of souls who exemplified the love of Christ in every aspect of his life. His teachings continue to inspire individuals to live lives of faith, love, and devotion to God.

 

Famous Quotes

St. Francis de Sales left behind a wealth of wisdom and guidance through his writings and sermons. His compassionate and practical approach to spirituality has made his teachings timeless and widely appreciated. Here are some famous quotes attributed to St. Francis de Sales:


"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew."


"Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance."


"The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with His loving arms, and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God."


"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as real strength."


"Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily."


"Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are always with you. Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs."


"The measure of love is to love without measure."


"Kindness is to give to others happiness without ever giving them a piece of your inner sunshine."


"I tell you very plainly that I cannot tolerate impatience, either in myself or in others, or rather I endeavor not to tolerate it. As soon as I perceive it, I strive to be rid of it, and I expect others to do the same."


"Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."


"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."


"The will of God is the order of the day; in this I will live and die."


"It is not those who commit the least faults who are the most holy, but those who have the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love, who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immediately apprehensive about tripping."


"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'"

bottom of page