Monday, January 24, 2011

Saint Francis de Sales


Today is the memorial of St. Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor.

Francis was born on August 21, 1567, at the Chateau de Sales in Geneva, Switzerland to a noble family. He was a frail and delicate child, but very intelligent, humble, kind, loving, patient and gentle. He was educated in some of the best schools of that time period. At the age of thirteen, he attended the University of Paris where he studied theology. He then attended the University of Padua, where he earned his doctorate in law. His father desired that he become a lawyer and politician, but Francis desired to become a priest. In 1593, he was ordained.

The Catholic Church at this time was losing many of its parishioners to the new churches of the Protestant Reformation. Francis set out to restore Catholicism to the area around Lake Geneva known as Chablais. For three years, he trudged through the countryside, his feet frozen and bleeding, as he trampled through the snow. No one would listen to him, so he wrote out his sermons, copying them by hand in the form of leaflets, and placed them under doors. It is said that he converted 40,000 people by the time he left to return home.

In 1602, he was made Bishop of Geneva. He led and organized his diocese from his new residence at Annecy. His words of inspiration and wise counsel led many people to live out the gospel message in their lives. In 1610, he founded the Order of the Visitation with St. Jane Francis de Chantal, a good friend, with whom he shared his spiritual beliefs. Francis was overworked and often ill due to his heavy workload. However, he remained active, particularly using his talent for writing to assist him in ministering to others.

Francis died at Lyons on December 28, 1622 and was buried at Annecy on January 24. He was canonized in 1665 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877 and Patron of the Catholic Press in 1923.

Quotes From St. Francis de Sales

"Keep your heart very wide to receive in it all sorts of crosses and resignations or abnegations, for the love of Him who has received so many of them for us."

"Faithfully attend to your obligations, but know that you have no greater obligation than that of your salvation and of the saving progress of your soul on the way to true devotion."

" When you are sick, offer to Christ our Lord all your pains suffering, and your languor, and beseech Him to unite them to those He bore for you."

Prayer for Writers (taken from Saintly Support: A Prayer for Every Problem)

May the Lord guide me and all those who write for a living. Through your prayers, St. Frances de Sales, I ask for your intercession as I attempt to bring the written word to the world. Let us pray that God takes me in the palm of His hand and inspires my creativity and inspires my success. St. Francis de Sales, you understand the dedication required in this profession. Pray for God to inspire and allow ideas to flow. In His name, let my words reflect my faith for others to read. Amen.

~ Taken from Gold in the Furnace, copyright 2004, Jean M. Heimann

1 comment:

NC Sue said...

Thank you for reminding us of the memorial of St. Francis de Sales. He was a prolific writer of letters of spiritual direction, which was my first introduction to him. I'm now in formation as a Daughter of St. Francis de Sales; I've fallen in love with his spirituality.