Life of Saint Francis de Sales, The Doctor of Charity
Doctor of Charity. Bishop and Doctor of the Church (1567-1622)
Here is a brief account of the Life of Saint Francis de Sales. In his childhood, Francis showed great interest in ecclesiastical life and received the tonsure at the age of eleven (marking his status as a cleric). After studying philosophy and theology in Paris, he traveled to Padua and was awarded doctorates in both civil and canon law.
After his ordination, Francis was made provost of the Swiss diocese of Geneva and began a lifelong mission among the predominantly Calvinist population of the diocese; he was named bishop of Geneva in 1602.
In 1609, Francis composed his famous Introduction to the Devout Life. He went ahead and founded the Order of the Visitation with Saint Jane Frances de Chantal in 1610.
In an age of fanaticism and religious controversy, Francis manifested exceptional discretion, prudence, and meekness. His letters of spiritual direction and sermons marked a turning point in spirituality for the common person.
Saint Francis de Sales died in 1622 and was canonized in 1665. He is honored as the patron of Catholic writers and publishers.
For prayer and reflection
“In holy Church, all is by love, in love, for love, and of love.”—Saint Francis de Sales
In 1876, a French priest, Blessed Louis Brisson, established a new religious community inspired by the life and spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales. Called to this work by Venerable Mary de Sales Chappuis and the Visitation nuns of Troyes, France, he named the new community “The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.” Father Brisson and Saint Leonie Aviat also founded a women’s branch of the community: The Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales.
O God, who for the salvation of souls
willed that the Bishop Saint Francis de Sales
become all things to all,
graciously grant that, following his example,
we may always display the gentleness of your charity
in the service of our neighbor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.
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