Doctor of the Church, patron of writers, and untiring soldier against the Reformation: we review his life and notable quotes.
From Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints:
Francis was born of noble and pious parents, near Annecy, 1566, and studied with brilliant success at Paris and Padua.
On his return from Italy he gave up the grand career which his father had marked out for him in the service of the state, and became a priest. When the Duke of Savoy had resolved to restore the Church in the Chablais, Francis offered himself for the work, and set out on foot with his Bible and breviary and one companion, his cousin Louis of Sales. It was a work of toil, privation, and danger. Every door and every heart was closed against him. He was rejected with insult and threatened with death.
But nothing could daunt or resist him, and ere long the Church burst forth into a second spring. It is stated that he converted 72,000 Calvinists.
He was then compelled by the Pope to become Coadjutor Bishop of Geneva, and succeeded to the see in 1602. At times the exceeding gentleness with which he received heretics and sinners almost scandalized his friends, and one of them said to him,
"Francis of Sales will go to Paradise, of course; but I am not so sure of the Bishop of Geneva: I am almost afraid his gentleness will play him a shrewd turn." "Ah," said the Saint, "I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity. Is not God all love? God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is a Lamb; God the Holy Ghost is a Dove—that is, gentleness itself. And are you wiser than God?"
In union with St. Jeanne de Chantal he founded at Annecy the Order of the Visitation, which soon spread over Europe.
Though poor, he refused provisions and dignities, and even the great see of Paris. He died at Avignon, 1622.
Notable Quotes of St. Francis de Sales
- Have patience with all things - but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.
- 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.
- Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.
- Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections.
- Be who you are and be that well.
- Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.
- All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers.
- While I am busy with little things, I am not required to do greater things.
- A quarrel between friends, when made up, adds a new tie to friendship.
- Those who love to be feared fear to be loved.
- Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations
St. Francis de Sales feast falls on January 29th, this year coinciding with the 4th Sunday after Epiphany.