Francis de Sales, 24 January 1622
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Francis de Sales

Francis de Sales was born in the Savoy district of France in 1567 and ordained a priest in 1593. At that time the religious and political struggles of the time had placed under the control of Roman Catholic rulers several regions in which the people were mostly Protestants.

Francis was sent to preach in one such region near his birthplace, attempting to persuade his hearers to become Roman Catholics. Since he was seen to be persuasive, he was appointed in 1602 to be Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva, a Calvinist stronghold which had been captured by the Roman Catholic Duke of Savoy.

Here again, he brought many to his way of thinking. His motto was, "He who preaches with love, preaches effectively." His numerous controversial tracts are unfailingly courteous to his opponents. Many Christians who are not at all convinced of the truth of the Romanist position by his arguments nevertheless read him with delight because of his obvious love for God and his neighbor.

By no means all of his writings were concerned with disputation. His best known and best loved treatises were concerned with the life of prayer, and were written to advise those who wish to become more aware of the presence of God in their lives. His Introduction to the Devout Life was highly praised by John Wesley. C.S. Lewis has referred to the "dewy freshness" that permeates the book. It is available in English, as is his The Love of God. Both have been used and found helpful by Christians of many different denominations.

In 1604 he met a widow, Jane Frances de Chantal (born at Dijon, 1572, died 12 December 1641), and under his influence she founded a religious order of nuns called the Order of the Visitation. Their correspondence is an outstanding example of mutual Christian encouragement and support.

Francis died at Lyons 29 December 1622. Since this date is already spoken for (Thomas a Becket), he is remembered 24 January.

written by James Kiefer


Most loving God, grant that as the Church of your Son has many members in one body, so after the teaching of your servant Francis de Sales, each may follow that path of devotion which is fitted to his calling, and by the power of your Spirit grow in holiness and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.