Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

St. Francis de Sales

Early Life and Adolescence:

  • Born prematurely (August 21, 1567 at the Chateau de Sales in Savoy) and was frail most of his life, but remained very active throughout his life.
  • He was “homeschooled” by his mother until the age of 8 years old.
  • At the age of 8 years old, he was sent to the College of Annecy (received First Holy Communion and one year later Confirmation).
  • At the age of 14, he was sent to study at the University of Paris (one of the great universities of the time with 54 colleges).
  • He chose the College de Clermont (Overseen by the Jesuits and was for men having the vocation to the priesthood).
  • While in this college, he was known to be a great student in the disciplines of rhetoric, philosophy, and theology.

Adult Life:

  • At the age of 24, he took his final degree and was a doctor of law at Padua (Italy).
  • Had a desire in his heart to become a priest. His Mother supported him; his Father did not at first, but eventually consented.
  • On December 18, 1593, he was ordained a priest.
  • First mission as a priest was to win back the people of Chablais on the south shore of Lake Geneva (their faith was outrageously poor).
  • He wrote ‘Controversies’ – a volume of little papers that he sent to the people he ministered to about the faith. They were written under great stress and difficultly because reaching the minds and hearts of the people proved to be challenging.
  • He suffered greatly, was beaten, and attacked by wolves, but remained steadfast in his love for the Lord and his work as a priest.
  • Through his hardships, eventually lapse Catholics (today’s term – Fall Away Catholics) began to return to the Church and received reconciliation.
  • His Bishop visited one time and was impressed with the hearts of the people and saw the great fruit that Francis was cultivating.

Bishop of Geneva and Later Life:

  • Was elevated to the Episcopacy in 1602
  • As Bishop, he developed a catechesis program (after his death the catechesis became known as “Bishop’s Catechisms”).
  • He was very generous and had great devotion.
  • The children of Geneva loved him dearly and followed him around.
  • He dealt with souls with gentleness, care, compassion, charity, and humility. A famous quote of his – “Bring me souls…away with the rest.”
  • He influenced St. Jane Francis de Chantal to open the Order of the Visitation.
  • Introduction to the Devout Life was his greatest book that stemmed from his instruction and advice to a cousin of his by marriage. The text was published in 1608 and became, and still is today, a spiritual work of art.
  • As he progressed in age, his health became more and more frail, even though many people wanted to meet him and speak with him on a daily basis.
  • He died on the feast of the Holy Innocents as people gathered around his deathbed praying the litany for dying. He died at the age of 56 years old.

After Death:

  • Entered Eternal Glory on 1623 (Last word from this lips – “Jesus”)
  • Was Beatified in 1662 (St. Peter’s in Rome; first solemn beatification to happen there)
  • Canonized as a universal saint of the Church in 1665
  • He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877 by Pope Pius XI and name Patron of Journalists

To read his some of his words, please read the following Mondays with Mary posts on the Assumption of Mary, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,

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