Francis de Sales

Francis de Sales

: "This article is about the Roman Catholic saint. For churches named after him, see Saint Francis de Sales church."Infobox Saint
name=Saint Francis de Sales
death_date=death date|1622|12|28|df=y
feast_day=24 January
29 January (General Roman Calendar, 1666-1969)
venerated_in=Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism

caption=Saint Francis de Sales
birth_place=Château de Thorens, Savoy
death_place=Lyon, France
titles=Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
beatified_date=8 January 1662
beatified_by=Pope Alexander VII
canonized_date=19 April 1665
canonized_by=Pope Alexander VII
attributes=Heart of Jesus, Crown of Thorns
patronage=Baker, Oregon; Cincinnati, Ohio; Catholic press; Columbus, Ohio; confessors; deaf people; educators; Upington, South Africa; Wilmington, Delaware; writers; journalists
major_shrine=Annecy, France
prayer=O love eternal, my soul needs and chooses you eternally!
Ah, come Holy Spirit, and inflame our hearts with your love!
To love -- or to die!
To die -- and to love!
To die to all other love in order to live in Jesus' love, so that we may not die eternally;
but that we may live in your eternal love, O Savior of our souls, we eternally sing, "Live, Jesus!
Jesus, I love!
Live, Jesus, whom I love!
Jesus, I love, Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever.
prayer_attrib=Treatise on the Love of God by Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales (in French, St François de Sales) (21 August 156728 December 1622) was bishop of Geneva, Switzerland and a Roman Catholic saint. He worked to convert Protestants back to Catholicism, and was an accomplished preacher. He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation (including "Introduction to the Devout Life"), and other religious subjects.

De Sales was beatified by Pope Alexander VII in 1661 and canonized by the same pontiff in 1665. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1877. [cite web | url= | title=St. Francis de Sales, Bishop, Doctor of the Church | work=Lives of Saints | publisher=EWTN | author=John J. Crawley | accessdate=2008-01-14]

Childhood and youth

Francis de Sales was born at Château de Thorens into a Savoyard noble family in what is today France. His father was François de Boisy and his mother was Françoise de Sionnz. The first of twelve children, he enjoyed a privileged education in La Roche and Annecy; his spiritual formation and academics were formed by the Jesuits (The Society of Jesus). His father only wanted him to attend the best schools. In 1578 at the age of 12 he went to the Collège de Clermont in Paris. A year later Francis was engulfed in a personal crisis when after attending a theological discussion about predestination became convinced that he was damned to Hell. In December 1586 his despair was so great that he was physically ill and even bedridden for a time. In January 1587 he visited the Church of Saint-Etienne des Grès (St. Stephen) with great difficulty. There his crisis ended, and he decided to dedicate his life to God. Francis came to the conclusion that whatever God had in store for him was good, because God is Love, as Scripture attests. This faithful devotion to the God of love not only expelled his doubts, but also influenced the rest of his life and his teachings. His way of teaching Catholic spirituality is often referred to as the Way of Divine Love, or the Devout Life (the Holy Life), taken from a book he wrote of a similar name: "Introduction to the Devout Life. "


In 1588 Francis transferred from The University of Paris in Paris to the University of Padua where he studied both law and Theology. There he made up his mind about becoming a priest. Intelligent and handsome, DeSales went through various conversion experiences that moved his heart to serve God rather than money or the world. One incident included his sword falling to the ground while riding a horse, and crossing another sword, making the sign of The Cross. DeSales took this, among other signs, that Christ was calling him to a life of sacrifice and self-giving love for The Church.


In 1592 he ended his studies with the promotion to doctor certified in both Law and Theology. He made the pilgrimage to Loreto Italy, famous for its Shrine to the Virgin Mary, before going home. At home his father had already secured a variety of positions for his son, one of which was a position on the Senate of Chambéry. It was difficult for Francis's father to accept that his son had already chosen a vocation rather than a career.

After studying the humanities, rhetoric, theology, and law at La Roche, Annecy, Paris, and Padua, he famously refused to marry the wealthy heiress his father had chosen as his bride, preferring a clerical career. The intervention of Claude de Granier, then bishop of Geneva, won him ordination and appointment as provost of the cathedral chapter of Geneva in 1593.

The Old Faith

Since the Reformation, the seat of the bishops of Geneva had been located at Annecy in Savoy, due to Calvinist control of Geneva itself. Francis, in his capacity as provost, engaged in enthusiastic campaigns of evangelism among the Protestants of Savoy, winning many returns to the Old Faith. He also traveled to Rome and Paris, where he forged alliances with Pope Clement VIII and the French King Henry IV.

St. Francis developed a sign language in order to teach a deaf man about God. Because of this, he is the patron saint of the deaf.

In 1602, Bishop Granier died, and Francis was consecrated bishop of Geneva himself. During his years as bishop, he garnished a reputation as a spellbinding preacher and something of an ascetic; in particular, he was known as a friend of the poor, a man of almost supernatural affability and understanding. These last qualities come through wonderfully in his famous books. He died on 28 December 1622 in Lyon, while he travelled in the entourage of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy.

St. Francis de Sales was beatified in 1661 by Pope Alexander VII, who then canonized him in 1665. In 1877, Blessed Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the Universal Church. The Roman Catholic Church today celebrates his feast on 24 January, the day of his burial in Annecy in 1624. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 115] From 1666, when his feast day was inserted in the General Roman Calendar, until 1969 it was observed on 29 January.

In 1923 Pope Pius XI proclaimed him a patron of writers and journalists, because of the books he wrote, the most famous of which was "Introduction à la vie dévote" ("Introduction to the Devout Life"). He also left the mystical "Traité de l' Amour de Dieu" ("Treatise on the Love of God") and many highly valued letters of spiritual direction. He was a notably clear and gracious stylist in French, Italian and Latin.

St Francis de Sales is buried at the basilica of the Visitation, Annecy. Many miracles have been reported at his shrine. The relic of his heart was kept at Lyon, whence during the French Revolution it was moved to Venice, where it is venerated today.

Along with Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Francis founded the women's Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Annecy on 6 June 1610.

The order of the Salesians of Don Bosco, founded by St John Bosco in 1859 (approved by the Holy See in 1874), is named after him. Likewise the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (OSFS), founded by Louis Brisson and the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, founded by Peter Mermier in 1830.

The island St. François is named in honor of Francis de Sales.

DeSales University, located in Center Valley, PA (formerly Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales), is named for St. Francis de Sales and is a Catholic liberal arts college administered by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.

Salesianum School, an all boys private school in Wilmington, Delaware, which is named after him, is also run by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.

François de Sales is recognized as exemplary in the Church of England, where his "memoria" is also on 24 January, and in the Church in Wales, when his memorial is moved to 23 January, due to a conflict with St Cadoc.

ee also




*"Introduction to the Devout Life (Translated and Edited by John K. Ryan)", Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 978-0-385-03009-0
*"Set Your Heart Free (Edited by John Kirvan)", Ave Maria Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59471-153-4

External links

* [ International Commission on Salesian Studies] All about St. Francis de Sales worldwide
* [ Francis de Sales bio at]
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: "St. Francis de Sales"]
* [ Founder Statue in St Peter's Basilica]


* [ "Set Your Heart Free"] 30 Days with a Great Spiritual teacher, edited by John Kirvan
* [ "Introduction To The Devout Life"]
* [ Better Translation of the book, "Introduction to the Devout Life]
* [ "Treatise on the Love of God"]
* [ "The Catholic Controversy"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Francis of Sales — [sālz] Saint (1567 1622); Fr. bishop & writer: his day is Jan. 29 …   English World dictionary

  • FRANCIS de SALES — (1567 1622) Francis de Sales, a leader in the Catholic Reformation and Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva, declared a doctor of the church and a saint, was noteworthy for his devotional writings, his concern for women s education, and his cofound… …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Francis of Sales — (1567–1622)    Saint, Bishop, Order Founder and Devotional Writer.    Francis was born in Savoy of an aristocratic family. He studied law at the Universities of Paris and Padua, but in 1593 he was ordained and he became Provost of Geneva. He… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Francis of Sales — Fran′cis of Sales′ [[t]seɪlz[/t]] fr. [[t]sal[/t]] n. big Saint, 1567–1622, French ecclesiastic and writer on theology: bishop of Geneva 1602–22 …   From formal English to slang

  • Francis of Sales — biographical name Saint 1567 1622 French R.C. bishop of Geneva …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Francis of Sales — /saylz/; Fr. /sannl/ Saint, 1567 1622, French ecclesiastic and writer on theology: bishop of Geneva 1602 22. * * * …   Universalium

  • FRANCIS OF SALES — (1567 1622)    French ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST and MYSTIC whose book Introduction to the Devout Life (1607) is a classic of Catholic SPIRITUALITY …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Francis of Sales — /seɪlz/ (say saylz), /sal/ (say sahl) noun Saint, 1567–1622, French ecclesiastic and theologian; bishop of Geneva 1602–22 …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Francis of Sales — /saylz/; Fr. /sannl/ Saint, 1567 1622, French ecclesiastic and writer on theology: bishop of Geneva 1602 22 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Francis of Sales, St. — …   Useful english dictionary

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