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Saint Francis de Sales

A.K.A.: Francis of Sales
Gentle Christ of Geneva
The Gentleman Saint
Franz von Sales

Born: August 21, 1567 in Chateau de Sales, Duchy of Savoy, Holy Roman Empire (part of modern France)

Died: December 28, 1622 (age 55) in Lyons, Lyonnais, Kingdom of France of Natural Causes
Buried at the Basilica of the Visitation, Annecy, France
His heart was preserved as a relic at Lyon
During the French Revelotion his heart was moved to Venice, Italy

Beatified: January 8, 1661 by Pope Alexander VII

Canonized: April 8, 1665 by Pope Alexander VII

Feast Day: January 24
January 29 (local communities and among Traditional Roman Catholics)

Patronages: Against Deafness
Catholic Press
Places: Diocese of Annecy, France
Diocese of Baker, Oregon
Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio
Diocese of Columbus, Ohio
Diocese of Houma-Theibodaux, Louisiana
Diocese of Keimoes-Upington
Diocese of Oakland, California
Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware
Champdepraz, Aosta, Italy

Representation: Bald man with a beard wearing the robes of a Bishop while holding a book, and with his heart pierced with thorns
Bald man with a beard wearing the robes of a Bishop while holding a picture of the Virgin Mary
Crown of Thorns
Heart of Jesus

Saint Francis, son of the Count de Sales, was born near Annecy in Savoy, in 1567.  Showing an early inclination for the ecclesiastical state, he received tonsure at 11 years of age.  Soon afterward, he was sent to Paris to study philosophy and theology.  He went on to the University of Padua where he was honored with a doctorate in both canon and civil law.

On his return home, with the reluctant consent of his parents who had envisioned other things for him, Francis entered the priesthood.  A little later, he took upon himself the arduous mission of Chablais, where Calvinism had obtained a stronghold.  In the midst of the most enormous difficulties, he pursued his labors with apostolic heroism, and was rewarded with the most wonderful fruits of conversion.  While engaged in this work, he received his appointment as coadjutor to the Bishop of Geneva, whom he succeeded as Bishop in 1602.

He now began to labor zealously in his diocese for the clergy and people, and extended his labors elsewhere, preaching the Lenten sermons at various places outside of the diocese.  He also composed several instructive words for the edification of the faithful.  In 1610 he founded the Order of the Visitation, with the help of the Baroness of Chantal, now Saint Jane Frances.

In the midst of his constant pastoral work, Francis found time to write the book that has made him known to succeeding ages: Introduction to a Devout Life (1609).  It shows how ordinary life can be sanctified; no problem is too small for its author: dress, entertainments, flirtations, etc.  His one concern is how to lead the reader to the love of God and the imitations of Christ.

In an age when fanaticism was the rule in controversies, Francis manifested an exceptional restraint and meekness.  His pastoral zeal which was anxious for the sanctification of the laity and the adaptation of the religious life to the new needs, marks a turning point in the history of spirituality.  He died in 1622 with the word "Jesus" on his lips, and was canonized in 1665 by Pope Alexander VII.

Prayer:  Father in heaven, You prompted Saint Francis de Sales to become all things to all for the salvation of all.  May his example inspire us to dedicated love in the service of our brothers and sisters.  Amen.