Saint Francis De Sales Biography & Facts
Francis de Sales (French: François de Sales; Italian: Francesco di Sales; 21 August 1567 – 28 December 1622) was a Bishop of Geneva and is revered as a saint in the Catholic Church. He became noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation. He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, particularly the Introduction to the Devout Life and the Treatise on the Love of God.
Francis de Sales was born two months premature on 21 August 1567 in the Château de Sales into the noble Sales family of the Duchy of Savoy, in what is today Thorens-Glières, Haute-Savoie, France. His father was François de Sales, Lord of Sales, and Novel, and by marriage, de Boisy. His mother was a noblewoman, Françoise de Sionnaz, the only child of the prominent magistrate, Melchior de Sionnaz, Seigneur de Vallières, de la Thuile, and de Boisy. This being one of the noblest families in Savoy, Francis' father was generally known as M. de Boisy.He was baptized Francis Bonaventura after his godparents, François de la Fléchère and Damoiselle Bonaventure de Chevron-Villette, who was also his widowed, maternal grandmother. His father wanted him, the first of his six sons, to attend the best schools in preparation for a career as a magistrate. He, therefore, enjoyed a privileged education in the nearby town of La Roche-Sur-Foron, and at the age of eight at the Capuchin college in Annecy.
Education and self-consecration
In 1578, de Sales went to the Collège de Clermont, then a Jesuit institution, to study rhetoric and humanities. On this first visit to Paris, he lived near the Église Sainte-Geneviève with his three cousins. As a nobleman, he was accompanied by his servant and by a priest tutor, Abbé Déage. To please his father, he took lessons in the gentlemanly pursuits of riding, dancing, and fencing. De Sales is described as intelligent and handsome, tall and well built with blue-grey eyes, somewhat reserved and quiet, and a welcome guest in the homes of the nobility among whom his father had connections.
In 1586 Francis de Sales attended a theological discussion about predestination, convincing him of his damnation to hell. A personal crisis of despair resulted. This conviction lasted through December 1586. His great despair made him physically ill and even bedridden for a time. Sometime in either late December or early January 1587, he visited the old parish of Saint-Étienne-des-Grès, Paris, where he prayed the "Memorare" before a famed statue of Our Lady of Good Deliverance, a Black Madonna. He consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and decided to dedicate his life to God with a vow of chastity. He then became a tertiary of the Minim Order.
De Sales ultimately concluded that God had good in store for him, because "God is love", as John's First Epistle attests. This faithful devotion to God 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, taken from a book he wrote of a similar name: Introduction to the Devout Life''.
De Sales completed his studies at Collège de Clermont and enrolled at the University of Padua in Italy, where he studied both law and theology. He was accompanied by his twelve-year-old brother, Gallois, also a student in Padua. De Sales took Antonio Possevino, a priest in the Society of Jesus, as his spiritual director.
Return to Savoy
In 1592, de Sales received his doctorate in law and theology and made up his mind to become a priest. He made a pilgrimage to Loreto, Italy, famous for its Basilica Della Santa Casa (Shrine of the Holy House) and then returned home to Savoy. As the eldest son and heir, he held the title of Seigneur de Villeroget. The Senate of Chambéry admitted him as a lawyer. Meanwhile, his father secured various positions for Francis, including an appointment as a senator. His father also chose a wealthy noble heiress as his bride. But Francis refused to marry, preferring to stay focused on his chosen path. His father initially refused to accept that Francis had chosen the priesthood rather than fulfill his expectations with a political-military career. His cousin, Canon Louis de Sales, persuaded the Bishop of Geneva, Claude de Granier, to obtain for Francis the position of provost of the cathedral chapter of Geneva, a post in the patronage of the pope. It was the highest office in the diocese; M. de Boisy yielded. After signing over to his younger brother, Louis, his title and right of succession, Francis was ordained in 1593.
Priest and provost
Because the Calvinists controlled Geneva, the bishop resided about twenty miles south, in Annecy. De Sales preached in the Cathedral of Annecy, at parish churches, and before confraternities. He was an effective speaker, his voice was deep and rich in tone, his speech somewhat slow and measured. His sermons were comparatively short and without the customary displays of erudition. He avoided controversy and focused on a particular point of duty, a specific virtue, or the correction of some vice. The cathedral chapter recommended that, although only twenty-seven years of age, the provost be named Grand Penitentiary of the diocese, with the result that de Sales found himself taking many more confessions.
In 1594, the Duke of Savoy requested the Bishop to send a missioner to Chamblais, an area that had been long held by the Swiss, and only recently returned to Savoy. The task would be both difficult and dangerous; and the most qualified for the assignment was the provost. Despite his family's objections, de Sales readily accepted. Accompanied only by his cousin, the Canon Louis, they made their base the fortress of Allinges, to which the Governor of the Province, Baron d'Hermance, insisted they return each night. Gradually they expanded their efforts, with de Sales concentrating on Thonon-les-Bains, which had become almost completely Calvinist. He also attended the Savoyard soldiers garrisoned at Allinges.They met great opposition from the Geneva ministers who accused de Sales of being a sorcerer. He moved to Thonon, where he boarded with a widow, who on one occasion hid him from some armed men. More than once he escaped death at the hands of assassins. His mother managed to send him some linen and money, which he distributed to the poor. A good deal of his religious instruction was handled individually and privately. It was at this time that Francis began writing pamphlets which were later collected and published as The Catholic Controversy. Gradually the mission began to show some small success.
In 1599 he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Geneva. In 1602, he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Henry IV of France, to negotiate the restoration of Catholic worship in Gex, a part of the diocese.... Discover the Saint Francis De Sales popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Saint Francis De Sales books.