St. Francis de Sales Church at 601 15th. Ave. North, Moorhead, MN 56560 US - Biography

Biography

St. Francis de Sales, 1567 - 1622 A.D.
Francis was born near Annency, France, in the Year of Our Lord 1567. His entire childhood was filled with studying, and it was thought that he was a bookworm. He progressed with his studies with apparent success at Paris and Padua, eventually becoming a lawyer. His father had a grand career planned for him in the service of the State, but Francis had other ideas. His vocation was to become a priest, but he did not dare to tell his father until he was 26 years of age.

Francis offered himself to the service of the Duke of Savoy when he learned of the Duke's resolve to restore the faith in Chabais, France. Francis, along with his cousin, Louis of Sales, set out on foot with bibles in hand. The two encountered much resistance and hatred, and they were even threatened with the possibility of death. Being persistent they prevailed. It is said that Francis converted thousands of people practicing Calvinism back to God by his preaching and kindness. Because of his many efforts, Pope Clement VIII appointed Francis the Coadjutor Bishop of Geneva in 1602.

Francis dealt with sinners and heretics with extreme tenderness, which often scandalized his associates. One friend supposedly chided him, saying, "Francis of Sales will go to Paradise, of course, but I am not so sure of the Bishop of Geneva. I am almost afraid his gentleness will play him a shrewd turn." "Ah," said Francis, "I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity. Is not God all love? God the Father is the Father of Mercy; God the Son is a Lamb; God the Holy Ghost is a Dove, that is gentleness itself. And are you wiser than God?"

In another situation Francis was supposed to have said: "You will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar. Were there anything better or fairer on earth than gentleness, Jesus Christ would have taught us; and yet he has given us only two lessons to learn of Him--meekness and humility of heart."

Francis was a prolific writer, and two of his works, The Introduction to the Devout Life, and, Treatise on the Love of God, are still widely read today.

He founded, with St. Jane Frances of Chantal, the Order of the Visitation, which spread over Europe. Francis died at Avignon, France, in 1622 at the age of 55.

Francis of Sales was canonized to sainthood in the Year of Our Lord 1665. His feast day is celebrated on January 29.

Because of his love for writing, he is considered the patron saint of writers and journalists.

Next time you pass by our statue of St. Francis, take a close look at the gentle but serious expression... perhaps you will be inspired to see a bit of the man St. Vincent de Paul declared, "...I felt him to be so admirable that I could only see the person who most nearly reproduced the Son of God living on earth."
 
Sources:
Francois de Sales by Michael de la Bodoyere
Lives of the Saints compiled from "Butler's Lives" and other approved sources, published by Benziger Brothers
Picture Book of Saints by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D.

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