St. Francis de Sales
Francis de Sales was born into an aristocratic family on August 21, 1567 in Thorens, France. His father sent him to the best schools. Francis received his doctorate in 1592 and became a lawyer. Confident that his son would have a distinguished law career, his father was arranging a marriage with a wealthy heiress for Francis, but Francis had long been drawn to the things of God and he announced that he would become a priest. His father refused to hear of such an idea, until the bishop of Geneva obtained the high ranking position of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva for Francis; reluctantly, Francis’ father conceded to his ordination, which took place in 1593. Francis devoted himself to his new duties and volunteered to evangelize Le Chablais which had become Calvinist due to pressure from Geneva; this was a dangerous mission, but through his kindness and perseverance, Francis won the majority of the region’s inhabitants back to the Catholic faith. He also favorably impressed Church leaders, including the pope. Francis was appointed Bishop of Geneva in 1602. As bishop, he made sure that the faithful of all ages received proper instruction in the faith and he personally visited each parish in the diocese. He founded the Visitation order of nuns with St. Jane Frances de Chantal and he was a friend of St. Vincent de Paul. Throughout his life as a priest, Francis wrote numerous devotional works aimed at helping the average person become holy; his Introduction to the Devout Life is a classic. Francis died suddenly of a stroke on December 28, 1622 in Lyons. He was canonized in 1665 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877. St. Francis de Sales feast day is January 24. He is the patron of writers and of the Catholic press.