St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622)
Feast Day: January 24
Canonization: April 19, 1665
Patron Of Journalists, Teachers, The Deaf, Catholic Press, Catholic Writers
Centuries before Vatican II’s ‘universal call to holiness,’ St. Francis de Sales called it ‘heresy’ to say religious devotion was incompatible with the layman’s life of a soldier, tradesman, prince, or married woman.
“It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world,” he wrote in his 1609 spiritual classic The Introduction to the Devout Life.
Francis was born in 1567 to a noble family in the Kingdom of Savoy, near Geneva, Switzerland. His father envisioned a legal career for him, but Francis felt called to the Church. His father finally consented upon Francis’ heartfelt persuasiveness. He was thus ordained a priest, and later as bishop, shepherded the Diocese of Geneva.
He untiringly evangelized the Calvinist stronghold in Geneva. By preaching and distributing inspiring pamphlets on true Catholic teaching – the first known use of tracts for evangelization – it is believed the gentle-mannered Francis brought some 50,000 people back to the Catholic Church. In 1877, Pope Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the Church.