Franciscan Saints

29th January

Saint Francis de Sales

Cordbearer of St. Francis

The city of Geneva in Switzerland is situated at the western end of the forty-five mile (72.42048 kilometres) lake that bears its name, near the French boarder. In the sixteenth century the Dukedom of Savoy lost this city and the province of Vaud on the north side of the lake and that of Chablis on the south side to the Calvinists of Switzerland. The duke of Savoy regained Chablis after giving up the claim to Vaud unfortunately the people of Chablis, had in the meantime become fanatical Calvinists.

Since the Calvinist domination of Chablis and its environs the bishop of Geneva lived about twenty miles from there at Annecy. On August 21st, 1567 Francis de sales was born near there in Château de Thorens.

His father was of a noble family of Savoy having the title to the Signory of Nouvelles, by inheritance and the name Boisy by marriage; his mother was Françoise de Sionnz. At baptism, St. Francis de Sales received St. Francis of Assisi and St. Bonaventure as his patron saints; and when he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Geneva he enrolled in the Archconfraternity of the Cord of St. Francis.

Not a Tertiary, but a member of the Order of Minims founded by St. Francis de Paul however in 1617 he accepted affiliation to the First Order of St. Francis from the Capuchins and must have had a close spiritual kinship with the Seraphic Saint.  Much earlier St. Francis de Sales once told the Capuchins that he had special ties to the Franciscan Order: in 1609 the holy bishop ,girded with the cord, preached a wonderful sermon and took part in the traditional procession of the archconfraternity. The Portiuncula chapel at Assisi was especially dear to him because of the great spiritual favours he received there. At Evian, on the south shore of lake Geneva St. Francis of Assisi appeared to him and said; “You desire martyrdom, just as I once longed for it. But, like me, you will not obtain it. You will have to become an instrument of your own martyrdom.”

Being the first of thirteen children, his father naturally wanted him to attend the best schools, and Francis enjoyed a privileged education in the nearby towns of La Roche-sur-Foron and Annecy. Between the age of fourteen and twenty Francis studied under the pious Abbe Deage at the University of Paris; then after studying jurisprudence at the University of Padua Francis was awarded the degree of Doctor of Law.

On his return from Padua, his father planned to make him a senator and suggested that he enter into marriage with a wealthy and beautiful woman called Franciose Suchet. Francis had made up his mind to become a priest and asked his father permission to do so. As a means for overcoming parental opposition,  his cousin Fr. Louis de Sales, obtained an apostolic bull, through Claude de Granier, who was then the  Bishop of Geneva, which conferred on Francis the Provostship, (a prelate with the rank of bishop) of the Church of St. Peter in Geneva. Thereby his father eventually, and after serious objections, gave his consent to Francis becoming a priest. He was ordained Deacon on 21st September 1593 and was ordained priest in the same year on 18th December.

Francis gave himself to the task of converting the Calvinists of Chablis back to the true faith and several times escaped death at the hands of assassins. After four years persistence Francis succeeded in returning a large number of Calvinists to the fold.

In 1599 Francis was appointed Assistant bishop of Geneva to his bishop and in 1602 he became bishop of Geneva, serving in this position for twenty years.

St. Francis began his writing career during his years as missionary to the Calvinists writing documents and pamphlets on the errors of Calvinism. His best known works are Philothea, or Introduction to a Devout life and Theotimus, a treatise on the love of God.

At Dijon, in 1604 he became acquainted with St. Jane de Chantal for whom and through whom he founded the nursing and teaching order known as Visitation Nuns.

St. Francis died at Lyons on December 28 1622 and was beatified in 1661, and canonized in 1877; and has been chosen as the special patron of catholic journalists and the Catholic Press.



“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.” St. Francis de Sales


Prayer of the church

O, God, by whose gracious will Blessed Francis, Thy confessor

and bishop, became all things unto all men for saving of their

souls: mercifully grant that, being filled withy the sweetness of

Thy love, we may, through the guidance of his counsels and by

the aid of his merits, attain unto the joys of life eternal.

Through Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth
Thee and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen



 Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed.,  The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois,

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