St. Francis de Sales

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Joined July 2017

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Artist's Description

St. Francis de Sales was born to a noble family in France in 1567. From an early age, he desired to serve God and knew for years he had a vocation to the priesthood. His father wanted him to pursue a career in law and politics. Francis attended the University of Paris, and later the University of Padua where he received his doctorate in law.

However, God made His will clear one day while Francis was riding hid horse. Three times he fell from his horse, and every time his sword fell out as well, creating a cross shape with the scabbard. Francis knew his calling, and despite the disapproval from his father, went on to become ordained a priest. By 1593, he was named the Bishop of a small town near of Geneva.

Francis lived near a city which had been converted to Calvinism during the time of the Protestant Reformation. He decided to start his mission, traveling along the countryside to visit the homes of those who had converted away from the Catholic faith and bring them back to God. This was no easy task, and he was met with bitterness and hatred, but continued on. He eventually turned to writing pamphlets that explained true Catholic doctrine and slipped them under the doors of the homes.

By the time Francis returned home, it is believed he brought 40,000 people to the Catholic Church.

His great works helped him grow in alliance with Pope Clement VIII and Henry IV of France, who asked that he give the Lenten sermons at the Royal Chapel. In 1602, Francis was consecrated Bishop of Geneva.

In Dijon, Francis met a widow who had been closely listening to his sermon, her name was Jane de Chantal. After years of working with Jane, Francis decided to form a new religious community – The Order of Visitation. He was very busy during his life, but always found time to fulfill his priestly duties, one of the greatest he believed was spiritual direction, which he gave to most people through letters.

Francis laid the groundwork for the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on what is now called the universal call to holiness. It reaffirms the teaching of Jesus and the early Church that every Baptized Christian is called to sanctity, no matter what their career or state in life. In every career and state in life, Christians can become more and more like Jesus Christ. That is, after all, what holiness really means.

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