Feast day: January 24
Saint Francis de Sales was bishop of Geneva, Switzerland, and was named a Doctor of the Church. Saint Francis lived a simple life and had a deep love for the poor and the sick. He was well known for his preaching, his writing, and his ministry. His book Introduction to the Devout Life is a spiritual classic. This book was unusual for the time, because in it Saint Francis stressed that everyone is called to live a holy life, not just priests and members of religious communities.
He was one of the first leaders of the Church to recommend prayer and the spiritual life to the laity. Saint Francis de Sales’s simple approach to prayer and the spiritual life attracted many followers. He became the spiritual director of a young widow, Jane Frances de Chantal, and helped her found the Institute of the Visitation of Holy Mary for women who felt called to religious life but who would have been denied entrance to stricter orders due to their age or their health. The Church later also declared Jane Frances de Chantal a saint.
Several religious congregations have taken Saint Francis de Sales as their patron, including the Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales, the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales, the Salesians of Don Bosco, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth [Saint Mary’s Press])
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