The memory of Saint François de Sales is celebrated on January 24th. Born on 21 August 1567 in Savoy, north of Annecy, François de Sales is the eldest son of François, Lord of Sales and officer in the army of the King of France François I and Françoise Sionnaz.

Baptized on August 28, 1567, his education was entrusted to a nurse for six years. He quickly learned to handle weapons and to ride horses. He studied first at the college of Plain-Château (La Roche-sur-Foron) and then at the college of Annecy. In 1577 he took communion for the first time and received Confirmation at the same time. At the age of 11, Francis asked to enter the Orders, but his family refused this request, which was then considered to be little considered...

Sent by his father to Paris to study law, he continued his studies in Italy and began to study several other disciplines including rhetoric, philosophy, theology, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Awarded a "Doctorate in Civil and Ecclesiastical Law" in Padua at the end of his studies, François de Sales returned to Savoy where his father prepared him for his situation and marriage, but he reiterated his desire to become a priest. He entered the orders on May 10, 1593, and was ordained on December 18, 1593.

After his ordination, he offered himself to the bishop to restore the inhabitants of Chablais, following Calvin's teachings, to the Catholic faith. Appointed Bishop of Geneva, residing in Annecy, he announced his programme in a speech: "It is by a charity that the walls of Geneva must be shaken down, by the charity that it must be invaded, by the charity that it must be recovered... I do not propose to your iron, nor this powder whose odour and flavour recall the infernal furnace (...). We must live according to the Christian rule, so that we may be canons, that is to say, regulars, and children of God not only in name but also in effect." He also became the spiritual father of many people, including those in power.

Of a gentle and frank temperament, François de Sales had a deep knowledge of human nature. He taught true commitment to charity and piety and demonstrated that true spiritual life is to love God. For his character and zeal for service, Don Bosco chose him as the patron saint of the congregation he founded in 1854: the Salesians.

At the time when Francis de Sales preached in Chablais, then conquered by Calvinism, the population was forbidden to listen to him. He had his teaching printed on paper, put it up everywhere in the village and distributed it to every household. He found this new method to be an effective means of communication. For this reason, the Church chose him as patron saint of journalists and writers.

Together with Saint Jeanne de Chantal, he founded the Order of the Visitation. Saint Francis de Sales died in Lyon on December 28, 1622. On January 24, 1623, his remains were transferred to Annecy, hence his memory on this date. In 1661 he was declared Blessed and Saint in 1615. Pope Pius IX raised him to the rank of Doctor of the Church in 1877.


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