Starts: January 15th
Feastday: January 24th
Born to a rich French family near Geneva, Switzerland in 1567, Francis was devout from an early age and blessed with deep intellect.
His father desired that he study law and enter the political world, but Francis believed God was calling him to the priesthood.
He did study law, but meanwhile he grew in mental prayer and also learned theology. At 26, after contention with his father, he was ordained a priest. Recall that this time period was in the first 75 years of the Protestant schisms from the Reformation.
The Protestant Calvinists had a stronghold in Geneva, so Francis began a mission to lead them back to the Catholic Church. For several years, he met total failure: no one gave him the time of day, let aloned listened to him to convert back to Catholicism.
Dauntless and patient, he started writing short pamphlets about the Catholic Faith and slipped them under people’s doors. These were the first tracts ever used, ironically a technique that Protestants would later adopt for their own usage.
Ultimately, somewhere between 40,000 to 70,000 Calvinists abandoned their heretical schism and returned to the Catholic Church.
Along the way, as he grew in holiness, he was ordained bishop of Geneva, and he met Jane de Chantal, later St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who founded a religious order herself.
He believed all were called to holiness, and his book, Introduction to the Devout Life, was intended for laity and clergy alike to read and profit from. It remains a bestseller to this day.
On a personal note: as a lay apologist who has especially worked with Protestants, discovering St. Francis was a humbling and inspiring experience. When I read his works, I realized all the ideas and more that I had to help Protestants become Catholic he had already thought of an written about, three hundred years prior! And he had written with greater depth, clarity, and insight than I could ever hope to do. Deo gratias.
St Francis is the patron saint of writers, journalists, the Catholic press, adult education, as well as the deaf, having developed a sign language to teach a deaf man about God so he could receive First Communion.
Intro Prayer (to be said each day)
O Blessed Francis, who in your life did excel in all virtues, especially in your love of God and of your neighbour, I earnestly ask you to take me under your immediate protection, to obtain from God my perfect conversion, and that of all sinners.
Teach me, O Father, to fix my eyes on heaven, that I may generously trample under foot every obstacle that presents itself in my way, and attain that degree of glory which you in your mercy hold out to me.
Obtain also the favour for which I now pray: (mention your request here).
Assist us O Lord, we beseech you, through the merits of St. Francis de Sales that, what our endeavours cannot obtain may be given to us by his intercession.
Concluding Prayer (to be said each day)
O God, who for the salvation of souls, did will that St. Francis de Sales should become all things to all men and women, mercifully grant that we, helped by the gentleness of his charity, guided by his teachings, and sharing in his merits, may obtain eternal happiness. This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.