Francis of Sales

Francis of Sales (1567-1622) was a counter-Reformation leader. Born in Savoy of aristocratic family, he read law at Paris and Padua, but soon abandoned legal studies for Theology, and became Priest in 1593.

As missioner among the Calvinists of the Chablais (an arduous and dangerous project), he is credited with 8,000 conversions in two years. In 1599 he was appointed bishop-coadjutor of Geneva, succeeding to the See three years later. With Jane Frances De Chantal he founded the Visitation Order in 1610. Francis achieved considerable success in his campaign to win the erring Swiss back to the Roman fold. An indefatigable worker, he organized clergy conferences and there insisted on simple teaching and Preaching. “Love alone,” he declared, “will shake the walls of Geneva.” He established a seminary at Annecy, near his birthplace.

Among his writings is the classic Introduction to the Devout Life (1608). Canonized in the mid- seventeenth century and declared a Doctor of the Church in the nineteenth, Francis was made patron Saint of Roman Catholic journalists in 1923.