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About St. Francis de Sales

Portrait of St. Francis de Sales Francis de Sales was born at Château de Thorens into a Savoyard noble family in what is today Thorens-Glières, Haute-Savoie, France. His father was François de Boisy and his mother was Françoise de Sionnz. The first of twelve children, he enjoyed a privileged education in La Roche and Annecy; his spiritual formation and academics were formed by the Jesuits (The Society of Jesus). His father only wanted him to attend the best schools. In 1578, at the age of 12 he went to the Collège de Clermont in Paris. A year later Francis was engulfed in a personal crisis when, after attending a theological discussion about predestination, he became convinced that he was damned to Hell. In December 1586 his despair was so great that he was physically ill and even bedridden for a time. In January 1587, he visited the Church of Saint-Etienne des Grès (St. Stephen) with great difficulty. There his crisis ended, and he decided to dedicate his life to God. Francis came to the conclusion that whatever God had in store for him was good, because God is Love, as Scripture attests. This faithful devotion to the God of love not only expelled his doubts, but also influenced the rest of his life and his teachings. His way of teaching Catholic spirituality is often referred to as the Way of Divine Love, or the Devout Life (the Holy Life), taken from a book he wrote of a similar name: Introduction to the Devout Life.

Along with Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Francis founded the women's Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Annecy on 6 June 1610. The order of the Salesians of Don Bosco (s.d.b.), founded by St John Bosco in 1859 (approved by the Holy See in 1874), is named after him, as are the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (o.s.f.s.), founded by Louis Brisson, and the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, founded by Peter Mermier in 1830. The Paulist Fathers also count him as one of their patrons. The island St. François is named in honor of Francis de Sales. DeSales University, located in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, (formerly Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales), is named for St. Francis de Sales. It is a Catholic liberal arts college administered by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. Salesianum School, an all boys private school in Wilmington, Delaware, which is named after him, is also run by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. Also named in his honor, Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Georgia was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1876. St Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Ct is also named after St Francis de Sales. Saint Francis de Sales is recognized as an exemplary in the Church of England, where his memoria is also observed on January 24, and in the Church in Wales, when his memorial is moved to January 23, due to a conflict with St Cadoc.