Posted by: fvbcdm | January 24, 2012

Feast of Saint Francis de Sales (24 Jan 2012)

There is a beautiful little city in the French Alps called Annecy; it is surrounded by the mountains; a stream flows through the town, and empties into the sparkling lake on whose shore the town is built.  January 24th is the feast of Saint Francis de Sales who was born in that beautiful part of Europe and left his mark there to a remarkable degree.

He became a priest—the great desire of his young life—and soon his holiness and qualifications to be a bishop were recognized by the Holy See.  But the local diocese was that of Geneva, which is now in Switzerland, and that city had become the headquarters of the Calvinists, the most aggressive of the Protestants during that time of the so-called Reformation.  Francis could not even enter the city of which he was the bishop because of the danger of being killed by his enemies.  So he established himself in the town of Annecy, quite close to Geneva, in the hope of soon going to Geneva to take up his duties there.  He was never able to realize that dream; the wars of religion lasted longer than his own life, and thus he spent his entire episcopal life outside his own see of Geneva in the town of Annecy.  His great talent was writing, so he used his time to write all sorts of pamphlets, booklets, tracts, and his most famous book, “Introduction to the Devout Life.”  I was impressed when I visited Annecy and noted that above the door of the house where he lived during his years there, an inscription says, not “Saint Francis de Sales lived here,” but rather “in this house Saint Francis de Sales wrote Introduction to the Devout Life,”

In Annecy, he became acquainted with a noblewoman whom we know as Saint Jane Frances de Chantal.  The two of them collaborated in the foundation of the Nuns of the Visitation for the education of girls.  That community is still flourishing; its most famous member is Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Our Divine Lord appeared and revealed the devotion to his Sacred Heart. On a hill in the town of Annecy stands the Basilica of the Visitation where these two saints are buried side by side before the main altar. 

 It is a far cry from the days of writing with pen and ink on paper.  Now, we have all sorts of electronic devices to spread whatever word the user wishes to disseminate.  Saint Francis de Sales is the patron of all Catholic journalism, and we might well pray through his intercession that the truths of our holy faith will be well served by these new means of publication so that we may have a part in the mandate of Our Lord, “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations…” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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