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St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Father Louis Brisson (1817—1908) soon beatified
Sister Leonie Frances de Sales Aviat (1844 –1914)
Birth of the Congregation in France
Spreading from France to South Africa
What does our History mean to us Today?
   
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
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His life

The tumultuous years in France after the Protestant Reformation as well as the “Renaissance” and Humanism formed the background for Francis de Sales. He was born August 21, 1567, into a family of nobility of what was then the Kingdom of Savoy, which bordered France, Italy and Switzerland.

To the great disappointment of his father, Francis gave up a promising civil career to follow his calling to the priesthood. Francis was ordained Bishop of Geneva in 1602, but resided in Annecy (now part of modern-day France) because Geneva was under Calvinist control and therefore closed to him.
 
Francis' fame as a spiritual director and writer grew. He published these letters in 1609 under the title “Introduction to the Devout Life”. This work would become his most famous, but Francis' special project was the writing of “A Treatise of the Love of God”, published in 1616.

Francis collaborated with Saint Jane de Chantal in founding the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary in the year 1610.  He died exhausted in Lyons at the age of 55 and was declared Doctor of the Church in 1877.

His spirituality

Above all, Francis inspires us a fervent love of God, of the neighbour and of creation, and leads each one in his individual search for holiness. According to Francis, accepting and loving God’s will in the “present moment”, doing ordinary things extraordinarily, leads to a life in union with God. This privileged way is summed up in a small booklet called “Spiritual Directory for Daily Actions”. Its faithful and loving practice leads to “Live Jesus”, to trace the image of Christ in us and in those we meet.

The virtues of gentleness, joy, humility, charity, optimism and hope characterise his spirituality.