Saint Francis de Sales

Feast day January 24

Saints Stories for All Ages

Francis, the eldest of 13 children, was born into a family of nobility in France in 1567. His father sent him to study at the University of Paris. After six years, Francis was intellectually competent in many areas. Francis was also a skilled swordsman who enjoyed fencing, an expert horseman, and a superb dancer. Then Francis studied at the University of Padua and received a doctorate in civil and canon law. His father wanted him to marry, but Francis desired to be a priest. His father consented, and Francis was ordained to the priesthood in 1593.

Francis and his cousin Louis, who was also a priest, volunteered to work in Chablais, where religious wars were taking place. After four months, Louis became discouraged and left. Then Francis began to write and distribute a weekly essay, explaining some doctrines of faith. For two years, he and his friends had these essays printed. Francis preached with power and charm in simple, clear language. His gentleness and love drew many hearts to God. The majority of the Chablais inhabitants accepted the Catholic faith.

When Francis was appointed bishop of Geneva, he not only wrote for and encouraged priests, but he also took an interest in the candidates for priesthood. Francis even conducted the examinations to see if the candidates were fit for this vocation. He also trained laypeople to teach catechism. Francis often gave spiritual guidance to people.

In 1610, Francis helped Jane Frances de Chantal found the Visitation convent. He wrote a book called The Introduction to the Devout Life. It shows that everyone can grow in holiness. Among his other writings is the Treatise on the Love of God, a history of his own love for God. Francis was declared a Doctor of the Church and the patron of journalists and writers.


  • Instruct the students to bring in Catholic periodicals, newspapers, and pamphlets and to research the ministry of Catholic publishing.

  • Francis once wrote, “You can get more flies with honey than you can get with vinegar.” Have the students paraphrase this quote and then think of examples that prove it to be true.

Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio

Image credit: Saint Francis de Sales with Saing Joana Francisca De Chantal by janez Valentin Metzinger, 1753. Public Domain via Wikimedia.