Saint Francis de Sales
Saint Francis de Sales was born in 1567, five years after the death of Calvin. He was ordained as the Bishop of Geneva in 1602, three days before the famous “Escalade” that marked the definitive independence of the city from Charles-Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy. Francis de Sales died in 1622 on his return from a diplomatic mission.
Francis de Sales lived during a tumultuous time on a political, religious, social and economic level and was greatly marked by the events around him.
Wars in Europe were a source of suffering, violence, and insecurity. Christians were divided and fought to impose a single model, Galileo was condemned by the Church, the small and the poor were victims of issues that were beyond them.
Amidst all this disruption there was a desperate need for a new way of living.
Francis de Sales was a trained lawyer who became a priest and bishop. He endured these crises with lucidity. The strength of his consideration, his humanitarianism, and his optimism drew on two spiritual crises of his youth. The first, the freedom of human destiny before God’s will; the second, the strong temptations of worldly pleasures in his student life.
Confused by the certainties and the attitudes that were offered to him, he had to make personal choices. He found the fundamental guideline for his life by discovering the highest level of love that he called “charity” and “devotion”. By educating the heart, which to him was the “sanctuary” of the human being, the “summit of the soul”, he created his own vision of mankind, which went beyond the acquisition of knowledge.
The power of his influence comes from the fact that he recalled the vocation of all human beings to be healthy and live with God as part of their social and family life.
His empathy drew him to people. He was called upon by the Pope, bishops, princes, and the poor to try to open new channels and overcome conflictual situations. He brought together men of high culture in the Académie Florimontane (which gave its name to Florimont) for open debates, and to offer the knowledge they offered to everybody.
His knowledge of the human heart made him an initiator, a conciliator, and a director of souls. He is known as the “Doctor of love”, the “Eagle of kindness” and the “Author of peace”.
For Saint Francis de Sales, respecting differences is essential for harmony and unity.