Francis de Sales, a leader in the Catholic Reformation and Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva, declared a doctor of the church and a saint, was noteworthy for his devotional writings, his concern for women's education, and his cofound-ing the Order of the Visitation for nuns. Born to a noble family in Savoy, Francis de Sales was educated at the Jesuit college of Clermont in Paris and the Uni­versity of Padua, Italy, in accordance with his father's wishes that he pursue law. He received a doctorate in law in 1591 and soon after received a doctorate in theology. He practiced law briefly, but then turned to a life in the church, being ordained a priest in 1593 in Annecy in his native Savoy. Annecy had been the bishop's see of Geneva since 1535, when the Protestants had expelled the bishop and the monasteries. Francis chose to take on missionary work in Chablais, a district of Savoy that had broken away for a time and turned Cal­vinist. Francis labored virtually alone for four years, slowly winning back the majority of the population to Catholicism. In 1602 he was consecrated bishop of Geneva. Two years later he met Jane Frances Fremyot de Chantal, a young widow with four children, and became her spiritual director through an extensive correspondence. Together they founded the Order of the Visitation of the Holy Mary at Annecy in 1610. A contemplative order, it was open to widows and those with health challenges who could not meet the austere ascetical practices of religious orders of the time. His devotional classic Introduction to a Devout Life (1609) emphasized that spiritual devotion was possible for the laity leading busy lives and was not restricted only to those in religious orders. This concern was repeated in Treatise on the Love of God. Francis de Sales died in 1622 and is buried at the Visitation Convent at Annecy. He was beatified in 1661 and named a doctor of the church in 1877.
Francis de Sales is best remembered for his writings on spirituality and co-founding the Visitation Order of nuns. He was named the patron saint of writers, both because of his style and because of his message that the spiritual life was for laity as well as clergy and religious. His concern for women's education reflected his recognition of the influence women had on the spiritual life of their families and associates. He stressed that women should be treated with respect and not scorn and should be taught piety. His influence was extensive and personal. He directed Angelique Arnaud, the young abbess of Port Royal, in the reform of her convent. The granddaughter of Jane de Chantal was the famous letter writer Madame de Sevigne. The Visitation Order grew to have 13 chapters by the time of Francis's death and 164 in 1767, the year Jane de Chantal was beatified.
E. Stopp, A Man to Heal Differences: Essays and Talks on St. Francis de Sales, 1997.
Elaine Kruse

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Francis of Sales — [sālz] Saint (1567 1622); Fr. bishop & writer: his day is Jan. 29 …   English World dictionary

  • Francis de Sales — This article is about the Roman Catholic saint. For churches named after him, see Saint Francis de Sales church. Infobox Saint name=Saint Francis de Sales birth date=1567 death date=death date|1622|12|28|df=y feast day=24 January 29 January… …   Wikipedia

  • Francis of Sales — (1567–1622)    Saint, Bishop, Order Founder and Devotional Writer.    Francis was born in Savoy of an aristocratic family. He studied law at the Universities of Paris and Padua, but in 1593 he was ordained and he became Provost of Geneva. He… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Francis of Sales — Fran′cis of Sales′ [[t]seɪlz[/t]] fr. [[t]sal[/t]] n. big Saint, 1567–1622, French ecclesiastic and writer on theology: bishop of Geneva 1602–22 …   From formal English to slang

  • Francis of Sales — biographical name Saint 1567 1622 French R.C. bishop of Geneva …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Francis of Sales — /saylz/; Fr. /sannl/ Saint, 1567 1622, French ecclesiastic and writer on theology: bishop of Geneva 1602 22. * * * …   Universalium

  • FRANCIS OF SALES — (1567 1622)    French ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST and MYSTIC whose book Introduction to the Devout Life (1607) is a classic of Catholic SPIRITUALITY …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Francis of Sales — /seɪlz/ (say saylz), /sal/ (say sahl) noun Saint, 1567–1622, French ecclesiastic and theologian; bishop of Geneva 1602–22 …   Australian English dictionary

  • Francis of Sales — /saylz/; Fr. /sannl/ Saint, 1567 1622, French ecclesiastic and writer on theology: bishop of Geneva 1602 22 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Francis de Sales Brunner —     Francis de Sales Brunner     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Francis de Sales Brunner     The founder of the Swiss American congregation of the Benedictines, b. 10 January, 1795, at Muemliswil, Switzerland; d. at the Convent of Schellenberg, Duchy… …   Catholic encyclopedia

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