Next Wednesday we celebrate the feast day of one of the most attractive saints in the calendar. During a period when the Christians of Europe were tearing each other apart over the controversies of the Reformation St. Francis de Sales stood as a beacon of charity, tact, and courtesy.
He was born in Annecy in France in 1567. His father was not too pleased when the young Francis decided to become a priest but he eventually agreed. In 1602 he became the Bishop of Geneva, the city at the heart of the radical reformation under Calvin. He realised that he needed to preach with love as well as fervour, and his sermons are free from the usual point scoring and polemic of the period.
He also realised that holiness, as the Second Vatican Council was to teach four centuries later, was for every Christian. His little book, An Introduction to the Devout Life, showed how ordinary men and women could become saints in their everyday lives.
We live in an age which can be very dismissive, even rude, about religion and faith. We should take Francis as our example. He insisted on the truth of the gospel and the Church’s tradition, but he did so with charm and tact. May he pray for us.