Saint Francis de Sales

If you have seen this year's Extension calendar featuring patron saints you may have noticed that St. Francis de Sales is the patron chosen for January. Besides being the founder of our own Visitation Order, he is also honored as patron of authors, journalists, teachers, writers, confessors, publishers, and the deaf. It may be worth considering why he might have been chosen as patron for these various professions.

He was an appealing and successful teacher who instructed our first sisters in the ways of religious life according to his particular spirit, and also helped to reform and renew other religious communities of men and women by his gentle and tactful guidance. He regularly gathered groups of children around himself to instruct them in the catechism, and thereby enticed their parents to attend these lessons as well So high was his esteem for learning that he made efforts to establish a "holy house of faith and science", a spiritual and technical center for training new converts to become evangelists in the regions dominated by Protestants.

He was a renowned confessor, much sought-after for his enlightened spiritual direction and compassion toward sinners; he spared no efforts to bring sinners to accept the mercy of God, often humbling himself before them and making himself vulnerable to their insults. Another meaning for "confessor" is illustrated by his missionary activity - he was a persuasive and steadfast defender of the faith, never hesitating to debate leading Calvinists in public. He always defeated them - sometimes he won by default because his opponents failed to appear for a scheduled debate, thus incurring the jolly ridicule of the citizens gathered to hear them.

He wrote thousands of letters of instruction, guidance, comfort, and encouragement, in addition to his correspondence as a bishop and an unofficial diplomat employed by the Pope, the King of France and the Duke of Savoy. He was the author of The Introduction to the Devout Life, drawn from some of his letters, and The Treatise on the Love of God, a unique philosophical and theological foundation for the life of prayer and union with God. At the time of his death, he was making plans for a companion treatise on the love of neighbor.

While laboring to re-convert the Chablais from the Protestant religion imposed upon it by its rulers, he published newsletters and pamphlets to reach the people who were afraid to come to hear him preach. He wrote out instructions on the teachings of the Church to counteract the false information given by the Calvinists and then made countless copies by hand. These were distributed in secret at night so that the people could receive them and read them without fear of reprisals from their magistrates.  He regularly promoted the use of the printed word in his apostolic works and even had his own printing press which he made use of to proclaim the truth and to inform the consciences of his people.

He was one of the most popular preachers in  Europe . Although criticized (even by his own father) for his simple, concise, and down-to-earth style, he was in constant demand in large cities, rural areas, and the chapels of the nobility. Frequently he preached for missions and series of sermons during Lent and Advent, as well as for state funerals and weddings. Constantly he "preached the Word, in season and out of season", by word and example.

During one of his missions in a little town called La Roche, he encountered a deaf-mute named Martin. St. Francis de Sales took a personal interest in this man and worked out a kind of sign language as a means of communicating with him. He patiently instructed him in preparation for receiving his First Holy Communion and from then on became the man's confessor, taking him into his household as a servant.

It is no wonder that St. Francis de Sales is known for his gentleness and humility, charity and generosity, wisdom and learning, joyful self-forgetfulness and detachment from worldly values. He is a patron we can all study and confidently follow in the way of holiness.

We invite you to become better-acquainted with this gentle, eminently human saint.  An easy way to begin is by visiting one of the Visitation communities that is living out his charism in our contemporary society.

This website offers a glimpse of some places in our Mobile monastery and describes the activities engaged in by the sisters.  Who knows?  Perhaps it will speak to your soul; and perhaps the Blessed Mother will make a secret visitation to your heart and invite you to become a daughter of St. Francis de Sales.

Welcome | Honour Guard | History | Life in the Monastery | Desert Experience | Activities | Sacred Heart Chapel | Retreat House | Saints | Visitation Gift Shop | Meet the Sisters | Map to Monastery | Web Design