Today, January 24, the Church remembers Saint Francis de Sales, bishop, confessor, and Doctor of the Church. Francis, commonly known as the ‘Gentleman Saint’ or the ‘Gentle Christ of Geneva,’ spent many years preaching and defending the Faith, and guiding Protestants back to the True Faith.
Early Life and Education
Francis was born in the Duchy of Savoy, at the Château de Thorens to an aristocratic family in 1567. He was the first-born of twelve children, and his parents expected him to become a lawyer, enter into politics and carry on in the family’s tradition of prestige and power.
Francis was sent to college at an early age, attending first the colleges of La Roche and Annecy. From 1583 to 1588, Francis studied rhetoric and humanities at the college of Clermont, in Paris; it was here that he also began to study theology. Also while at Paris, Francis experienced a period of great despair, troubled by discussions of predestination and believing himself to be destined to be condemned to Hell. The experience affected him greatly and he grew ill, until he was suddenly freed from the despair upon kneeling before a miraculous image of Our Lady at St. Etienne-des-Grès. At this point, Francis knew his life would be dedicated to God.
After his studies at Paris, Francis went to Padua, where he studied law. In 1592, Francis graduated and was admitted before the senate as a lawyer. Francis was soon to be appointed as a senator when God guided his life in a different direction.
Read about the rest of the life of St. Francis here.