This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24 -- St. Francis de Sales

...or Franz von Sales, depending on who was occupying Thorens at the time.

Like a lot of brilliant Church leaders, Francis forsook wealth when he began his religious career. Unlike many, he really meant it.

Francis was born to a wealthy and powerful family, whose intention it was that he would become a lawyer, marry the woman selected for him, and continue to build the de Sales holdings. He did in fact earn his doctorate in law, but also earned a doctorate in theology. He became a Senate advocate, but soon after, he declined the arranged marriage, quit his job, and became a priest. Tough blow to the parents, but a nice break for one of the eleven other children who must have inherited the Chateau and all that goes with it.

His first bishopric was Geneva, which is pretty funny, because the Calvinists had a death grip on the place. Well, perhaps not literally a death grip -- that better describes the French Catholic efforts to keep the Calvinists out, but they were in control. So being posted there was akin to a south Pacific missionary post, except the chocolate is better but the weather is worse.

Francis was gentle and persuasive. He was innovative in his use of sign language to preach to the deaf. His success was sufficient to warrant an offer of a rich bishopric in France, a real plum gig where the money just rolled into the diocese treasury. Francis of course declined and stayed where he felt God had planted him.

Fun Fact: His heart was preserved in France as a holy relic. In order to prevent its destruction by the anti-religious zealots of the French Revolution, it was moved to Venice, Italy, where it remains today.

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