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St. Francis de Sales - January 29

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Comments of Prof. Plinio:

By giving us the Saints as examples, the Catholic Church destroys – without entering into controversies – the notion of the supposed ignorance of those who follow the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

francis de sales
Among these Saints we find, in fact, many who dedicated their lives to humble work and disparaged education in order to cultivate the only true wisdom, which is the love of God. However, alongside them stand – in no smaller numbers – kings, queens, nobles and great scholars who remind us by the irrefutable force of the facts that to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ demands nothing more than a generous will.

Social rank and scholarship are the two weak points that the incredulous image exist for the diffusion of the Church. The Church answers with lives of her Saints, such as that of St. Francis de Sales, who united the nobility of his family to a privileged education acquired in the best educational institutions of France.

St. Francis, born into the noble Sales family of the Duchy of Savoy, was sent by his father to Paris to study. However, his mother feared for the virtue of her son alone in a large city. When she bid him farewell, she insistently recommended him to frequent the Sacraments and told him that she would rather see him dead than to learn that he had committed a mortal sin.

St. Francis rapidly progressed in the studies; he was admired by his professors and colleagues for his intelligence as well the virtue he practiced amid so many dangers, often receiving the Sacraments.

Our Lord desired many things from St. Francis and, for this reason, He sent him a period of complete spiritual dryness that came from the idea that he was predestined to Hell despite any effort he would make to save himself.

our lady of deliverance

Our Lady of Deliverance (the Black Madonna)

Obsessed by this idea, one day St. Francis, in near despair, knelt before the feet of a statue of Our Lady of Deliverance at the Church of Saint-Étienne-des-Grès in Paris. Weeping, he said the prayer of St. Bernard – the Memorare – adding this ending: “O my Mistress and Queen, be my intercessor before Thy Son, for I shall never see Him if it is my misfortune to not love God in the next life. Most Beloved Lady, at least give me the grace to love Him as much as possible while I am here.”

From that day on the temptation completely ceased. Our Lord heard the beautiful prayer of St. Francis, who delivered himself entirely to God’s will to the point of offering without hesitation to love and serve Him in this world without any reward in the next.

When his studies had ended, St. Francis was ordained a priest, against the wishes of his father who desired a political career for his son. The Pope named him provost of the Cathedral hapter of Geneva, a city at the center of the Calvinist heresy.

St. Francis engaged in zealous campaigns there in his efforts to destroy that branch of the Protestant heresy. He brought 72,000 Calvinists back to the Catholic Church. In 1602 the Bishop of Geneva died and the Diocese passed to his hands; he visited every part of it exhorting the faithful to persevere in the Faith and showing the heretics their errors.

He directed the Diocese for 22 years, overcoming the many ambushes the Calvinists were always making against the great Bishop. Instead, he caused many defeats and losses in their ranks by his words, meekness and example.


St. Francis de Sales, zealous fighter against the Calvinist heresy

At age 56 St. Francis delivered his soul to God. Twenty three years after his death, Pope Alexander VII inserted his name in the catalogue of the Saints. In 1877 he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX and named Patron of writers and journalists.

St. Francis was a true warrior of the Church against heresy. Today the Catholic press is obliged to wage the same combat since the world is falling into the abyss of heresy and dissolution of good customs. Unfortunately, this is happening with the complicity of almost the entire media.

There are only a few organs representatives of the Catholic press that oppose this wave. Only the spirit of sacrifice that animated St. Francis de Sales to combat the Calvinist heresy at its very heart will give them the strength to efficiently combat the bad press, which hides a true hatred for the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ behind its supposed neutrality.

May St. Francis of Sales intercede before Our Lord to procure the needed grace, without which nothing can be done, and to give Catholic journalists the necessary spirit of sacrifice to fulfill their mission.

(This text reproduces an article by Prof. Plinio in O Legionario, January 23, 1938)

Tradition in Action

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.