A year with Francis de Sales

January 11, 2011 | 34 comments

I’m still excited that my patron saint for 2011, chosen by the trusty Saint’s Name Generator, is St. Francis de Sales. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he was born in France in 1567 and ended up becoming a well-known spiritual director, whose teachings became known as the Way of Divine Love. His writings are still popular today because he was so gifted at offering practical advice to normal people living ordinary lives. His thoughts on how to achieve holiness right where you are resonate just as much today as they did 400 years ago.

I count his Introduction to the Devout Life as one of the most life-changing books I’ve ever read. It’s one of those books that I wish I could convince everyone to read. Combining that with the fact that he is my patron for 2011, I thought it might be fun to do a series of posts highlighting some of my favorite excerpts from the Introduction throughout the year.

Whether you’re well-versed in the Way of Divine Love or said “Francis de what?” when you read the title of this post, I promise you’ll learn something new from this great spiritual teacher. My first post is coming up soon, so look out for it!


  1. Judy @ Learning To Let Go

    I look forward to your coming posts! May I suggest a book you might like to look out for? “Saint Francis de Sales and His Friends” by Maurice Henry-Couannier, originally published in 1964, is a book we picked up second-hand a few years ago. It gives an excellent overview of his life, as well as insights into some of the holy women who put themselves under his direction, such as St. Jane Francis de Chantal. I found it to be a riveting read, a real page-turner, and it gave me so much more breadth in appreciating this wonderful saint. I’m pretty sure there are still copies available second-hand, for example, through Amazon UK.

    Sounds like you’re feeling better, Jen! I hope that is the case.

  2. Marie

    I am currently reading St. Francis De Sales book “Thy Will Be Done – Letters to Persons in the World”. It is awesome and has very much helped me in some practical matters and how I view certain happenings in my own life. The book is a series of letters written by St. Francis to a variety of people – married women, nuns, priests, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, etc. I highly recommend it! I look forward to reading your posts about this GREAT saint!

  3. bearing


    I’ve been blogging my way through _Introduction to the Devout Life_ for months now and have written almost three dozen posts. My index of posts on this is here.

    I’m really excited to hear what you have to say about St. Francis. He is truly an amazing writer. I believe it was your blog that turned me on to him in the first place, and I am very thankful!

  4. Melanie

    I always read and rarely comment so first of all congrats on the new baby and I am glad you are home and feeling better. I used your St. Generator the other day and thought I’d share with you. St. Barnabas was chosen for me. I found it to be striking at first because his feast day is the day after my birthday. Which is kinda like opening the Bible and pointing to a passage and getting just the message you were looking for. :)I am looking forward to learning more about this peacemaker. And looking forward to hear about your journey with St. Francis de Sales. God Bless!

  5. Rebecca

    I’m about halfway through “Finding God’s Will for you Life” and I really like it. It made me request (and receive!) “Introduction to the Devout Life” for 3 King’s Day. I’m looking forward to reading more of his works and to reading your posts!

  6. Lauren

    LOVE IT!!

    I’m working on Introduction to the Devout Life now- a chapter a day…but I had to put it down to take his advice and read Granada’s The Sinner’s Guide to do a REALLY thorough examination of conscious. It should be here tomorrow. Can’t wait!! Look forward to your posts!

  7. Julianne Douglas

    I attended a Visitation high school, so St. Francis de Sales is dear to me. Did you know he’s one of the patron saints of writers? I’m very much looking forward to reading your posts. Live Jesus!

  8. Keri

    I attend a parish named after him! So tell me more! 🙂

  9. priest's wife

    funny…I snagged my mom’s second copy of “Intro”- I haven’t read it since I was married- so I’ll be getting to know St Francis de Sales with you this year

    glad you are feeling better- as my mom says- drink your water!

  10. Candace

    I am excited…I clicked over to the book on amazon and found it for 2.99 on kindle, so that is much more in my price range and I’m going to start reading tonight. 🙂 Thanks for sharing…

  11. Sr Anne

    St. Francis de Sales is also the patron of the Catholic Press–and you are certainly engaged in the modern version of that (and the traditional one with your own book project)!

  12. Teresa

    I am looking forward to your upcoming posts. While growing up I attended a parish called St. Francis De Sales but honestly I can’t remember being taught much about him. God Bless.

  13. Margo

    I love your Saint’s Name Generator. It was actually my mom who discovered it on your blog and sent me the link because I’d been offline during most of the month of December when I think you posted it. We have both enjoyed using it and it was such a great idea!

  14. Marco

    I am so glad that St. Frances de Sales is your patron saint of the year! He is one of my favorite saints and was instrumental in the early days of my coming back to the Catholic Church. I am a faithful reader of your blog and I can’t wait to read your upcoming posts about this great saint.

    Keep up the great work!


  15. Trish

    I’m really looking forward to your posts. St Francis de Sales is a special favourite of mine, and I love Introduction to the Devout Life 🙂
    God bless you..Trish

  16. Christine

    I’ve been giving a lot of thought to “adopting” a patron saint. My grand father knew Brother Andre Bessett & had so many good things to say of him. As a native Montrealer, I’ve visited St-Josephs Shrine many, many times but only once as a Catholic. Because St-Andre & I come from the same hometown & lived during the same century, I feel a certain kind of kinship.

    I guess I’m going to have to pray about this some more!

  17. Jeannine

    Obediently learning about St. Jerome over here! So far, irascible and brilliant. Thank you for your little gadget that introduced me to this saint I might never have otherwise gotten to know! I love Introduction to the Devout Life. I first learned of it through Kristen at Small Treasures. Such timeless advice…

  18. Karen Haynes

    This is wonderful! Thank you for the Saint Generator! 🙂 Can’t wait to read more. Bernard of Clairvaux will be my buddy for the next year – and while I’m not whether I’ll write much about him, I’m so excited for the challenge.

  19. Ellen

    St. Francis De Sales speaks to me in a way that gets through so clearly–and I only recently gave him any attention. I will reread his books many, many times, and keep gleaning so much wisdom and advice. Surely I cannot help but grow closer to God. A little. I hope!

  20. Lauren

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter.

    I used the Saint Generator today and got St. Paul Chong Hasang as my saint for the year. He was a Korean diplomat in China and one of the founders of the Church in Korea.

    I’m currently a U.S. diplomat serving overseas — that can’t be a coincidence. I mean really, how many saints are diplomats?!

    • LeeAnn Balbirona

      That is really neat, Lauren. I had a similar serendipitous random choice. I received St. Monica as my saint for the year.

  21. Lynn

    Thanks for the saint generator. St. Maximilian Kolbe is my patron for the year.

    • Lizbeth

      She is getting so big, what a goguroes girl. I still remember that first picture of a beautiful newborn all swaddled in her blankets.You always find the best music, who was that?

  22. RI

    I got St. Jude which was appropriate for me cos there is an issue in my life for which i had completely thrown in the towel

    However aside from the book of St.Jude are there any writings on him i can read – would very much like to spend the year getting to know the Saint who adopted me for 2011

  23. RI

    sorry i meant the epistle in the bible

  24. Mary Kay

    My daughter attends a high school named for de Sales and it is run by your beloved Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia. I’m excited to learn more about St. Francis de Sales.

  25. hobbitmom

    Okay, I used the Saint Name Generator with half amusement and half interest, obediently praying for real help beforehand. When the result came up I just stared at the screen.

    St. Dymphna. Patron of the emotionally and mentally disturbed. Probably not a coincidence that I’m struggling with clinical depression.

    • Lynn

      I almost took Dymphna as my confirmation name. There is a St. Dymphna shrine near where I live and I plan to visit this year.

  26. NCSue

    As an aspiring Daughter of St. Francis de Sales, I couldn’t be more delighted to see that you’ve chosen to dedicate a year to this gentle, practical, and wise saint.

  27. Monica

    Beautiful site!
    For some audio files of ITTDL plus some excellent meditations from Fr. Austin, FSSP thought I’d share the following links:
    Introduction to the Devout Life:
    Introduction – Part I 49 MB https://files.me.com/deesquared/3qqygj.mp3

    Part II
    39 MB

    Part III
    112 MB https://files.me.com/deesquared/s57uls.mp3

    Part IV
    37 MB
    Part V 21 MB https://files.me.com/deesquared/amrj7m.mp3


    “We don’t need a whole lot of new ideas, just a lot of reminders!”
         – Pope John Paul II on the message from Our Lady of Fatima

  28. Mary

    Happy feast of St. Francis de Sales, Jen!!! I hope it was blessed! Thanks for all you share with us! 🙂

  29. John Knutsen

    He’s my patron saint! One of the greatest!

  30. Janis Winters

    Francis de Sales is dear to me. I love Introduction to the Devout Life. This is wonderful!

  31. Carmella Galloway

    Frances de Sales is your patron saint of the year! He was a Korean diplomat in China and one of the founders of the Church in Korea. I got St. Which is kinda like opening the Bible and pointing to a passage and getting just the message you were looking for.

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