St. Francis de Sales
Saint Francis de Sales was born in 1657 in Southeast France. He excelled in every subject in school. His intellectual gifts, holiness, and engaging personality made him an ideal candidate for the priesthood and eventually the episcopacy. He was appointed the bishop of Geneva, a generation after John Calvin, a former future priest, had turned that deeply Catholic city into the Protestant Rome, leaving St. Francis as bishop of Geneva in little but name only.
In carrying out his ministry, St. Francis’ weapon of choice was the pen. His apologetic and spiritual works brought back tens of thousands of former Catholics to the faith after they had dabbled in Calvinism. Saint Francis’s words were so profound, original, and creative, and his love of God so straightforward and understandable, that he would be declared a doctor of the Church in 1877. In his most well-known book, Introduction to the Devout Life, he addressed himself to “people who live in towns, within families, or at court.” God’s will was to be found everywhere, not just in monasteries and convents.
Many arduous pastoral trips through the mountains of his native region eventually wore him out. He never insisted on preferential treatment despite his status. He slept, ate, and traveled as a common man would. moved about his diocese on foot and horseback, destroying his own health, to visit the poor and humble faithful who were drawn to him as much as the high born.
When he lay dying, mute after a terrible stroke, a nun asked him if he had any words of wisdom to impart. He asked for some paper and wrote three words on it: “Humility, Humility, Humility.”