Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 14, 2008
St. Francis de Sales promoted science, French language
Humble psychologist humanist, became patron saint of writers
St. Francis de Sales – January 24
By TED FITZGERALD
The bishop kept detailed journals which he used as material for his well-received spiritual books.
Of neo-classical design, it is distinguished by its famed clocher flanked by two minor towers and a third tower capping the prominent semi-circular apse.
The interior of the church is noteworthy for its airy, white, gold-trimmed d‚cor, attractive sanctuary lamp, two-tiered choir loft and semi-circular sanctuary. Particularly impressive are hand-carved white-pine Stations of the Cross.
Prominent in the centre of the elaborate gilt-edged reredos behind the main altar, a statue of the parish patron, named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1877 and patron of journalists in 1923 by Pope Pius XI, is holding his best-known spiritual work Introduction to the Devout Life.
French-born Francis was ordained a priest in 1593 and spent a large part of his vocation preaching successfully in the wake of the Reformation for the conversion of Calvin Chablais.
He was then made bishop of Geneva and spent 20 years of his ministry there, continually seeking the return to the faith of the area's population. He made time to found, with St. Jane Francis de Chantal, the Visitation nuns, and within 43 years of his death in 1622, was canonized.
A prolific writer, the bishop kept detailed journals which he used as material for his well-received spiritual books, such as Treatise on the Love of God.
Despite his intellectual pursuits, he had a reputation for accessibility and humility and was a favourite of children. Noted as a psychologist and humanist, he has become recognized as a patron of all writers.
Back in his south-shore Canadian parish, partly because of a fear that in today's rapidly changing world old Quebec institutions might be in danger of disappearing, the religious complex at Saint-Francois has been designated as a patrimonial conservation area. Informative guides to the church, two old rectories, a large convent and a Calvary are available at the church, which is open daily.
L'Eglise Saint-Francois-de-Sales remains an active parish today, serving almost 1,600 area Catholics from its landmark Clocher au Milieu de la Plaine.
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