Celebrating Our Patron: Tarmac Honors St. Francis de Sales

This stained-glass portrait of St. Francis de Sales is housed outside the Chapel of our Lady’s Assumption.

TBy Michael Tsui ’18

This past Tuesday, January 24, was the feast day of St. Francis de Sales.  Known as the patron saint of Catholic writers, the Catholic press, and journalists, St. Francis serves an important role to all of the writers and editors of Tarmac.

St. Francis was born in the Chateau de Sales in Switzerland on August 21, 1567.  Even though he was born into a noble family that wanted him to pursue a law career, this faithful man felt from a young age that he had a calling to serve God.  He continued his prayers and studied theology in secrecy throughout his years practicing law.  At the urging of his father, he also studied fencing and riding during that time.  After years of practicing law and pursuing interests to please his family, God showed Francis his true calling through a divine revelation.  One day, he fell three times while riding his horse.  Each time he fell, his sword and scabbard dropped to the ground in the shape of a cross.

St. Francis was ordained a priest, and he was elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva in 1593.  Living in a very Calvinist-influenced area, St. Francis made it his mission to convert people back to the Catholic Church.  For years, his mission was met with resistance, and he was treated poorly by those he tried to convert.  St. Francis decided that the best way to get the attention of the Calvinists was to write pamphlets explaining Catholic doctrine and place them under their doors.  Due to his determination and hard work, he converted over forty thousand people to the Catholic Church.

After becoming the bishop of Geneva, St. Francis started to write letters to guide people.  He would patiently respond to letter after letter, saving what he could not finish in one night for the next day.  Through these writings, he taught people that everyone has the universal call to holiness in their lives.

As a result of his influential writings, St. Francis de Sales was named the patron saint of Catholic writers, the Catholic press, and journalists by Pope Pius XI in 1923.  The mission of St. Francis to convert thousands of Calvinists to Catholicism through his writings demonstrates how powerful the written word can be.  The feast day of St. Francis de Sales is great time to reflect on how we as journalists can educate and change the way people see the world.