St. Vincent’s Reading List, Part III: The Influence of Saint Francis de Sales

Franois de Sales. Introduction la vie devote du bien-heureux Francois de Sales, Paris: Chez Gabriel Clopejeau, 1648.
Call Number: SpC. 284.482 F818i1648

Francois de Sales.  Traicte de l’Amour de Dieu, Paris: Chez Sebastien Hure, Pere et Fils, 1647.
Call Number: SpC. 241.4 F818t 1647

Traicte de l'Amour de DieuFrancois de Sales (b. 1567, d. 1622, canonized 1665) was the most important influence on the formation of the mature Vincent de Paul.  This influence was based on the personal acquaintance of these two figures, who met several times in Paris on the occasion of the Bishop of Geneva’s visits to the French capital. Vincent comments: “Many times I had the honor of enjoying the close friendship of Frances de Sales, Bishop and Lord of Geneva, of happy memory.”

During his lifetime, Francis de Sales was renowned for his eloquent preaching and his luminous writing. His two most important and popular works were the Introduction to the Devout Life (1609), andThe Treatise on the Love of God (1616). Both speak about the essence of discipleship being found in the daily practical love of God and love of neighbor to which every Christian, no matter what their station of life, is called to and empowered by grace.

Vincent de Paul recommended these works over and over again.  For example, he described the Treatise as, “an immortal and clearly very noble work…indeed an admirable book… Would that it be studied by all, since it is so worthy! There would be no one who could escape its ardor.”

With respect to the Introduction to the Devout Life Vincent recalled, “When it was published, everyone found it so pleasing, useful, and necessary that, filled with admiration, they publicly point out the Servant of God (Francis de Sales) wherever he went, even in distant regions, exclaiming, ‘This is the great Francis of Geneva, who wrote the book, Introduction to the Devout Life!'”

More on the relationship between Vincent de Paul and Francis de Sales next month.

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St. Vincent’s Reading List is recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by St. Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and important works published during his lifetime (1581-1660). All materials discussed are held by DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives. The entire series may be viewed here.

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