will often make you languid and feeble, wherefore I
advise you to exercise yourself much in the will of
God, and in the abnegation of exterior satisfactions,
and in sweetness amid bitterness. This will be the
most excellent sacrifice you can make. Hold good, .
and practise, not only a solid love, but a tender, gentle,
and sweet love towards those about you : on which I
say, by the experience I have, that infirmity, though
it does not take away charity, yet takes away sweet-
ness towards our neighbour, if we are not greatly on
My dearest mother, I wish you the height of per-
fection, in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
I remain for ever your, &c.
To THE SAME.
ALAS ! my God ! dearest mother, how surprised was I
to learn from your letter, as it were all on a sudden,
the length and the danger of your malady ! For
believe, I pray, that my heart cherishes you filially.
God be praised that you seem to have almost got
Truly, I see well that for the future you must grow
Various Letters. 225
familiar with maladies and infirmities in this decline
of age in which you are. Lord Jesus ! what true
happiness to a soul dedicated to God, to be well exer-
cised by tribulation before departing this life ! My
dearest mother, how can one know sincere and strong
love save amid thorns, crosses, languors, and above
all, when the languors are accompanied with longueurs
(i.e., are long).
In such way our dear Saviour has shown his un-
measured love by the measure of his labours and pains.
My dearest mother, dearly make love to the Spouse
of your heart on the bed of pain ; for it is on this
bed that he has made love to your heart, even before
it came into the world, seeing it as yet only in his
Ah ! this Saviour has counted all your pains, all
your sufferings, and has bought, at the price of his
blood, all the patience and all the love necessary to
apply holily all your labours to his glory and your
salvation. Be content quietly to will to be all that
God wants you to be. Never will I fail to beseech
the Divine Majesty for the perfection of your heart,
which mine loves, cherishes, and tenderly honours.
Adieu, my dearest mother, and my dearest child,
again ; let us be God's eternally, ourselves and our
affections and our little pains and our great ones, and
all that the Divine goodness wills to be ours ; and I
am in him, my dearest mother, absolutely your true
226 6V. Francis de Sales.
To A LADY.
It is permitted to mourn the dead with moderation and resignation.
Long sicknesses are advantageous.
So, then, my dearest daughter, I am just told that
your dear sister is gone, leaving us here below with
the* affections of grief, which generally attack those
left behind in such separations. O God ! I take care,
my dearest child, not to say " weep not." No, for
it is very just and reasonable that you should weep a
little, but a little, my dear child, in testimony of the
sincere love you bore her; in imitation of our dear
Master who certainly wept a little over his friend
Lazarus ; but we must not weep much, as those do,
who, contracting all their thoughts to the moments of
this miserable life, remember not that we also are
going towards eternity, where, if we live well in this
life, we shall rejoin our dear departed ones, never to
leave them again.
We cannot hinder our poor heart from feeling the
condition of this life, and the loss of those who were
our delightful companions therein; but we must not,
for all this, betray the solemn profession we have made
to join our will inseparably to that of our God.
How happy is that dear sister, to have seen come,
little by little, and from afar, this hour of her depar-
ture ! For thus she prepared herself to make it holily.
Let us adore this Divine Providence, and say : Yes,
Various Letters. 227
you are blessed, and all that pleases you is good. My
God ! dearest child, how sweetly should these little
events be received by our hearts : our hearts, I say,
which henceforth ought to have more affection in
heaven than on earth ! I will pray to God for this
soul, and for the consolation of those who are his.
Do not put yourself in trouble about your prayer,
nor about this variety of desires which you have, for
the variety of affections is not bad, nor the desire of
many distinct virtues.
As to your resolutions, you may particularize them
thus : I will practise more faithfully the virtues
which are necessary to me ; as, for example, on such
an occasion which may present itself, I am prepared
to practise such a virtue ; and so forth.
It is not necessary to use words, even interior ones ;
it suffices to excite the heart, or to repose it on our
Lord ; it suffices to regard amorously this Divine lover
of our souls, for between lovers, eyes speak better
I write without leisure, and in presence of the
bearer. Good night, then, my dearest child ; pour
the death of our sister into that of our Saviour.
Regard this death of our sister only in that of
our Redeemer. May his will be for ever glorified !
Your very humble servant, &c.
228 i5y. Francis de Sales.
To A RELIGIOUS OF THE VISITATION.
On want of reverence in church.
2"jth December, 1615.
THE temptation to laugh in Church and at Office is
bad, though it may seem only silly and childish ; for
after charity the virtue of religion is the most
excellent. As charity renders to our Lord according
to our power, the love which is due to him, so religion
renders him due honour and reverence ; and hence
the faults which are committed against it are very
bad. It is true that in yours I do not see great sin,
as it is against the will ; but yet you must not leave
it without some penance. When the enemy cannot
make our souls Marion, he makes our hearts Robin;*
and it does not matter to him, provided that time is
lost, the spirit dissipated, and somebody scandalized.
But, look you, dear child of my heart, do not frighten
these good daughters; for from one extreme they
might pass to the other, which must not be.
I do not yet tell you my thoughts on the subject
you write to me about, for to-day is in Christmas-
tide, when the angels come to seek Paradise on earth.
Certainly it has descended into the little cavern of
Bethlehem, in which, my dear child, I shall find you
in these days with all our dear sisters, who doubtless
* Adapting a proverbial expression (Robin a trouve Marion)
a rogue hath found his like.
Various Letters. 229
will make their abode, like wise bees, with their little
King. Those who humble themselves lowest will
see him nearest; for he is lost iii the very depths
of humility, of courageous, confident and constant
humility. May this sweet Infant be for ever, my
dearest daughter, the life of your heart, which I
cherish incomparably, and which is always present to
mine, so long as it pleases God that my love should
strengthen itself by want of exterior manifestation.
To A LADY.
The may not to offend God in the pleasure of the chase.
Annccy, 2Oth June, 1610.
You see, my dearest daughter, what confidence I have
in you. I have not written to you since your depar-
ture, because really I have not been able to do
so; and I make you no excuse, because you are
truly, and more and more, my more than most dear
God be praised for that your journey back has
been made nicely and quietly, and that you have
found your husband happy. Truly, that heavenly
Providence of the heavenly Father treats with sweet-
ne?" the children of his heart, and from time to time
mingles favourable sweetnesses with the fruitful bitter-
nesses which merit them.
230 St. Francis de Sales.
M. Michel asked me what I wrote to M. Legrand
about hunting ; but, my dearest daughter, it was only
a little thing in which I told him there were three
laws to observe in order to avoid offending God in
i. Not to do damage to our neighbour, it being
not reasonable that any one should take his recreation
at the expense of another, and specially in treading
down the poor peasant, who is already martyred
enough otherwise, and whose labour and condition
we should not despise.
2. Not to employ in hunting the time of the chief
feasts, in which we ought to serve God : and above ail,
to take care not to omit Mass on the days commanded.
2. Not to spend too much on it, for all recreations
become blameworthy when extravagant.
I do not remember the rest. In general, discretion
must reign everywhere.
So then, my dearest daughter, may God be ever
in the midst of your heart, to unite all your affections
to his holy love. Amen.
So has he, I assure you, put in my heart a most
unchanging and entire affection for yours, which I
cherish unceasingly, praying God to crown it with
blessing. Amen, my very dear, and always more
very dear, daughter.
Various Letters. 23 r
To MADAME DE CHANTAL.
Thoughts on the renewal of the year.
zSth December, 1605.
I END this year, my dear child, with a desire not only
great hut ardent to advance for the future in that holy
love, which I cease not to love though I have not yet
tasted it. Thank God, my child, our heart (notice, I
say our) is made for that. Ah ! why are we not all
full of it ? You cannot imagine the sense which I
have at present of this desire. O God! For what
shall we live through the next year save to love this
sovereign goodness better ! Oh ! that it may take us
from this world, or that it may take this world from
us ; may it make us die, or else make us love his
death better than our poor life !
My God ! how I wish you, my child, in Bethlehem
now with your holy Abbess (the blessed Virgin) !
Ah ! how well it becomes her to bring forth, and to
nurse this little Infant ! But chiefly I love her charity,
which lets him be seen and held and kissed by any-
body. Ask her for him, she will give him ; and when
you have him, steal secretly from him one of those
little droplets which are in his eyes. They are not
yet the rain, but only the first dew-drops of his tears.
It is a marvel how good this liquor is for every sort
of disease of the heart.
Do not load yourself with austerities this Lent,
232 St. Francis de Sales.
without your confessor's leave, and he, by my advice,
will not load you with them. May God deign to
crown your year, beginning with roses, which his
blood has coloured ! Adieu, my dear child ; I am he
who has dedicated to you his entire service.
To THE SAME.
Wishes of Messing for tlie Neiv Year.
2gth December, 1606.
BEHOLD this year, my dearest child, about to lose
itself in the gulf in which all the preceding are swal-
lowed up. Oh ! how desirable is eternity, at the
price of these miserable and perishable vicissitudes !
Let time flow, with which we ourselves flow away
little by little, to be transformed into the glory of the
children of God.
This is the last time I write to you this year, my
dear child. Ah ! what blessings I wish you, and with
what ardour ! It cannot be expressed. Alas ! when
I think how I have used God's time, I am in great
fear lest he should not will to give me his eternity,
since he does not will to give it save to those who use
his time well.
I am three months without letters from you ; but I
know God is with you, that is enough for me ; it is
he that I wish you only. I write without leisure, for
Various Letters. 233
my room is full of people who draw me away ; but
my lieaet is solitary all the time, and full of desire to
live for ever entirely for this holy love, which is the
only object of this same heart of mine.
At any rate, during these sacred days a thousand
desires have seized me to give you the glorious satis-
faction you so much desire from my soul, as from
your very own, by advancing solicitously towards holy
perfection. To this you also aspire, and by this you
respire, for the good of my heart, which in return
wishes you for ever all the highest union with God
which can be had here below. This is the only wish
of him whom God has given you.
To A LADY.
Wishes for the New Year.
2<)th December, 1606,
WELL, now, what matters it to your dear soul, my
dearest daughter, whether I write to you in one style
or in another, since it asks nothing from me except
the assurance of my worthless health, about which I
do not deserve that any one should have the least
thought in the world ? But I will tell you that it is
good, thanks to our Lord, and that I hope it will serve
me well these holy feasts for preaching, as it has done
in the Advent, and that so we shall complete this year
to begin a new one.
234 5V. Francis de Sales.
O God ! my dear child, these years pass away, and
glide off imperceptibly one after the other; and in
winding off their length, they wind off our mortal life,
and in ending they end our days. Oh ! how infinitely
more to be loved is eternity, since its duration is
endless, and its days without nights, and its satisfac-
May you, my dearest daughter, possess this ad-
mirable good of holy eternity in as high degree as I
wish it you ! What happiness for my soul, if God,
having mercy on it, made it see this consolation ! But
while waiting to see our Lord glorified, let us see him
with the eyes of faith all humbled in his little crib.
May God be ever in the midst of your heart, my
dearest daughter. Amen.
Vive Jesus /
To MADAME DE CHANTAL.
O JESUS ! fill our heart with the sacred balm of
your Divine name, that the sweetness of its perfume
may spread into all our senses, and over all our acts.
But to make this heart capable of receiving so sweet a
liquor, circumcise it, and cut off from it all that can
be disagreeable to your holy eyes. O glorious name,
which the mouth of the heavenly Father has pro-
Various Letters- 235
nounced eternally, be for ever the superscription of our
souls, that, as you are Saviour, our soul may be
eternally saved ! O holy Virgin, who, first of all the
human race, have pronounced this name of salvation,
inspire us how to pronounce it fittingly, that all may
breathe in us the salvation which your womb has
brought us !
My dearest child, it was fitting to write the first
letter of this year to our Lord and our Lady; and
here is the second, by which, O my daughter, I wish
you a good year, and I dedicate our heart to the
Divine goodness. O that we may so live this year
that it may serve as foundation for the eternal year !
At least this morning I have on waking cried out unto
your ears : Vive Jesus ! and have longed to spread
this sacred oil over all the face of the earth.
When a balm is well closed in a flask, no one can
tell what liquor it is save him who has put it there ;
but when it is opened, and some drops have been
poured out, every one says : It is balm. My dear
child, our dear little Jesus was all filled with the balm
of salvation ; but this was not known till with that
knife, lovingly cruel, his Divine flesh was opened ; and
then it was known that he is all balm and oil poured out,
and the balm of salvation. Wherefore first St. Joseph
and our Lady, then all the neighbours begin to cry
Jesus, which signifies Saviour.
May it please this Divine darling (poupon*} to steep
our souls in his blood, and to perfume them with his
* A pretty rosy little babe.
236 St. Francis de Sales.
holy name, that the roses of good desires which we
have conceived may be all empurpled with its colour,
and all odorous with its unction !
My God ! how aptly fits in this circumcision, my
child, with our . little and our great abnegations ! for
these are properly a spiritual circumcision. Your
very affectionate, &c.
To THE SAME.
You will be the first, my dearest and best mother,
who will receive a letter from me this new year.
Certainly reason requires that after having done hom-
age to the heavenly Father and Mother, I should do
it also to the only mother whom Their Majesties have
given me for this life. Good and most holy year to
my dearest mother from her son, who wishes her the
abundance of the grace of the Eternal Father, of the
peace of the circumcised Son, and of the consolation
of the Holy Spirit, dedicating with this same heart of
my dearest mother mine also to the glory of the Divine
goodness, and consecrating to it all the moments of
this new year, to make an entire circumcision of this
same heart, and to apply it to receive purely and per-
fectly the sacred love, which the heavenly and divine
name of Jesus announces to us written in his blood,
on the holy humanity of the Saviour.
Various Letters. 237
I cannot promise myself to see you before Wednes-
day, unless with the continued sight with which my
heart regards and guards yours dearly in the bottom
of my heart. Ah ! my God ! dear mother, how I
desire Divine love for this heart, what blessings I wish
it ! Let us kiss a thousand times the feet of this
Saviour, and say to him : My heart, O my God, calls
for you ; my face longs for you : Ah ! Lord, my face
seeks for yours ;* that is, my dearest mother, let us
keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, to regard him, our
mouth to praise him ; and in fine, let all our face
aspire only to become like that of our dear Jesus.
It is Jesus, for whom we must humble ourselves,
commence work, and suffer ; becoming, as St. Paul
says, sheep for the slaughter, when it shall please his
Divine Majesty to make us dishonoured for his honour
So, then, a good and most holy year to my dearest
mother, all perfumed with the name of Jesus, all
steeped in his sacred blood. May no day of this year,
and no day of many years which I pray God to grant
to my dearest mother, pass without being watered by
the virtue of this blood, and receiving the sweetness
of this name which spreads abroad the perfection of
all sweetness. Amen.
So may this sacred name fill with its agreeable
sound all the congregation of our sisters, and the drops
of blood of the little Saviour become a river of sanctity
to rejoice and fertilize the hearts of this dear flock,
* Ps. xxvi. 8
238 iSV.- Francis de Sales.
and above all, that of my dearest mother, which mine
loves as myself. Blessed be Jesus ! Blessed be his
blood ! Blessed be Mary ! Blessed be her womb,
from which Jesus took this blood.
To A SUPERIOR OP THE VISITATION.
The Saint tells her how to distinguish true revelations from
As I could not sooner, my dearest child, I will now
answer the two chief points about which you wrote
In all that I have seen of this daughter, I find
nothing to prevent my thinking her a very good girl,
and therefore she must be loved and cherished with
very good heart ; but as to her revelations and pre-
dictions, they are entirely suspicious to me, as useless,
vain, and unworthy of consideration. On the one
side, they are so frequent that the frequency and
multitude of them alone makes them merit suspi-
cion; on the other hand, they manifest certain things
which God declares very rarely, such as the assur-
ance of eternal salvation, confirmation in grace, the
degree of sanctity of several persons, and a hundred
other similar things which are useful for nothing.
St. Gregory, having been asked by a lady of honour to
the empress, called Gregoria, about her future state,
Various Letters. 239
answered her : " Your benignity, my child, asks me for
a thing equally hard and useless." And to say that
in the future it will be known why these revelations are
made, is a pretext which is used to avoid the reproach
of the uselessness of such things.
Further : when God wishes to use the revelations he
gives to creatures, he generally sends before them
either true miracles, or a very special sanctity in those
who receive them. So the evil spirit, when he wants
notably to deceive any one, before making him give
out false revelations, makes him utter false predictions,
and makes him observe a method of life falsely holy.
There was in the time of the blessed Sister Mary
of the Incarnation a young person of low position,
who was possessed by the most extraordinary delusion
that can be imagined. The enemy, under the form of
our Lord, said for a long time his office with her, with
a chant so melodious that it kept her in a state of per-
petual ravishment. He gave her communion very often
under the appearance of a silvery and resplendent
cloud, within which he made a false host come into
her mouth; he made her live without eating anything.
When she took alms to the gate, he multiplied the
bread in her apron, so that if she only carried bread
for three poor, and there were thirty, she had enough
to give to all very abundantly, and most delicious
bread, some of which even her confessor, who was of a
very reformed order, sent about among his spiritual
friends from devotion.
This girl had so many revelations that at last it made
240 6V. Francis de Sales.
her suspected by people of sense. She had one ex-
tremely dangerous, by which it was thought good to
try the sanctity of this poor creature, and for this she
was placed with the blessed Sister Mary of the Incar-
nation, then still in the married state. She was
chambermaid, and being treated a little severely by
Mons. Acarie, now deceased, it was found that this
girl was no saint at all, and that her gentleness and
exterior humility were nothing but an external gilding
which the enemy used to get the pills of his illusion
swallowed, and at last it was found that there was
nothing in the world in her but a heap of false visions.
As for her, it became well known that not only did she
not maliciously deceive the world, but that she was
first deceived, there being on her side no other sort of
fault except the complacency she took in imagining
she was a saint, and contributing a few pretences and
deceitfulnesses to keep up the reputation of her vain
sanctity. And all this was told me by the blessed
Sister Mary of the Incarnation.
Consider, I pray you, my dearest child, the shrewd-
ness and cunning of the enemy, and how deserving of
suspicion these extraordinary things are. Still, as I
have said, you must not treat this poor girl amiss,
who, I think, has no other fault in this affair* than
that of the vain amusement she takes in her vain
Only, my dearest sister, you must show a total neg-
lect and a perfect contempt of all her revelations and
visions, just as if she were relating the dreams or
Various Letters. 241
reveries of a high fever; not occupying yourself in
refuting or combating them; but, on the contrary,
when she wishes to speak of them, you must change
the subject. You must talk to her of the solid virtues
and perfections of the religious state, and particularly
of the simplicity of faith, in which the saints have
walked, without any visions or private revelations,
content to believe firmly in the revelation of the Holy
Scripture, and of the Apostolic and Church doctrine;
very often impress on her the sentence of our Lord,
that there will be many workers of miracles and many
prophets to whom he will say at the end of the world :
Depart from me, workers of iniquity ; I know you not*
But commonly you must say to this girl : Let us talk
of our lesson which our Lord has ordered us to learn,
saying : Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of
heart.-\ And, in fine, you must show an absolute con-
tempt for all these revelations.
And as to the good father who seems to approve
them, you must not rebuff him or dispute with him,
but simply say that to test all this affair of revelations
it seems good to despise them and take no account of
them. This then is my opinion for the present on this
I had forgotten to say that the visions and revela-
tions of this girl must not be found strange, because
the facility and tenderness of the imagination of young
women makes them much more susceptible of these
illusions than men ; on which account their sex is more
* Mat. vii. 22, 23. f Mat. xi. 29
242 St. Francis de Sales.
given to faith in dreams, the fear about sins, and cre-
dulity in superstitions. They often fancy they see
what they see not, hear what they hear not, and feel
what they feel not.
You must then treat this spirit by contempt of these
fancies, but a gentle and serious contempt, and not
a mocking or disdainful one. It may well be that
the evil spirit has some part in these deceits, but I
think rather that he lets the imagination act, without