will have the heart of Jesus, their crucified Spouse,
for their dwelling and abiding-place in this world,
and his heavenly palace for their eternal habitation.
I needs must say into the ear of your heart, so
lovingly beloved by mine, that I have an inexpressible
sweetness of spirit in seeing the moderation of this
dear mother, and the total disengagement from things
of earth which she has testified amid all these little
contrarieties. I say this to your heart only : for I
have taken a resolution to say nothing of her who
has heard the voice of the God of Abraham : Go forth
* Man-lover. j" Ps. bucxix. I.
39 8 St. Francis de Sales.
out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of
thy father's house, and come into the landivhich I shall
shoio thee* In truth she does that, and more than
that. Well, it means that I recommend her to your
prayers, because the frequent attacks of her maladies
often give us attacks of fear, although I cease not to
hope that the God of our fathers will multiply her
devout seed as the stars of heaven and the sand we
see on the beach of the seas.
But, my God, I say too much on a subject whereon
I meant to say nothing : at the same time it is to
you, to whom all things may be said, since you have
a heart incomparable in affection for him who, with
an amorous respect, protests to you that he is incom-
parably, sir, &c.
On humility of heart and ravishments.
WE ought not to desire extraordinary things, as, for
instance, that God should do to us as to St. Catherine
of Sienna, taking away our heart, and in its place
putting his precious own ; but we must wish that our
poor hearts should henceforth live only under the
obedience of the heart of this Saviour; this will be
quite imitation enough of St. Catherine in this point :
thus shall we be meek, humble and charitable. And
since the heart of our Lord has no more affectionate
* Gen. xii. i.
Various Letters. 399
Jaw than meekness, humility and charity, we must
keep quite strong in us these dear virtues sweetness
towards our neighbour and very amiable humility
towards God. True sanctity consists in the love of
God, and not in foolishnesses of imaginations, of ravish-
ments, which feed self-love, but starve obedience and
humility : to wish to play the extatic is an abuse.
But let us come to the exercise of true and veritable
meekness and submission, renunciation of self, pliancy
of heart, love of abjection, condescension to the desires
of others ; it is this which is the true and most love-
able extasy of the servants of God.
When we see a person who in prayer has ravish-
ments by which he goes out from and mounts above
himself in God, and yet has no extasies in his life,
that is, leads not a life lifted up and united to God
by abnegation of worldly concupiscences, and morti-
fication of natural will and inclinations, by an interior
meekness, simplicity, humility, and above all by a
continual charity then we may believe that all these
ravishments are very doubtful and perilous ; they are
ravishments proper to make men wonder, but not to
sanctify them. For what good does a soul get from
being ravished unto God by prayer, if in its conver-
sation and life it is ravished away by earthly, low, and
natural affections? To be above self in prayer, and
below self in life and operation ; to be an angel in
prayer and a beast in intercourse with men, this is to
go lame on both legs; it is to swear by God and by
Melchom ; and to sum up, it is a true s;gn that such
4OO St. Francis de Sales.
ravishments and such extasies are only amusements
and deceits of the evil spirit.
Blessed are they who live a superhuman, extatic
life, raised above themselves, though not ravished
above themselves in prayer ! Many saints are in
heaven who were never in extasy or ravishment of
contemplation ; for of how many martyrs and great
saints does history tell us that they have never had
in prayer any other privilege than devotion and fer-
vour ! But there was never a saint but has had the
extasy of life and operation, overcoming himself and
his natural inclinations. In fact, there have been
seen in our age several persons who thought them-
selves, and every one thought with them, very often
divinely ravished in extasy ; and at last it was dis-
covered that really it was only diabolical illusions
To A PROTESTANT WHO HAD ASKED TO HAVE A
CONFERENCE WITH HIM.
SIR, My design was not to enter into any conference
with you ; the necessity of my near departure entirely
took away the opportunity of it. If conferences are
not well regulated, and accompanied by leisure and
convenience for carrying them through to the end
they are without fruit. I only look at the glory
Various Letters. 401
of God, and the salvation of my neighbour. When
this cannot be procured, I hold no conference.
You well know what I mean when I speak of the
Book of Machabees. There are two ; and two make
one volume. I will not take the trouble to say more,
for I do not quibble.
It is true that we say and insist on it, and you
deny and regret it. The Church has always been
fought against in the same way ; but your negations
ought to be proved by the same sort of proofs as you
demand from us; it is for the denier to prove, when
he denies against possession, and when his negation is
to be the foundation of his argument. Jurisconsults
testify it to you ; the maxim is taken from them ;
you will not refuse its application.
Prayer for the dead has been used by all the
ancient Church, Calvin himself acknowledges it; the
Fathers have proved it by the authority of the Book
of Machabees, and the general usage of their pre-
decessors. See the end and the beginning of St.
Augustine's book on this subject : we walk in their
steps and follow their traces.
Neither the book of Machabees, nor the Apocalypse
were recognized so soon as the others ; both, however,
were equally so at the Council of Carthage, at which
St. Augustine assisted. Some canonical books were
lawfully doubted of for a time, which may not be
doubted of now : the passages I have cited are so
express, that they cannot be turned to another sense.
I conjure you by the bowels of Jesus Christ, to
402: St. Francis de Sales.
be willing henceforth to read the Scriptures and
the ancient Fathers with a mind dispossessed of
prejudices; you will see that the principal and
essential features of the face of the ancient Church
are preserved in that which is now.
I am told that God has placed in you many gifts of
Nature; do not abuse them so as to keep away those
of grace ; and consider attentively the true bearing of
the matter about which you want to confer. If
opportunity allowed, be sure that I would not refuse,
any more than I would refuse Messieurs of Geneva,
my neighbours, if they desired it on proper terms.
It would not be possible with profit to have con-
ferences in writing; we are too far apart. And
further, what could we write that has not been
repeated a hundred times ? Give, for your salvation's
sake, attentive meditation to your reasons and to the
ancient Fathers ; and I will give my poor and feeble
prayers ; these I will present to the mercy of our
Saviour, to whom and for whose love I offer you my
service, and am your, &c.
To MADAME DE CHANTAL.
The Saint deplores the misfortune of a lady who had fallen
2nd December, 1609.
O GOD ! What a misfortune ! This poor thing then
means to be lost with her husband ! The Confessions
Various Letters. 403
of St. Augustine, and the chapter I showed her when
I passed that way, ought to have been enough to
hold her back, if she is only driven to the precipice
by the considerations she mentions. God, at the day
of his great Judgment, will justify himself against her,
and will make clearly appear why she has abandoned
him. Ah! one abyss calls upon another. I will
pray God for her, and especially on the feast of
St. Thomas, whom I will conjure by his happy
infidelity, to intercede for this poor soul so unhappily
What thanksgivings do we owe to this great God,
my dear child ? To think that I, so many ways
tempted, in a frail and unstable age, to surrender
myself to heresy, and that I have not cared so
much as even to look upon it except to spit in
its face, and that my feeble and young soul, going
through all the most infected books should not have
had the least emotion of this miserable evil ! O God !
when I think of this benefit, I tremble with horror at
But let us calm ourselves in the loss of these souls ;
for Jesus Christ, to whom they were more dear, would
not let them go after their own sense, if his greater
glory did not require it. It is true we ought to
regret them and sigh after them, like David, over
Absalom hanged and lost. There was no great harm
in that indignation you showed when speaking with
her. Alas ! my child, sometimes we cannot contain
ourselves in occurrences so deserving of abhorrence.
D D 2
404 6V. Francis de Sales.
The other day, at an early hour, a very learned
man, and one who had been a minister for a long time,
came to see me, and telling me how God had with-
drawn him from heresy : I had for instructor, he
said, the most learned bishop in the world. I
expected he would name some one of the great repu-
tations of this age : he said, St. Augustine. His
name is Corneille, and he is just now printing a
splendid book for the Faith. He is not yet received
into the Church, and has given me a hope that I shall
receive him. This good man went off contented with
me, saying that I had lovingly entertained him, and
that I had the true spirit of the Christian. We must
conclude that these ancient Fathers have a spirit
which breathes against heresy, even in the points
where they are not disputing against it.
When I was at Paris, and preaching in the Queen's
Chapel on The Day of Judgment (it was no sermon oi
controversy), a young lady was present out of curiosity,
named Madame de Perdreauville ; she was caught in
the meshes, and on this sermon she took a resolution
to get instructed, and three weeks afterwards she
brought all her family to confession to me, and I was
godfather to them all in Confirmation. Do you see ?
That sermon, which was not made against heresy,
still breathed against heresy : fop God on that
occasion gave me that spirit in favour of those souls.
Since then I have always said that he who preaches
with love preaches sufficiently against heretics, though
he say not a single word of controversy against them.
Various Letters. 405
And this is the same as to say that in general all the
writings of the Fathers are suitable for the conversion
O my God, dear child, how many perfections do I
wish you ! One for all, unity, simplicity. Live in
peace and joyous, or at least contented, in all that
God wishes and wills to do in your heart. I am in
him and by him all yours. Your, &c.
To HIS BROTHER, COADJUTOR OF GENEVA.
About one of their friends who had turned Calvinist and
_ffone into England.
Annecy, 2ist November, 1620.
HERE is a letter which I have opened without per-
ceiving that it was not for me. O God ! my dearest
brother, what anguish did the reading of it cause to
my soul ! Certainly it is quite true that in all my
life I have not had so painful a surprise. Is it
possible that this soul can so have gone to ruin ? He
used to say so distinctly to me that he would never be
aught else than child of the Roman Church; though
he thought the Pope exceeded the limits of justice, to
extend those of his authority. Meantime, after having
cried out so strongly that it did not behove that the
supreme Pastor, the ruler of the Church, should
undertake to release subjects from the obedience of
406 ,5V. Francis de Sales.
the supreme prince of the commonwealth, whatever
evil this prince might do; he himself, for these
pretended abuses, goes and becomes a rebel against
this supreme Pastor; or (to speak after his language),
against all the pastors of the Church in which he has
been baptized and brought up !
He who did not find clearness enough, he used to
say, in the passages of Scripture to prove the authority
of St. Peter over the rest of Christians, how has he
gone to place himself under the ecclesiastical authority,
of a king, whose power the Scripture has never autho-
rized save for civil matters?
If he found that the Pope was exceeding the limits
of his power by claiming some power over the temporal
authority of princes, how will he find that the
king, under whom he has gone to live, exceeds
the limits of his authority, by claiming rights over the
Is it possible that what brought back and kept St.
Augustine to the Church has not been able to retain
this spirit? Is it possible that the reverence for an-
tiquity and rejection of novelty has not had the power
to stop him ?
Is it possible that he has believed that all the Church
has so greatly erred, and that Huguenots or English
Calvinists have so happily met with the truth every-
where, and not erred in the understanding of the
Scripture ? Whence can such universal knowledge of
the sense of Scripture have come into those heads in
the matters of our controversies, as that everywhere
Various Letters, 4617
they should be right, and we everywhere wrong, so
that he must leave us to cling to them?
Alas ! my dear brother, you will soon perceive the
trouble there is in my spirit, when I say all this to you.
The modesty with which he behaves in writing to you,
the friendship he begs from you with so much affec-
tion, and even submission, has made a great wound of
condolence in my spirit, which cannot rest when it sees
the soul of this friend perishing.
I was on the eve of getting a place made for him
here, and M. N. had word to treat with him about it;
and now there he is, separated from the rest of the
world by the sea, and from the Church by schism and
error! However, God will draw his glory from this
I have a particular inclination for that island and
its king, and I unceasingly recommend its conversion
to the Divine Majesty. I have confidence that I shall
be heard with so many souls that sigh after this grace;
and henceforth I will pray even more ardently, me-
thinks, in consideration of that soul.
O my dearest brother, blessed are the true children
of the Holy Church, in which have died all the true
children of God. I assure you, my heart has a con-
tinual extraordinary throbbing on account of this fall,
and a new courage to serve better the Church of the
living God, and the living God of the Church.
Meanwhile we must keep this miserable news secret,
though it is sure soon to be spread about on account
of the number of the relatives and friends of him who
408 6V. Francis de Sales.
gives it you. And if you write to him, as he seems
to ask, through M. Gabaleon, assure him that all the
waters of England can never quench the flames of my
affection, so long as I can keep any hope of his return
to the Church, and to the way of eternal life.
(From the original Latin.)
To HIS HOLINESS PAUL V.
On, the Venerable Ancina.
[ RECEIVED a very great joy and satisfaction when 1
heard that there would shortly appear the life and the
details of all the actions of the most illustrious and
most reverend Father and Lord, Juvenal Ancina. For
since bishops, as said the great Bishop of Nazianzum,
St. Gregory, are the painters of virtue, and as they
have to paint so excellent a thing by their words and
their works as accurately as possible, I do not doubt
that in the life of our most illustrious and admirable
Juvenal, we shall see a complete and perfect image of
Christian justice, that is, of all virtues.
And, indeed, during the space of four or five months
that I was negotiating at Rome the affairs of this See,
by the command of my most devout and virtuous pre-
decessor, Monseigneur Claude de Granier, I saw many
men excelling in sanctity and doctrine, who were by
their works illustrating The City, and in the City the
Various Letters. 409
world (in urbe orbem) ; but amongst all these great
personages, the virtue of this one particularly struck
the eyes of my spirit.
For I admired, in the profound science of this man
which embraced so many different subjects and with
so full an erudition, a corresponding contempt of self;
in the perfect gravity of his appearance, of his dis-
course and of his manners, as much also of grace and
modesty ; in his great solicitude for devotion, an equal
remembrance of politeness and sweetness : so that he
did not tread down pride by another pride, as happens
with many, but by a true humility ; and he did not
display his charity by knowledge which puffeth up, but
made his knowledge fruitful by the charity which
edifieth. He was a man beloved of God and men, be-
cause he loved them with the purest charity. Now, I
call purest charity that in which can scarce be found
the smallest trace of self-love or philautia, a rare and
exquisite charity, which is hardly met with even among
those who make profession of piety, wherefore from far
and from the uttermost coasts is the price thereof.*
I have noticed that when the occasion presented
itself, this man of God was accustomed so openly,
frankly, and lovingly to praise the different institutes,
virtues, teaching, and ways of serving God, of various
religions, ecclesiastics, and laymen, as if he were a
member of their congregations or meetings. And
whilst he embraced with most sweet and entirely filial
heart his own and his most beloved Congregation of
* Prov. xxxi. 10.
4JO St. Francis de Sales.
the Oratory, he did not on that account more coldly,
as often happens, or more weakly love, esteem, or
extol other houses or assemblies of persons serving
This was why, looking only at the greater glory of
God, he most lovingly guided with his own hand and
influence, into the society which he thought most
suited to them, those who, touched interiorly with
heavenly love, desired to follow the course of a purer
life, and sought his counsel : a man, in sooth, 'who
was neither of Paul, nor of Cephas, nor of Apollo,
but of Jesus Christ,* and who listened not to those
cold words, mine and thine, either in temporals or
in spirituals; but did all things sincerely in Christ
and for Christ.
Of this perfect charity of this Apostolic man ]
have an example now at hand. Just lately there
died, in the College of the Clerks Regular of St. Paul
in this city of Annecy, a most religious man, William
Cramoisy, of Paris ; with whom when I was once
talking, in an ordinary way, I happened to mention
the name of our most Reverend Juvenal Ancina. And
he, suddenly filled with joy, said : " How grateful,
how precious to me should be the memory of this
man ! For he as it were brought me forth again in
Christ/' And when he saw that I had a desire of
hearing the whole thing fully, he thus continued:
"When I was twenty-four years old, Divine Pro-
vidence had already attracted me to the religious life
* I Cor. iii.
Various Letters. 411.
by many inspirations ; but T felt myself, from my
weakness, so agitated by contrary temptations, that
altogether despondent in my soul, I was seriously
thinking of marriage ; and the affair had already
gone so far among my friends that it seemed almost
" But how great is the benignity of God ! When
I entered the Oratory of Vallicelle, what should 1
hear but Father Juvenal Ancina preaching to the
people, first on the inconstancy and weakness of the
human heart, then on the magnanimity with which
divine instincts are to be put in execution. He spoke
with such skill of language and argument, that he
seemed to shake off as with his hand the miserable
slothfulness of my heart : so that at length, lifting up
his voice as a trumpet, he compelled me to surrender.
Wherefore, as soon as ever the sermon was finished,
anxious and hesitating I go to him in a corner of the
oratory where he was praying, as I think, for the
happy issue of his sermon, and expose to him what
was taking place in my soul.
" He said : ' This matter must be treated more fully,
and there is not time now, as the day grows late. So
to-morrow, if you will come to me, we can more con-
veniently go into everything. Meantime, and this is the
chief point, by prayer invoke the heavenly light/
" So I went next day, and sincerely declared all
that I was doing about my vocation, on either side;
and particularly that I was chiefly afraid of the
religious life because I was weak and delicate.
St. Francis de Sales.
" Wheii he had attentively heard and weighed all,
that servant of God said : ' On this very account it is, by
Divine Providence, that there are in the Church various
orders of religious namely, that any one who could
not give his life to those orders which are austere and
devoted to exterior penance, may enter the milder.
And here you have the Congregation of Clerks
Regular of St. Paul, in which the discipline of
religious perfection excellently flourishes ; still it is
not weighed down by any bodily labour so great but
that by almost any man its customs and constitutions
may be quite easily observed, with God's favour : go
to their college, and see for yourself whether it is not
so/ Nor from that time did the man of God cease
his efforts till he had seen me enrolled and joined to
this most venerable Congregation."
From which it is easy to understand how great was
the power of the great Juvenal Ancina in preaching,
his wisdom in counselling, and his perfect and con-
stant charity in helping his neighbour. For this very
thing which I have just mentioned by way of example,
I and several others know to have been done ; and
indeed, for myself, I openly declare that by the many
letters which I have received from him through his
affection to me, I have been vehemently united to the
love of Christian virtue.
But after he was transferred from the excellent life
of the Congregation of the Oratory to the most holy
Episcopal office, then did his virtue begin to shine more
splendidly, and more clearly, as was fitting, to send
Various Letters. 413
forth its rays, as a burning and shining light* placed
on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are
in the housed
And, indeed, when in 1603, I went a little out of
aay direct journey, in order to salute him, at Carmag-
nola, a town of his diocese of Saluces, where he was
then fulfilling his duty of pastoral visitation, I saw
what love, mingled with veneration, his piety and
wealth of virtues had excited in those people. For
when they learnt that I had arrived, I cannot suffi-
ciently express the ardour of soul with which, by a
certain friendly violence, they drew me from the
public hospice into the house of some noble citizen,
saying that they would like, if they only could do it,
to lodge in the midst of their bosoms a man who had
gone out of his way for the sake of honouring their
most beloved pastor.
Nor could they ever satisfy themselves in joyously
expressing by words, and looks, the satisfaction felt at
the presence of such a pastor ; whilst he, with a certain
most dignified familiarity, and most sweet good-will
towards all, drew to himself at once their eyes and
souls, and as a glorious and loving-hearted shepherd,
called his own sheep by name% to verdant pastures, and
with his hands full of the salt of wisdom, enticed them,
nay, drew them, to come after him.
In fine, I will say one word; may I say it without
* John v. 35. t Mat. v. 15.
J John x. 3.
414 $"/. Francis de Sales.
offence ? I do not remember that I have seen a man
more copiously, more splendidly adorned with the
gifts which the Apostle so earnestly desired for Apos-
LETTERS OF THE SAINT ABOUT
MONSIEUR DE BOISY, COUNT DE SALES, TO HIS SON
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
I CANNOT but praise your zeal,* my son; but I do uot
see that it can end in any good. You have already
done more than was needed. The most sensible and
the most prudent people say loudly that your perse-
verance is turning into a foolish obstinacy, and that it
is tempting God to make a longer trial of your
strength, and, in fine, that it is necessary to force these
people to receive the faith simply by the cannon's
mouth. For which reason I conjure you to allay, as
soon as you possibly can, our disquiets and alarms,
and to return to your family which ardently desires