you, and above all to your mother, who is dying
of grief at not seeing you, and of fear to lose you
* In his missionary work for the Chablais.
4 i 6 -5V. Francis de Sales.
altogether. But if my prayers are of no avail, I order
you, in my quality of father, to return hither imme-
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES TO HIS FATHER.
He excuses himself for 'being unable to return.
MY HONOURED FATHER, Whatever respect I have
for your orders, I cannot help telling you that it is
impossible for me to obey them. You are not
ignorant from whom, under God, and on God's part,
I have received my mission. Am I able to withdraw
myself from it without his leave ? Apply then,
if you please, to his Most Reverend Lordship : I am
ready to quit, as soon as he speaks. In any case, 1
beseech you to consider those words of our Saviour :
He who shall persevere to the end shall be saved ;* and
these others of St. Paul : He is not crowned that
st rivet h, except he strive lawfully.^ Our tribulation,
which is momentary and light, worketh an eternal
weight of glory. %
* Mat. x. 22. f 2 Tim. ii. 5.
J 2 Cor. iv. 17.
Letters of the Saint about himself. 4 1 7
To MADAME THE COUNTESS OF SALES, HIS MOTHER.
He consoles her for his absence by the hope of seeing him
Ma y, J 599-
I WRITE you this, my dear and good mother, as
I mount my horse for Chambery. This note is not
sealed, and I have no anxiety about it; for, by the
grace of God, we are no longer in that trying time
during which we had to hide ourselves in order
to write to one another, and to say some words of
friendship and consolation. Vive Dieu, my good
mother; truly the remembrance of that time always
produces in my soul some holy and sweet thought.
Always preserve joy in our Lord, my good mother,
and be assured that your poor son is well, by the
Divine mercy, and is getting ready to go and see you
the soonest, and stay with you the longest possible, for
I am all yours, and you know that I am your son.
To MADAME DE CHANTAL.
He speaks to her of the fruit of his Lent-preaching at Annecy,
Annecy, about the Sth April, 1607.
LOOK YOU, my dear child, you know well that Lent
is the harvest-time of souls. I had not preached a
4 1 8 6V. Francis de Sales.
Lent in this dear town up to this, since I had been
made bishop, except the first, in which I was looked at
to see what I should do ; and I had enough to do to
take up my position, and see after the general affairs
of the diocese which had just freshly fallen on my
shoulders. Now, know that I make my harvest, with
tears partly of joy and partly of love. O my God !
to whom should I say these things, if not to my dear
I have just found in our sacred nets a fish which I
had so longed for these four years. I must confess
the truth, I have been very glad, I say extremely glad
over it. I recommend her to your prayers, that our
Lord may establish in her heart the resolutions he
has put therein. It is a lady, quite a golden lady,
and magnificently fitted to serve her Saviour ; and if
she persevere she will do so with fruit.
It is seven or eight days since I have thought of
myself, or seen myself except on the surface ; for so
many souls have addressed themselves to me that
I might see and serve them, that I have had no
leisure to think of my own. It is true that, to
console you, I am bound to say that I still feel
my spirit whole within my heart, for which I praise
God; for in truth this sort of occupation is extremely
profitable to me. How do I wish that it may be very
useful to those for whom I labour !
Live, my dear child, with our sweet Saviour, in his
arms, during this holy Passion-tide ; may he for ever
repose between your breasts, as a sacred bundle of
Letters of the Saint about himself. 4 1 9
myrrh ; it will be to you a sovereign epithem for all
your palpitations of heart. Oh ! this morning (for I
must further say this), presenting the Son to the
Father, I said to him in my soul : I offer you your
heart, O Eternal Father ! deign in its favour to
receive also ours. I named yours, and that of
the young servant of God of whom I spoke, and some
others. I did not know which to push the more
forward, whether the new for its need, or yours for
my affection. Think what a struggle !
So, then, remain always in peace in the arms of
our Saviour, who loves you so dearly, and whose sole
love ought to serve us as a general rendezvous for all
our consolations. This holy love, my child, in which
ours is founded, enrooted, increased, and nourished,
will be eternally perfect and enduring. I am he
whom God has given you irrevocably.
To THE SAME.
He encourages her, by his example, patiently to suffer, that her
gentleness, in domestic contradictions, should be put doicn
Holy Saturday, i^th April, 1607.
O, MY DEAREST CHILD, here we are at the end of the
holy Lent and at the glorious resurrection ! Ah ! how
I desire that we should be raised up again with our
Lord ! I am now going to beg this of him, as I do
420 St. Francis de Sales.
daily ; for I never applied my commuDions so earnestly
to your soul as I have done this Lent, and with a
particular sentiment of trust in this immense good-
ness, that it will be favourable to us.
Yes; my dear child, we must have good courage.
It is no harm for your patience in bearing domestic
contradiction to be attributed to dissimulation. And
do you think that I am exempt from such attacks?
But it is the truth, I only laugh about them when I
remember them, which is but rarely. O God ! indeec
am I not insensible to other accidents and evil insinua-
tions ; how sensitive am I to the injurious and bad
opinions which may be held about me ! It is true
that they are neither stinging nor in great number;
but still I believe that if there were many more of
them. I should riot fail to bear them, by the assistance
of the Holy Spirit. Oh ! courage, my very dear and
well-beloved child. What is needful for us is, that
our little portion of ointment should offend the nostrils
of the world.
To God, my dearest child ; to God let us belong, in
time and in eternity ! Let us ever unite our little
crosses to his great one !
Yesterday (for I must say one more word to you)
after the sermon in the town at \vhich I assisted, I
preached a sermon on the Passion before our religious
of Sainte-Claire. They had begged this very hard of
me. When it came to the part in which I was con-
templating how the cross was laid on the shoulders of
our Lord, and how he embraced it, and when I said
Letters of the Saint about himself. 42 1
that in his cross and with it he acknowledged and
took to himself all our little crosses, and kissed them
all to sanctify them : and when I came to say in par-
ticular that he kissed our drynesses, our contradictions,
our bitternesses, I assure you, my dear child, that I
was much consoled, and had difficulty to contain my
For what reason do I say this ? I know not,
except that I could not help saying it to you. I had
much consolation in this little sermon, at which twenty-
five or thirty devout souls of the town assisted, besides
those of the monastery : so that I had every oppor-
tunity to give the rein to my poor little affections on
a worthy subject. May the good and gentle Jesus be
for ever the king of our hearts ! Amen.
I love our Celse-Benigne and the little Fran9on.*
May God be for ever their God ; and the angel who
has guarded their mother bless them for ever ! Yes,
my child, for it has been a great angel who has given
you your good desires. So may he give you the
execution of them and perseverance. Vive Jesus,
who has made me and keeps me for ever all yours.
* Children of Madame de ChantaU
422 6V. Francis de Sales.
To THE SAME.
He informs her that he is going to visit his diocese ; he congratu-
late* her on her love for sicknesses; hejrromises to write often.
MY DEAREST CHILD, I have your letter of the 6th June,
and I am just now getting on horseback for the Visita-
tion, which will last five months ; judge for yourself
whether I am ready to go into Burgundy, for, my dear
child, this act of visitation is a necessary one for me,
and one of the chief of my charge. I start with great
courage, and from this morning I have felt a par-
ticular consolation in undertaking it, though before,
during several days, I had had a thousand vain appre-
hensions and sadnesses about it. These, however, only
affected the skin of my heart, and not the interior;
it was like those little shiverings which come at the
first feeling of cold. But, as I have said to you
many times, our good God treats me as a very delicate
child, for he exposes me to no rude shock. He
knows my weakness, and that I am not one to stand
such great trials. I tell you in this way my little
affairs, because it does me much good. Oh ! how I con-
gratulate you for truly loving your tertian fever; for
my part I figure to myself that if we had our sense
of smell but a little refined, we should smell our
afflictions all bemusked, and perfumed with a thousand
sweet odours; for although of themselves they are
of unpleasant smell, still, coming out of the hand,
Letters of the Saint about himself, 423
nay, rather out of the bosom and heart of the Spouse,
who is but perfume and balm itself, they reach us
the same, full of all sweetness. Keep, my dear child,
keep your heart very large before God ; walk ever
joyously in his presence, he loves us, he cherishes us,
he is all ours, this sweet Jesus. Let us be all his, let
us only love him, only cherish him, and then, let
darkness, let tempests surround us, let us have the
waters of bitterness up to our chin, so long as he
holds our garments there is nought to fear. I will
often write to you, my dear child, and a thousand
times I will bless you with the benedictions which
God has given to me. Live joyous, whether in health
or sickness, and clasp tightly your Spouse on your
heart. My dear child, my dearest child, to whom I
am what his divine majesty wills me to be, and which
cannot be said. Vive Jesus, for ever ! Amen.
To THE SAME.
Sentiments which he felt in the procession of the Blessed
O GOD ! how full is my heart of things to tell you, my
child, for to-day is the day of the Church's great feast,
in which, bearing our Saviour in the procession, he
has by his grace given me a thousand sweet thoughts,
amidst which I have had difficulty to keep back my
424 -SV. Francis de Sales.
O God ! I put in comparison the High Priest of the
old law with myself, and considered how this High
Priest carried a rich pectoral on his breast, adorned with
twelve precious stones, and on it appeared the names
of the twelve tribes of Israel ; but I found my pectoral
far more rich, though it was composed of only one
stone, that Oriental pearl, which the strong mother
conceived in her chaste womb, by the blessed dew of
heaven ; for, you see, I was holding this Divine Sacra-
ment clasped tightly on my breast, and I considered
how the names of the children of Israel were all marked
on it, yes, the names of the daughters especially, and
the name of one still more.
The falcon and the sparrow of St. Joseph came to
my memory, and it seemed to me that I was a knight
of the Order of God, bearing on my breast the same
Son who lives eternally on his. Ah ! how would I
have wished that my heart should be opened to receive
this precious Saviour, as was that of the gentleman
whose history I told you.* But alas ! I had not the
knife which was needed to cut it open, for it is only
to be opened by love ; I have indeed had great desires
of this love, and I speak for our indivisible heart.
This is what I can say to you. Live all in- God and
for God. I am with him absolutely yours.
* See Love of God, Book VII. ch. 12.
Letters of the Saint about himself. 425
To THE SAME. (MADAME I>E CHANTAL.)
Why he was strong before great attacks. His relish for
The first Thursday, 6th September, 1607.
How many things, my child, should I have to say to
you, if I had the leisure ! for I have received your
letter of St. Anne's day, written in a particular style,
and one which appeals to the heart, and requires an
You are going on well, my child ; only continue :
have patience with your interior cross. Ah ! our
Saviour allows it you, that one day you may know
better what you are by yourself. Do you not see, my
child, that the trouble of the day is made clear by the
repose of the night ? An evident sign that our soul
has need only to resign itself entirely to its God, and
to make herself indifferent in serving him, whether
among thorns, or among roses. Would you really
believe, my best child, that this very night I have had
a little disquietude about something which certainly
did not deserve that I should even think of it !
However, it has made me lose two good hours of
my sleep, a thing which rarely happens to me. But,
further, I was laughing myself at my weakness ; and
my mind saw as clearly as the day that it was all the
disquietude of a mere little child ; yet was there no
means to find the way out of it : and I knew well that
426 St. Francis de Sales.
God wanted to make me understand that if assaults
and great attacks do not trouble me, as in truth they
do not, it is not by my own strength, but by the grace
of my Saviour ; and I lie not when I say that I feel
myself consoled by the experimental knowledge which
God gives me of myself.
I assure you that I am very firm in our resolutions,
and that they please me much. I cannot say many
things to you, for this good father starts in an hour,
and I have Mass to say ; I will leave then all the rest.
You gave me great pleasure in one of your letters by
asking me straight out, whether I was making my
prayer. O my child ! act so ; ask me always the state
of my soul ; for I know well that your curiosity in this
comes from the ardour of the charity which you bear
me. Yes, my child, by the grace of God I can say
now better than before, that I make mental prayer,
because I do not fail a single day in this ; except some-
times on a Sunday, on account of confessions ; and God
gives me the strength to get up sometimes before day-
break for this purpose, when I foresee the multitude of
the embarrassments of the day, and I do it all gaily;
and meseems I have affection for it, and would greatly
wish to be able to make it twice in the day ; but it is
not possible for me.
Vive Jtsus ! Vive Marie ! Adieu, my dear child.
God has made me, without end, without reserve, and
beyond comparison, yours, &c.
Letters of the Saint about himself. 427
To THE SAME.
On tiie death of his young sister, Jane de Sales, mho died
in the arms of Madame de ChantaL
2nd November, 1607.
AH, WELL ! my dear daughter ; and is it not reasonable
that the most holy will of God should be done, as
much in the things we cherish as in others ? But I
must hasten to tell you that my good mother has
drunk this chalice with an entirely Christian con-
stancy, and her virtue, of which I had always a high
opinion, has by much exceeded my estimation.
On Sunday morning, she sent for my brother the
Canon ; and because she had seen him very sad, and
all the other brothers as well, the night before, she
began by saying to him : " I have dreamt all the night
that my daughter Jane is dead. Tell me, I beseech
you, is it not true ?" My brother, who was awaiting
my arrival to break it to her (for I was on my Visita-
tion), seeing this good opening for presenting the
chalice to her, and as she was lying in bed : " It is
true, mother/' he said, and no more, for he had not
strength to add anything. " God's will be done/' said
my good mother, and wept abundantly for some space ;
and then, calling her Nicole, she said : " I want to
get up and go pray God in the chapel for my poor
daughter/' and immediately did what she said. Not a
single word of impatience, not a look of disquiet ; but
428 6V. Francis de Sales.
blessings of God, and a thousand resignations in her
will. Never did I see a calmer grief ; such tears that
it was a marvel ; but all from simple tenderness of heart,
without any sort of passion, yet it was her dear child.
Ah ! then, this mother, should I not love her well ?
Yesterday, All Saints' Day, I was the grand con-
fessor of the family, and with the Most Holy Sacra-
ment I sealed the heart of this mother against all
sadness. For the rest, she thanks you infinitely for
the care and maternal love which you have shown
towards this deceased little one, with as much obliga-
tion to you as if God had preserved her by your means.
The brothers (la fraternite] say as much, who in truth
have testified extremely good dispositions in this
affliction, especially our Boisy, whom I love the more
I well know that you would gladly ask me : And
you, how did you bear yourself? Yes, for you want
to know what I am doing. Ah ! my child, I am as
human as I can be ; my heart was grieved more than I
should ever have thought. But the truth is, that the
pain to my mother and your pain have much swollen
mine ; for I have feared for your heart, and my
mother's. But as for the rest, I will always take the
side of Divine Providence : it does all well, and dis-
poses of all things for the best. What a happiness
for this child to have been taken away, lest wickedness
should alter her understanding* and to have left thi s
miry place before she had got soiled therein ! We
* Wisdom, iv. n.
Letters of the Saint about himself. 429
gather strawberries and cherries before bergarnots aud
pippitis (capendus), but it is because their season re-
quires it. Let God gather what he has planted in his
orchard : he takes everything in its season.
You may think, my dear daughter, how tenderly I
loved this little child. I had brought her forth to her
Saviour, for I had baptized her with my own hand,
some fourteen years ago. She was the first creature
on whom I exercised my order of priesthood. I was
her spiritual father, and fully promised myself one
day to make out of her something good. And what
made her very dear to me (and I speak the truth) was
that she was yours. But still, my dear child, in the
midst of my heart of flesh, which has had such keen
feelings about this death, I perceive very sensibly a
certain sweetness, tranquillity, and a certain gentle
repose of my spirit in the Divine Providence, which
spreads abroad in my heart a great contentment in its
Here, then, are my movements represented as fa.
as I can. But you, what do you mean, when you tell
me that you found yourself on this occasion such as
you were ? Tell me, I beseech you : was not our
needle always turning to its bright pole, to its holy
star, to its God ? Your heart, what has it been
doing? Have you scandalized those who saw you in
this matter and in this event ? Now this, my dear
child, tell me clearly ; for, do you see, it was not right
to offer either your own life or that of one of your
other children, in exchange for that of the departed one.
43 St- Francis de Sales.
No, my dear child, we must not only consent for
God to strike us, but we must let it be in the place
which he pleases. We must leave the choice to God,
for it belongs to him. David offered his life for that
of his Absalom, but it was because he died reprobate
(perdu) ; in such case we must beseech God ; but in
temporal loss, O my daughter ! let God touch and
strike whatever string of our lute he chooses, he will
never make but a good harmony. Lord Jesus ! with-
out reserve, without if, without but, without exception,
without limitation, your will be done ; in father, in
mother, in daughter, in all and everywhere ! Ah ! I do
not say that we must not wish and pray for their pre-
servation ; but we must not say to God, leave this and
take that; my dear child, we must not say so. And
we will not. No, no ; no, my child, by help of the
grace of his Divine goodness.
I seem to see you, my dear child, with your vigor-
ous heart, which loves and wills powerfully. I con-
gratulate it thereon : for what are these half-dead
hearts good for? But it behoves that we make a
particular exercise, once every week, of willing and
loving the will of God more vigorously, (I go further)
more tenderly, more amorously, than anything in the
world ; and this not only in bearable occurrences, but
in the most unbearable. You will find more than I
can describe in the little book of the Spiritual Combat,
which I have so often recommended to you.
Ah ! my child, to speak truth, this lesson is high ;
but also God, for whom we learn it, is the Most
Letters of the Saint about himself. 43 1
High. You have, my child,, four children ; you have
a father-in-law, a dear brother, and then again a
spiritual father: all this is very dear to you, and
rightly ; for God wills it. Well, now, if God took all
this from you, would you not still have enough in
having God ? Is that not all, in your estimation ?
If we had nought but God, would it not be enough ?
Alas ! the Son of God, my dear Jesus, had scarce
so much on the cross, when, having given up and left
all for love and obedience to his Father, he was as if
left and given up by him; and, as the torrent of his
passion swept off his bark to desolation, hardly did
he perceive the needle, which was not only turned
towards, but inseparably joined with, his Father.
Yes, he was one with his Father, but the inferior part
knew and perceived nothing of it whatever : a trial
which the divine goodness has made and will make
in no other soul, for it could not bear it.
Well then, my child, if God takes everything from
us, he will never take himself from us, so long as we
do not will it. But more; all our losses and our
separations are but for this little moment. Oh !
truly, for so little a time as this, we ought to have
I pour myself out, meseems, a little too much.
But why ? I follow my heart, which never feels it
says too much with this dear daughter. I send you
an escutcheon to satisfy you; and since it pleases you
to have the funeral services where this child rests in
the body, I am willing ; but without great pomp,
43 2 St* Francis de Sales.
beyond what Christian custom requires : what good is
the rest ? You will afterwards draw out a list of all
these expenses, and those of her illness, and send it to
me, for I wish it so ; and meantime we shall beseech
God here for this soul, and will properly do its little
honours. We shall not send for its quarantal '* no,
my child, so much ceremony (mysiere) is not becom-
ing for a child who has had no rank in this world ;
it would get one laughed at. You know me : I love
simplicity both in life and in death. I shall be very
glad to know the name and the title of the church
where she is. This is all on this subject. Yours, &c.
To THE SAME.
He sends copies of the Introduction to the Devout Life
for several person*.
End of February, 1609.
MY GOD ! how welcome will you be, my dear child ;
and how dearly do I feel my soul embrace yours.
Start then on the first fine day you see, after your
horse has rested, which, doubtless, cannot well have
been sent back to you till three days ago, on account
of the rains which have fallen in this country. I
wish that you may have a good and happy journey,
and that my little daughter may not suffer from the
fatigue of the road, but arriving in good time in the
* Forty days' mind.
Letters of the Saint about himself. 433
evening, and sleeping well, I hope she will be all
M. de Ballon so greatly desires that you should
make your stay with him, that I am forced to desire
it also, for the good friendship he bears us.
Madame du Puits-d'Orbe had written to say she
wanted to come with you ; but the season is not
proper for her, nor could I wish to have her in
so inconvenient a time as Lent. I wrote to her then
to wait for the true Spring, and to come in a litter,
so that if one of her sisters wishes to accompany her,
she may be able to do so without the dread of having
to come on horseback. I send the one book for her,
the other for Mademoiselle de Traves, according
to your desire. The Father de Mandi asked me for
one : if you give him the one you have, I will give
you a better one here ; besides, we must console him.
I should like to send some to several persons ; but I
assure you that only thirty altogether have come into