stayed in this new world amid the labours of the con-
quests which he was intending to make for his King
and the Church.
In a word, he has ended his days in his duty and
in the fulfilment of his oath.
This sort of death is
excellent, and you must not doubt that the great God
has made it happy for him, as, from his cradle, he had
continually favoured him with his grace to make him
live in a most Christian manner. Console yourself
then, my dearest mother, and comfort your mind,
adoring the Divine Providence which does all very
sweetly : and though the motives of his decrees are
hidden from us, still the truth of his sweet goodness
(debonnairete) is certain to us, and obliges us to believe
that he does all things in perfect kindness.
You are, as it were, on the eve of taking sail to go
to where this dear child is. When you are there you
would not wish him to be in the Indies ; for you will
see that he will be much better off with angels and
saints than with tigers and barbarians. But while
waiting the hour to sail, feed your maternal heart by
the consideration of the most holy eternity in which
he is, and which you are quite near. And instead of
1 20 iSV. Francis de Sales.
writing to him, sometimes speak to God for him, and
he will quickly know all you want him to know, and
will receive all the assistance that you will give him
by your desires and prayers, as soon as you have made
them and lodged them in the hands of his Divine
Christians are very wrong to be so little Christian
as they are, and to break so cruelly the laws of charity
to obey those of fear ; but, my dearest mother, you
must pray to God for those who do this great evil,
and apply that prayer to the soul of your departed.
It is the most agreeable prayer we can make to him
who made a like prayer on the cross, to which his
most Holy Mother answered with all her heart, loving
him with a very ardent charity.
You cannot think how this blow has struck my
heart, for, in fine, he was my dear brother, and had
loved me extremely. I have prayed for him, and will
do so always, and for you, my dearest mother, to whom
I wish to render all my life, in a special manner,
honour and love on behalf also of this deceased brother,
whose immortal friendship comes to beg me to be more
and more your, &c.
Letters to Married Women* 121
To A LADY.
We must not stretch our curiosity so far as to wish to know rchat
is, after death, the fate of a person we have much loved.
MY DEAREST MOTHER, Having received your letter
and message, I will tell you that I know distinctly the
qualities of your heart, and above all its ardour and
strength in loving and cherishing what it loves ; it is
this which makes you speak so much to our Lord of
this dear departed, and which impels you to these
desires of knowing where he is.
But, my dear mother, we must repress these longings
which proceed from the excess of this amorous passion;
and when you surprise your mind in this occupation,
you must immediately, and even with vocal prayers,
return to our Lord, and say to him this or the like :
O Lord, how sweet is your providence ! how good is
your mercy ! Ah ! how happy is this child to have
fallen into your fatherly arms, where he cannot but
have good, wherever he is !
Yes, my dear mother : for you must take great care
to think of no other place than Paradise or Purgatory ;
thank God, there is no cause to think otherwise. Draw
back, then, thus your mind, and afterwards turn it to
actions of love towards our Lord crucified.
When you recommend this child to the Divine
Majesty, say to him simply : Lord, I recommend to
you the child of my womb : but much more the child
122 St. Francis de Sales.
of your mercy, born of my blood, but born again of
yours. And then pass on ; for if you permit your
soul to amuse itself with this object, adapted and
agreeable to its senses and to its inferior and natural
powers, it will never be willing to tear itself away ;
and under pretence of prayers of piety, it will give
itself up to certain natural complacencies and satis-
factions, which will deprive you of the time for
employing yourself with the supernatural and sovereign
object of your love. You must certainly moderate
these ardours of natural affection, which only serve to
trouble our mind and distract our heart.
So, then, now, my dearest mother, let us withdraw
our mind into our heart, and bring it to its duty of
loving God most solely : and let us allow it no frivolous
self-busying, either about what passes in this world or
what passes in the other ; but having served out to
creatures what we owe them of love and charity let us
refer all to that primary, mastering love which we owe
to our Creator, and let us conform ourselves to his
Divine will. I am, very affectionately, my dear mother,
your most faithful and affectionate child, &c.
To A LADY.
On the too great fear of death.
1th April, 1617.
MADAM, On this first opportunity which I have of
writing to you, I keep my promise, and present you
Letters to Married Women. 123
some means for softening the fear of death which gives
you such great terrors in your sicknesses and child-
bearings : in this there is no sin, but still there is
damage to your heart, which cannot, troubled by
this passion, join itself so well by love with its God, as
it would do if not so much tormented.
i. Then, I assure you, that if you persevere in the
exercise of devotion, as I see you do, you will find
yourself, by little and little, much relieved of this
torment ; so that your soul, thus exempt from evil
affections, and uniting itself more and more with God,
will find itself less attached to this mortal life, and to
the empty satisfactions which it gives.
Continue, then, the devout life, as you have begun,
and go always from well to better in the road in which
you are ; and you will see that after some time these
errors will grow weak, and will not trouble you so
2. Exercise yourself often in the thoughts of the
great sweetness and mercy with which God our Saviour
receives souls in their death, when they have trusted
themselves to him in their life, and have tried to serve
and love him, each one in his vocation. How good
art thou, Lord, to them that are of a right heart.
3. Often lift up your heart by a holy confidence,
mingled with a profound humility to wards our Redeemer;
saying : / am miserable, Lord, and you will receive my
misery into the bosom of your mercy, and you will draw
me, with your paternal hand, to the enjoyment of your
inheritance. I am frail, and vile, and abject : but you
124 S^ Francis de Sales.
will love me in that day, because I have hoped in you,
and have desired to be yours.
4. Excite in yourself as much as possible the love
of Paradise and of the celestial life, and make some
considerations on this subject, which you will find
sufficiently marked in the Introduction to the Devout
Life, in the meditations on the glory of heaven and
the choice of Paradise : for in proportion as you
esteem eternal happiness, will you have less fear for
leaving this mortal and perishable life.
5. Read no books or parts of books in which death,
and judgment, and hell, are spoken of : for, thanks to
God, you have quite resolved to live in a Christian
manner, and have no need to be pushed to it by
motives of terror and fear.
6. Often make acts of love towards our Lady, the
Saints, and the Angels : make yourself familiar with
them, often addressing them words of praise and
love; for having much intercourse with the citizens
of the divine, heavenly Jerusalem, it will trouble you
less to quit those of the earthly or lower city of the
7. Often adore, praise and bless the most holy
death of our Lord crucified, and place all your trust
in his merit, by which your death will be made happy,
and often say : divine death of my sweet Jesus, thou
shalt bless mine and it shall be blessed; I bless thee
and thou shalt bless me. death more dear than life I
Thus St. Charles, in his last illness had placed in his
sight the picture of Christ's Tomb, and of his prayer
Letters to Married Women. 125
in the garden, to console himself in this article of
death by the death and passion of his Redeemer.
8. Reflect sometimes, how that you are daughter
of the Church, and rejoice in this ; for the children
of this mother who are willing to live according to
her laws always die happily ; and as says the blessed
Mother (St.) Teresa, it is a great consolation at death
to have been a child of Holy Church.
9. Finish all your prayers in hope, saying : Lord,
thou art my hope, my soul trusteth in thee* My God,
who hath hoped m thee and hath been confounded?-^
In thee, Lord, have I hoped, let me never be con-
founded.% In your ejaculatory prayer during the day
and in receiving the Blessed Sacrament, use always
words of love and hope towards our Lord, such as :
You are my Father, Lord! God! you are the
Spouse of my soul, the King of my love and the well
beloved of my soul. good Jesus ! you are my dear
master, my help, my refuge.
10. Consider often that the persons whom you
love most, and to be separated from whom would
trouble you, are the persons with whom you will be
eternally in heaven : for instance, your husband, your
little John, your father : Oh ! this little boy, who will
be, God helping, one day happy in that eternal life,
in which he will enjoy my happiness, and rejoice over it;
and I shall enjoy his, and rejoice over it, and we shall
never more be separated ! So of your husband, your
* Ps. Ivi. 2. f Eoclus ii. n.
Ps. xxx. I.
120 St. Francis de Sales.
father, and others. You will find it all the more easy
because all your dearest serve God and fear him.
And because you are a little melancholy, see in the
Introduction what I say of sadness and the remedies
Here, my dear lady, you have what I can say on
this subject for the present. I say it to you with a
heart very affectionate towards yours, which I beg to
love me and to recommend me often to the Divine
mercy, as in return I will not cease to pray it to bless
you. Live happy and joyous in heavenly love, and
I am your, &c.
LETTERS TO WIDOWS.
To A COUSIN.
He tells her of her husband's death, and gives her spiritual
2&tk September, 1613.
MY God ! how deceitful is this life. Madam, my dearest
cousin ! and how short its consolations ! They appear
in a moment, and another moment carries them off:
and but for the holy eternity in which all our days
end, we should have cause to blame our human con-
My dearest cousin, know that I write with a heart
full of pain, on account of the loss which I have had,
but still more on account of the lively sense which I
have of the blow which this will be to your heart,
when it hears the sad news of your widowhood so early,
so unexpected, so lamentable.
If the multitude of those who will share your sorrow
could lessen the bitterness of it, you would soon have
128 St. Francis de Sales.
little left : for no one has known this excellent gen-
tleman but contributes a special sorrow towards the
ackowledgment of his merits.
But, my dearest cousin, all this cannot console you
till after the strongest feeling has passed away. While
this lasts God must sustain your soul and form its
refuge and support^ Well, this sovereign goodness,
without doubt, my dearest cousin, will bow down to
you, and will come into your heart, to aid and succour
it in this tribulation, if you throw yourself into his
arms and resign yourself into his fatherly hands.
It was God, my dearest cousin, who gave you this
husband : it is God who has taken him back. He is
bound to be pitiful towards you in the griefs which
the just affections, given you for your marriage, will
henceforth cause you in this privation.
This is, in a word, all that I can say to you. Our
nature is so made that we die at an unforeseen moment,
and cannot escape this condition : wherefore we must
take patience, and use our reason to soften the evil
which we cannot avoid; then look at God and his
eternity, in which all our losses will be made up, and
our union, interrupted by death, will be restored.
May God and your good angel inspire you with
every holy consolation, my dearest cousin. I will beg
it of his Divine Majesty, and will contribute to the
repose of the soul of the dear departed many holy
sacrifices : and to your service, my dearest cousin, I
sincerely offer you all that is in my power, without
reserve. For I am, and wish even more strongly than
Letters to Widows. 129
ever to profess to be, Madam my dearest cousin, your,
To AN AUNT.
Consolations on the death of her husband. The perfection of
true friendship is only found in Paradise.
MADAM MY AUNT, Did I not know that your virtue
can give you the consolations and resolutions necessary
to support with Christian courage the loss which you
have had, I should try to give you some reasons for it
in this letter : if it were required I would bear them
to you myself. But I consider that you have so much
charity and fear of God that, seeing his good pleasure
and holy will, you will conform yourself to it, and will
soften your sorrow by the consideration of the evil
of this world, which is so miserable that but for our
frailty we should rather praise God when he takes
from it our friends than trouble ourselves about it.
It is necessary that all, one after another, should quit
it in the order which is appointed ; and the first are
the best off, when they have lived with care of their
salvation and soul, like my uncle and elder, whose
actions have been so agreeable and profitable to all his
friends, that we, who have been the most familiar and
intimate, cannot refrain from much regretting the
separation. Such sorrow is not forbidden us provided
that we moderate it by the hope which we have of not
130 6V. Francis de Sales.
remaining separated, but in a little time of following
him to heaven, the place of our repose, God giving us
this grace. There shall we form and enjoy without
end good and Christian friendships, which in this world
we have only begun. This is the chief thought our
friends departed require from us, in which thought I
beg you to keep yourself, leaving inordinate sorrow for
souls which have not such hopes. Meanwhile, Madam
my aunt, I have such love for the memory of the
departed, and for your service, that you will greatly
increase the obligation I am under if you do me the
honour to command me in all liberty, and to employ
me in all assurance. Do this, I beseech you with all
my heart, and I beg our Lord to increase in you his
holy consolations, and to fill you with the graces which
are wished you by your, &c.
To MADAME RIVOLAT, WIDOW.
The Saint consoles her in the death of her husband.
LEARNING that you are widowed, my dear daughter,
I suffer with the pain you have suffered; but still I
exhort you not to let yourself be carried away with
sorrow, for the grace which God has given you to
wish to serve him obliges you to console yourself in
him ; and the children of the love of God have so
much trust in his goodness that they never become
desolate, having a refuge in which they find all con-
Letters to Widows. 131
tent. He who has learnt how to draw from that
fountain cannot long remain thirsty from the passions
of this miserable life. I know that you are ill, but,
my dear child, as your pains increase you must in-
crease your courage, thinking that he who, to show his
love for you, has chosen the death of the cross, will
draw you more and more to his love and his glory by
the cross of tribulation which he sends you. Mean-
while I pray our Lord for you and your departed,
and beg you to recommend me to his Divine mercy.
I am in him your humble, affectionate, &c.
To A LADY.
Consolation on the death of her husband. He speaks of her
MADAM, You cannot think how sensibly I feel your
affliction. I honoured with a very particular affection
this dear departed gentleman, for many reasons, but
chiefly for his virtue and piety. How grievous that,
at a time when there is so great a dearth of such souls
among men of his rank, we should see and suffer these
losses, so injurious to the commonwealth.
Still, my dear lady, considering all things, we must
accommodate our hearts to the condition of life in
which we are : it is a perishing and mortal life, and
death which rules over this life keeps no regular
course it seizes sometimes here, sometimes there,
132 St. Francis de Sales.
without choice or any method, the good among the
bad, and the young among the old.
O, how happy are they who, being always on their
guard against death, find themselves always ready to
die, so that they may live again eternally in the life
where there is no more death ! Our beloved dead
was of this number, I well know. That alone, Madam,
is enough to console us; for at last, after a few days,
soon or late, in a few years, we shall follow him in
this passage, and the friendships and fellowships begun
in this world will be taken up again never to be broken
off. Meanwhile, let us have patience and wait with
courage till the hour of our departure strikes to go
where these friends already are; and as we have loved
them cordially let us continue to love them, doing for
their love what they used to wish us to do, and what
they now wish for on our behalf.
Doubtless, my dear lady, the greatest desire your
deceased had at his departure was, that you should
not long remain in the grief which his absence would
cause you, but try to moderate, for love of him, the
passion which love of him excited in you. And now,
in the happiness which he enjoys, or certainly expects,
he wishes you a holy consolation, and wishes you to
save your eyes for a better purpose than tears, and
your mind for a more desirable occupation than
He has left you precious pledges of your marriage ;
keep your eyes to look after their bringing up, keep
your mind to raise up theirs. Do this, Madam, for
Letters to Widows. 133
the love of this dear husband, and imagine that he
asked you for this at his departure, and still requires
this service from you; for truly he would have done
it if he could, and he now desires it. The rest of
your griefs may be according to your heart which is
in this world, but not according to his, which is in the
And since true friendship delights to satisfy the just
desires of the friend, so now in order to please your
husband be consoled ; calm your mind , and raise your
heart. And if this counsel which I give you with
entire sincerity is agreeable to you, put it in practice.
Prostrate yourself before your Saviour, acquiesce in his
ordinance ; consider the soul of this dear departed,
which wishes from yours a true and Christian reso-
lution, and abandon yourself altogether to the heavenly
providence of the Saviour of your soul, your protector,
\vho will help and succour you, and will, in the end,
unite you with your dead, not as wife with husband,
but as heiress of heaven with co-heir, and as faithful
lover with her beloved.
I write this, Madam, without leisure, and almost
without breath, offering you that very loving service
of mine which has long been yours, and also that
which the merits and the goodness of your husband
towards me require from my soiil.
God be in the midst of your heart. Amen.
134 $ Francis de Sales.
To MADAME DE CHANTAL.
Duties of widows relatively to their salvation; means of gaming
Annecy, Feast of the Holy Cross, ^rd May, 1604.
MADAME, I -write to assure you more and more that I
will carefully keep the promise which I made you to
write as often as possible. The more I am separated
from you exteriorly the more I feel myself united with
you interiorly, and I will never cease to pray our good
God to please to perfect you in his holy work, that is,
the good desire and design of reaching the perfection
of Christian life. This desire you must cherish and
tenderly nourish in your heart, as a blessing of the
Holy Spirit and a spark of his Divine fire. I have seen
a tree which was planted by the blessed St. Dominic at
Rome : every one goes to see it, and is fond of it for
the sake of the planter. In the same way having seen
in you the tree of the desire of sanctity, which our
Lord has planted in your soul, I cherish it tenderly,
and take more pleasure in regarding it now than when
present ; and I exhort you to do the same and to say
with me : may God give you increase, O lovely tree !
Divine heavenly seed, may God grant you to produce
your fruit unto maturity : and when you shall have
produced it, may God guard you from the wind which
makes the fruits fall to earth for vile beasts to eat.,
Madame, this desire should be in you like the orange
Letters to Widows. 135
trees of the coast of Genoa, which almost all the year
are covered with fruit and flowers and leaves together,
for your desire should always fructify by the occasions
which offer of fulfilling it every day, and yet your
desire for objects and means to advance further should
never cease. These wishes are flowers of the tree of
your design; the leaves are the frequent acknow-
ledgments of your weakness, which preserve both the
good works aud the good desire. This desire is one of
the pillars of your tabernacle ; the other is love of
your widowhood, a holy love, desirable for as many
reasons as there are stars in heaven, and without which
widowhood is contemptible and false. St. Paul com-
mands us to honour the widows who are widows indeed;*
but those who love not their widowhood are not widows,
save in appearance, their heart is married. These are
not they of whom it is said : Blessing, will I bless the
ividow ;f and elsewhere : God is the judge, protector
;ind defender of widows.% Blessed be God who has
given you this dear holy love. Increase it every day
more and more, and the consolation of it will increase
for you at the same time, since all the building of your
happiness is supported on these two pillars. Look, at
least once a mouth, to see whether one or the other
be not weakened ; use for this some meditation or
consideration similar to that of which I send you a
copy, and which I have communicated with some fruit
to other souls which I have in charge. Do not, how-
f I Tim. v. 3. f Ps. cxxxi. 15.
t Ps. kvii. 6.
136 St. Francis de Sales.
ever, tie yourself to this same meditation ; for I do not
send it you for that purpose, but only to show you the
direction of this monthly exainen and trial of yourself,
so that you may learn more easily to get advantage
from it. If you like better to repeat this same medi-
tation it will not be useless to you; but I say, " \^
you like better/' for in all and everywhere I wish you
to have a holy liberty of spirit about the means of
perfection. If the two columns are preserved and
strengthened, it matters not much how this is done.
Keep yourself from scruples, and rest entirely on -what
I have said to you by word of mouth ; for I have said
it in our Lord. Keep yourself constantly in the
presence of God by the means which you have. Keep
yourself from eager solicitudes and disquietudes, for
there is nothing which more hinders us from journey-
ing to perfection. Throw your heart gently into the
wounds of our Lord, and not violently. Have an
extreme confidence in his mercy and goodness, and
assurance that he will not abandon you ; and for this
cease not to keep yourself to his holy cross. After
the love of our Lord I recommend to you that of his
spouse, the Church, this dear and sweet dove, which
can alone produce and bring forth little doves for the
Spouse. Praise God a hundred times a day for being
a daughter of the Church, like Mother (St.) Teresa,
who often repeated this sentiment at the hour of her
death with extreme consolation. Cast your eyes" on
the bridegroom and the bride, and say to the beloved :
O, to how lovely a bride art thou espoused ! And to
Letters to Widows. 137
the Spouse : O, to how divine a lover art thou wedded !
Have great feeling for all the pastors and preachers of
the Church, and behold them spread over all the face
of the earth; for there is no province in the world
without them. Pray God for them, that while saving
themselves they may procure the salvation of many
souls; and here I beg you never to forget me, since
God has given me such strong will never to forget you.