Today we celebrate the liturgical feast of Jeanne de Chantal. In this year we also remember that she was born 450 years ago on the 28th of January 1572. Jeanne her life is linked to the figure of Francis de Sales, her director and spiritual guide, of whom she was a follower and at the same time inspirer and collaborator. With the help of Francis de Sales, she gave life to a new foundation dedicated to the Visitation, the love for God and the assistance of the poor and the sick.
(Photo credits: Claude Mellan, Sainte Jeanne Frémiot de Chantal, around 1641, Metropolitan Museum for Art, New York, USA)
Many congregations, organizations, and institutions are inspired by the spiritual legacy of Saint Francis de Sales, but Francis himself founds only one order. It is in the year 1610 when Saint Francis de Sales founded the Order of the Visitation of Saint Mary in Annecy together with Saint Jeanne de Chantal. Afterward, and very soon in the 17th century, other congregations that had Francis de Sales as their patron saint was founded, but the Visitation, starting in Annecy and soon spreading in the kingdom of France and other countries are the only one founded by the bishop.
We are delighted that the order of the visitation will also be present at the congress in Rome this fall and that a sister of the visitation will come to tell us about the foundation of her order and the Franciscan inspiration.
The origins of the “Saint Francis de Sales Association” date back to 1872, when Abbé Henri Chaumont and Caroline Colchen Carré de Malberg (picture), on October 15, founded the “Daughters of St Francis de Sales” in Paris. It was to be an association of lay people living in the world for the service and glory of God according to the spirit of Saint Francis de Sales.
Abbé Chaumont can be called a true disciple and promotor of the spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales. He discovered writings of the bishop of Genève when he was in the seminary in d’Issy-les-Moulineaux and later in Saint-Sulpice. He founded in 1872 the Société des Filles de Saint François de Sales (Saint Francis de Sales Association) with later on will give origine to the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, in september 1876 la Société des prêtres de saint François de Sales, and in november 1876 the Société des Fils de saint François de Sales
In 1911, the Holy See approved the Saint Francis de Sales Association. The Association is a spiritual family that seeks the personal holiness of its members.
The history, the spirituality, and the pastoral activity of the Saint Francis de Sales Association will be presented at the convention in November as one of the 15 institutes inspired by the spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales.
(Picture credits: G. Bernoville, Madamme Carré de Malberg. Fondatrice de la Société des Filles de Saint François de Sales, Paris, Grasset, 1951)
Today we celebrate the liturgical feast of Saint Philip Neri. Francis de Sales was, and that is the least we can say, an ardent admirer of Saint Philip.
In the “Treatise on the Love of God,” Francis de Sales writes: “The Blessed Philip Neri, at fourscore years of age, had such an inflammation of heart through divine love, that the heat making the ribs give way to it, greatly enlarged them, and broke the fourth and fifth, that the heart might receive air and be refreshed.” (Book VI Chapter 15)
They are often depicted together in art. This drawing is by Baroni Giuseppe and is located in Palazzo dei Filippini in Lodi.
Today the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians celebrate the feast of their cofounder: Maria Domenica Mazzarello. From the beginning of their existence, Don Bosco wanted St. Francis de Sales to be the patron saint of the institute of the sisters, together with Teresa of Avila, as you can see in the picture of the first draft of their constitutions. At the conference in November we will hear more detailed how the spirit of Francis de Sales fits into their charism.