Malankara World

The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales

By Jean Pierre Camus


Since the holy death of Blessed Francis de Sales, Prince and Bishop of Geneva, which took place on December 28th, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, in the year 1622, many writers have taken up the pen to give the public the knowledge of the pious life and virtuous conversation of that holy Prelate, whom some have very fitly called the St. Charles of France.

The writer, however, with whom we are most concerned is Monseigneur Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley, whose work we are now introducing to our readers. After the death of Blessed Francis this faithful friend and devoted disciple was entreated, urged, conjured, in season and out of season, by an infinity of persons, to employ the literary faculty given to him by God in communicating to the world the many rare things which he had had the opportunity of observing in the life and conversation of Blessed Francis, under whose direction and discipline he had been for fourteen years.

M. Camus constantly excused himself under the plea that many had already taken the work in hand, and that he did not care to put his sickle into another man's crop, nor to make books by simply transcribing those of others, as is done by many writers of our day. At last, however, he allowed himself to be persuaded by some members of the Order of the Visitation, founded by the holy Bishop, to write the life, or, more properly speaking, to delineate the spirit of his beloved Master.

Having promised to do this, he considered that he had, at least partially, fulfilled his promise by publishing some pious Treatises conformable to the spirit of the holy Prelate. It was, however, afterwards thought better to gather up, and, as it were, glean from M. Camus' own sermons, exhortations, conferences, conversations, books, and letters, that Spirit of Blessed Francis which he had imbibed, in common with all the holy Bishop's disciples and spiritual children.

To make this collection was not difficult, because there was scarcely a sermon, conference, or spiritual lesson given by him in which he did not say something about the Saint, so deeply imbued was he with his instructions.

One of the most intimate and familiar friends of the Bishop of Belley, having given his attention to the matter, now lays before you as the result, this book to which he has given the title: _The Spirit of Blessed Francis de Sales, represented in his most remarkable words and actions._ This holy Bishop was mighty in works and in words; he was not one of those who say much that is good but who do not practice it. To say and to do was with him the same thing, or rather, his doing surpassed his saying....

In this collection offered to you, there is but little formal arrangement, the component parts were gathered up as they fell from the lips or the pen of Monseigneur Camus. It is a piece of mosaic work, a bouquet of various flowers, a salad of divers herbs, a banquet of many dishes, an orchard of different fruits, where each one can take what best suits his taste.

Note.--In this translation an endeavour has been made to group together the sections treating of the same subject. These are scattered, without order, through the three volumes of the French edition.

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