Sub-Saharan Africa, 24 January, 2023 / 11:15 am (ACI Africa).
Jan. 24 marks the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and Christian unity whose role as a priest and bishop helped bring thousands of Protestants back to the Catholic Church.
In the late 16th and early 17th century, St. Frances de Sales conducted spiritual direction both in person and in written correspondence. This inspired his famous work “Introduction to the Devout Life.”
During his ministry in Switzerland, he wrote and distributed religious tracts that made inroads among Protestants and helped between 40,000 and 70,000 return to the Catholic faith.
Because he is a patron saint of writers, his feast day traditionally marks the release of the Pope’s annual message for World Communications Day. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 message reflected on social networks and their potential to strengthen unity and harmony between people. He also warned that these enable a mindset that rewards popularity, rather than rewarding what has intrinsic value.
St. Francis de Sales was no stranger to unpopularity. As a priest he volunteered to lead a mission to return the Calvinist Switzerland back to the Catholic faith. He faced much hostility, including death threats and would-be assassins.