RMG – Saint Francis de Sales, who inspires the Salesian charism and is a model of humanism for Don Bosco

24 January 2024

(ANS – Rome) – The Oratory of St Francis de Sales was the small seed for the great Salesian work. With the small group of children and young people who were the oratory, Don Bosco founded the new religious congregation which he placed under the protection and patronage of Saint Francis de Sales, so as to give its members the name  “Salesians”.

Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, whose feast is celebrated on 24 January, was always the object of great devotion and admiration on the part of Don Bosco. He became aware of St Francis de Sales during his time at the seminary in Chieri, where he read his fundamental works. What struck him and influenced him most were, on the one hand, his example as an apostle and missionary and, on the other, his meekness and gentleness of manners.

The first oratory founded by Don Bosco was already dedicated to Saint Francis de Sales, and so was the first church built in Valdocco by Don Bosco. And the famous message he spread throughout the world “Da mihi animas, coetera tolle” (Give me souls, take away the rest, which he had also written on a sign posted in his room to always keep it well in mind, was a biblical quote that St Francis de Sales was also said to repeat.

For the Salesians of Don Bosco, Saint Francis de Sales is a model of inspiration for his gentleness, kindness and humility with everyone. And the Salesian Family also comes from the recent re-examination of the figure and spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales, carried out in 2022, on the occasion of the fourth centenary of his death, and celebrated with the Strenna of the Rector Major of that year, inspired by a quote from the Bishop of Geneva: “Do everything out of love, nothing by constraint”.

The Salesian name therefore refers to the Doctor of the Church, not only to his person, but also to his spirit and message, passed on by Don Bosco. On the day of his ordination, he wrote among his priestly resolutions: “May the charity and gentleness of Francis de Sales guide me in everything".

This Salesian sense is seen in all its authenticity in a small treatise he wrote on the Preventive System, whose implementation presupposes the kindness, meekness and gentleness from which, with love, Don Bosco's Salesian spirituality emerges.

The Rector Major Emeritus, Fr Pascual Chávez, assures us that “Saint Francis de Sales has been and continues to be a teacher of spiritual life, rich in wisdom, who does everything for everyone in pastoral charity and is committed to restoring the unity of believers in the bond of peace.”

For the Salesian Family, Saint Francis de Sales is a model to inspire us for his gentleness, kindness and humility towards everyone. Article 17 of the Salesian Constitutions states, almost in imitation of the saint and Doctor of the Church, that the Salesian “inspired by the humanism of Saint Francis de Sales, he believes in man's natural and supernatural resources, without losing sight of his weakness. He is able to make his own what is good in the world and does not bewail his own times: he accepts that is good, especially if it appeals to the young. Because he is a herald of the Good News, he is always cheerful. He radiates this joy and is able to educate to a Christian and festive way of life ‘Let us serve the Lord in holy joy.’”

Source: Misiones Salesianas


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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