St. Francis de Sales: honey and vinegar

St. Francis de Sales

Today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales (+1622), Bishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Church (so named in 1877) and patron of the Catholic press and journalists (so named in 1923). If you don’t know much about this saint, you will at least have heard and probably said something attributed to him without knowing its source. And even if you did know the source, you didn’t have an accurate reference for it. So, here it is. I originally published this in one of the WDTPRS articles a couple years ago when I was working on the series for all four Eucharistic Prayers.

According to the Louis de la Rivière in his Vie de saint François de Sales (1624 – p. 584), the doctor and bishop of Geneva of St. Francis de Sales (+1622) told friend and prodigy Jean Pierre Camus (+1652) Bishop of Belley: “Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillère de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre… Always be as gentle as you can and remember that one catches more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar."

COLLECT: Deus, qui ad animarum salutem beatum Franciscum episcopum omnibus omnia factum esse voluisti, concede propitius, ut, eius exemplo, tuae mansuetudinem caritatis in fratrum servitio semper ostendamus.

LITERAL TRANSLATION: O God, who desired that blessed Francis the bishop become all things to all men for the salvation of souls, propitiously grant that, by his example, we may show forth the gentleness of your freely given sacrificial love in the service of our brethren. Note the reference to St. Paul’s 1 Corinthians 9: omnia ominbus factus sum.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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3 Responses to St. Francis de Sales: honey and vinegar

  1. Henry Edwards says:

    ICEL version:

    Father, you gave Francis de Sales the spirit of compassion
    to befriend all men on the way to salvation.
    By his example, lead us to show your gentle love
    in the service of our fellow men.

    This version appears to follow somewhat the main train of thought. Though of course the word “soul” is not in ICEL’s vocabulary, love is gentle rather than sacrificial, etc.

  2. Fr John, kudos on the excellent blog. I’m provoked to ask what is going on with the colour of St Francis’s mozetta? Was there an attempt to repiant an episcopal green mozetta purple?

  3. Zadok: I wondered about that myself. However, given the fact that this is an image off the internet and our colors are, well, variable it didn’t worry me too much. Also, I don’t know the provenance of this image. I am guessing that it is really a holy card someone scanned. One thing that occured to me was that, perhaps, the Salesians – founded by St John Bosco but named after the saint in question – may have had a particular habit if made bishop (as many orders did). At any rate, thanks for stopping by!