Francis de Sales: Patron Saint of Writers

A real, live photo of Francis de Sales singing the National Anthem.

A real, live photo of Francis de Sales singing the National Anthem.

Francis de Sales

His name might lead you to believe that you’re about to get a really great deal on Amazon, but Francis de Sales is not the Patron Saint of shopping. (There isn’t one, apparently. Any takers?)

Put your credit cards away and pull out your pens, because Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of writers, journalists, and authors, is here to help you with all your literary dreams.

A Life of Letters

Like most parents, Francis’ father probably wanted him to have a stable job. Pursuing your passions is wonderful, but—as any artist knows—you start to have doubts when you find the fridge is as empty as your bank account. So young Francis headed to law school, following in his father’s footsteps and temporarily abandoning his dreams of the priesthood. (He also studied fencing and riding, just like we’d expect our hero to do.)

But politics were not in Francis’ future. He eventually abandoned Law, and fulfilled his dream of becoming a Priest. He was noted for his gentle, tender nature and his letter writing. Francis’ sage advice is honest, kind, and quotable. It’s no wonder that he became a resource for writers—we need a lot of help. Here are some new options for the post-it notes on your mirror:

“True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”

“Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections.”

“Have patience with all things. But, first of all with yourself.”

Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul, except sin. God commands you to pray, but he forbids you to worry.
— Francis de Sales

January 24: A Feast day

A feast day is just that: a day for celebration. Although it’s easy to imagine Catholics as cloistered and conservative, we do, in fact, like to party. (After all, we’ve generously shared both Saint Valentine’s Day and Saint Patrick’s Day with the world.)

You don’t have to have a seven course meal or a vintage bottle of wine in the cellar. We’ll even hold out on the Mardi Gras (Oh look! Another Catholic holiday! Sort of…) beads until March. But take a moment today to celebrate writing—your writing, the authors you love, the words that have inspired you. Celebrate Francis de Sales and all those that come to the aid of writers, be they teachers, spouses, or friends with good advice. Eat a cupcake and throw confetti.

Pray to Saint Francis de Sales

So if you find yourself in a bit of a plot bind this week, you don’t need to spell out SOS with crumpled up bits of your first draft. Just send up a silent request for help to Francis de Sales. It doesn’t have to be formal or stuffy. A quick, “Francis de Sales, please help me figure out this character’s motivation,” should do. You might be surprised at how quickly he comes to your aid.

(If you’re feeling especially motivated, write a letter this week. Write as your future self, say, twenty years down the line, to the person you are today. What would you want yourself to know?)

Saint Francis de Sales, pray for us.