St. Francis de Sales, our Patron, was born on 21st August 1567 at Thorens, Savoy, near Geneva in Switzerland and Annecy in France. The parents of Francis were Francis de Sales, generally known as Monsieur de Boisy and Francoise de Sionnaz commonly known as Madame de Boisy. Monsieur de Boisy, by his life, example and firm guidance taught Francis to be an honest, sincere, frank, straightforward and courageous boy with a great sense of justice, kindness, generosity and integrity. From his father, he learned a manly devotion while from his mother he inherited a kind, compassionate and affectionate heart and tender devotion.
In 1573, Francis was sent to a school at La Roche, near Thorens when he was six years old. From 1575, he continued his studies in the school of Chappuis at Annecy. On 17th December 1575, he made his First Communion and received Confirmation. Thereupon he made two major resolutions: he would visit the Blessed Sacrament everyday and would try to learn from the saints how they attained sainthood. On 20th September 1578 Francis received tonsure as he desired to become a priest and belong to the Church entirely.
In September 1578, Monsieur de Boisy sent Francis with his cousins to Paris for higher education. Francis joined the college of Clermont run by the Jesuits. There he studied literature, philosophy and learned arts like fencing, riding, dance etc., befitting nobles. He followed courses in theology for his own satisfaction.
From December 1586 to January 1587, Francis underwent a terrible crisis. There were several causes: his natural tendency to anxiety and the problem of predestination, keenly discussed in theological circles in those days. Above all, there was a mystical dimension to the trial: an unselfish, pure love of God and total surrender to him in which lay the answer to his problems as he was being tempted to despair of his salvation.
One day in January 1587, Francis went into the church of Saint Etienne des Gres. He went to the chapel of our Lady and knelt down in front of the statue. He was inspired to make an unconditional surrender of his salvation to God. Then he saw there a card with the prayer Memorare: “Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary He took it and earnestly prayed it. He was instantly healed. The temptation vanished. Strength and confidence returned to him.
In 1588, Francis completed his studies in Paris and returned to Savoy. On 26th December 1588 he was sent to Padua, to pursue his studies further. He had only a short stay at home. In Padua, he studied civil and ecclesiastical law. He also followed courses in theology.
In January 1591 Francis became very seriously ill and received viaticum. There was scarcely any hope of recovery. All the same he was healed. On 5th September 1591 he completed his legal Studies for a Doctorate in law and passed the examination with such great success that he won the admiration of his own professors and of all present. In February 1592 Francis returned to Savoy. He wanted to become a priest. His father was strongly opposed to it. On 24th November 1592 not to displease his father, he enrolled himself as an advocate at the Bar of Chambery.