An example of true humility in the life of St. Francis de Sales

January 26, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 148
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

It happened once that a certain simple-minded woman told our saint bluntly that what she had heard of him had caused her to loose all esteem for him. Blessed Francis replied quietly that her straightforward words only increased his fatherly affection for her, as they were an evidence of great candour, a virtue he highly respected.

The woman proceeded to declare that the reason she was so greatly disappointed in him was because she had been told that he had taken her adversary’s part in a law-suit instead of acting as the father of all and siding with none. “Nay,” rejoined the Saint, “do not fathers interfere in the quarrels of their children, judging between right and wrong? Besides, the verdict of the court should have convinced you that you were in the wrong, since it was given against you; and had I been one of the judges I must have decided as they did.”

The woman protested that injustice had been done to her, but the Saint quietly and patiently reasoned with her and assured her that although it was natural that she should feel angry at first, yet, when the bandage of passion had fallen from her eyes, she would thank God for having deprived her of that which in justice she could not have retained.

This person finally admitted that she had been in the wrong, but enquired if Blessed Francis was really not annoyed at her having lost her high opinion of him, having formerly regarded him as a Saint. He assured her she was wrong in having done so, and that, far from being annoyed, his esteem for her was all the greater on account of this, her correct judgment. He went on to say:

Believe me, I am speaking from a sense of truth, and not out of false humility, when I maintain that my friends over-rate me. The fact is, they try to persuade themselves that I really am what they so ardently desire me to be. They expose me to the danger of losing my soul by pride and presumption. You, on the contrary, are giving me a practical lesson in humility, and are thus leading me in the way of salvation, for it is written, God will save the humble of heart.

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