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A Short Story of the Disinterested Love of God

2 min • Digitized on December 7, 2021

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 64
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


You know that among the Saints for whom our Blessed Father had a special devotion, St. Louis of France held a very prominent position.

Now, in the life of the holy King, written by the Sieur de Joinville, there is a little story which our Blessed Father used to say contained the summary of all Christian perfection; and, indeed, its beauty and excellence have made it so well known that we find it told or alluded to in most books of devotion.

It is that of the holy woman—whose name, though written in the Book of Life, is not recorded in history—who presented herself to Brother Yves, a Breton, of the Order of St. Dominic, whom King Louis, being in the Holy Land, had sent as an ambassador to the Caliph of Syria. She was holding in one hand a lighted torch, and in the other a pitcher of water filled to the brim.

Addressing the good Dominican, she told him that her intention was to burn up Paradise with the one and to put out the fire of Hell with the other, in order that henceforth God might be served with a holy and unfeigned charity. That is to say, with a true and disinterested love, for love of Himself alone, not from a servile and mercenary spirit; i.e., from fear of punishment or hope of reward.

Our Blessed Father told me that he should have liked this story to be told on all possible occasions, and to have had engravings of the subject for distribution, so that by so beautiful an example many might be taught to love and serve God with true charity, and to have no other end in view than His Divine glory; for true charity seeks not her own advantage, but only the honour of her Beloved.

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