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St. Francis de Sales on being an organ donor

2 min • Digitized on January 24, 2022

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 146
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


Since our Blessed Father was not, like the martyrs, privileged to offer his body, both by living and dying, as a victim for God, he found out, with the ingenuity of love, a method of self-humiliation and self-sacrifice to be carried out after his death.

When quite young and still pursuing his studies at Padua, falling dangerously ill, and his life being despaired of, he begged his tutor to see that when he was dead his body should be given into the hands of the surgeons for dissection. “Having been of so little use to my neighbour in life,” he said, “I shall thus at least, after my death, be able to render him some small service.”

Happily for us, God in His great mercy spared this precious life, being contented, as in the case of the sacrifice of Isaac, with the offering of His faithful servant’s will and with his generous contempt for his own flesh.

A motive which urged Blessed Francis to the above resolution, besides his desire of self-humiliation and immolation, was the hope of putting an end to the scandalous practice then prevailing among the surgical and medical students at Padua of secretly by night going to the cemeteries to disinter newly-buried bodies.

This they did when they had failed to obtain those of criminals from the officers of justice. Innumerable evils, quarrels, and even murders resulted from this practice, and the indignation of the relatives and friends of the deceased persons whose corpses were stolen may be imagined. By setting the example of a voluntary surrender of his own body for dissection our Blessed Father hoped to diminish such orders.

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