Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did you know writers have a saint?

What if I told you there was a writer so determined to draw attention to his writing he posted it on walls, slipped it under doors and handed pages to anyone he could? Crazy? Some might say so. But it’s also a model of persistence, courage and faith. And as it happens, the man nailing those pages onto walls was writing, in fact, about faith. He was Francis De Sales, a writer so prolific and powerful he was proclaimed the Patron Saint of Writers and Journalists in 1665 by Pope Alexander VII. And his Saints’ Day is celebrated today - January 24th!

So writers at all stages can take heart!

De Sales wrote his whole life without ever being formally published. But his books, as we know them today, have not gone out of print in almost four centuries. (And they all enjoy an Amazon sales rank any writer would envy.)

De Sales was born in 1567, the eldest child in an aristocratic French family. His father had ambitions that his son should study law and theology, for which he eventually received doctorate degrees. After his studies were complete, he was expected to marry and take a position in the Senate. But De Sales refused and turned his attentions to his truest passion – a ministerial life.

For years, no one would listen to him. No one would open the door when he knocked. So he found a way to get under the door. He wrote out his sermons and slipped them under the door.

His most famous book, Introduction to the Devout Life, is a collection of many of those letters and passages.

Today, the weary or discouraged writer, or anyone in need of encouragement, can look to St. Francis’ example of persistence in the face of rejection. So if you are waiting for that agent or publisher to call, perhaps a nod heavenward to St. Francis today wouldn’t hurt.

Following are some wonderful passages I discovered within his writings.

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

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew.”

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”


Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY: the story of one man's attempt to understand his wife and her sudden descent into madness.

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