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These works have been placed online so that those of a Catholic as well as a Protestant and Gospel faith might become more familiar with the points of controversy, the resources and methods, the debate itself and the manner in which the Church and her theologians have historically managed the discourse in defense of tradition and Church law over the simple faith of the Gospel that was originally preached.

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HOME > Library > Books > Willis Nevins, The Persecutions of Protestants by St. François de Sales (1880)

"The Persecutions of Protestants by St. François de Sales"

(A generally suppressed Chapter of History.)

by Willis Nevins




Francis de Sales counsels the Duke of Savoy:

"He, who said to His Apostles, 'Go, teach all nations,' gave only to them the right of teaching. Public education belongs to the priests - for the lessons which take precedence of all others they alone can teach."

"Give a free exercise to thought when it is on behalf of defence of truth. [Liberty is in one direction but not in the other. This is one of the points Protestants make against Catholics. Of course a Religion which claims infallibility can logically be more intolerant than one which only offers truth as a probability.]"

"A prince does less harm in permitting robbers to be abroad than in allowing the sale of a bad book. The damage which robbers cause is transitory, the latter is re-echoed through many ages."

"If you believe it for the good of religion to banish (chassér) Protestants from the public offices, do not hesitate."

"Consent then, Prince, to extirpate from the country which Heaven has given to you this gnawing canker, which sooner or later will cause its dissolution."


When first I came across the apparently treacherous and persecuting acts of the Saint, I was perplexed because he had been canonized. I have since learned from able and learned Catholics that a canonized Saint may be in hell, or may not have any existence. Also that a Pope only acts on evidence produced, and so may be uninformed or misinformed. And yet once again, canonizations are not infallible acts of Popes. This is lucky, and I accept these statements with gratitude; they wipe away a number of historical difficulties which I previously felt, such as the wisdom of invoking St. John Nepomuk, who never existed; or a Grand Inquisitor like St. Peter Arbues, whose friendship in this life I certainly should have avoided.

Willis Nevins


When a Catholic takes up his pen to write, as he declares, a more truthful account of certain chapters in the life of a Saint, his readers will be inclined to say that he is ignorant or presumptuous. Let me therefore relate how it comes to pass that a subject so often written upon has so attracted my attention that it has become, in my estimation, necessary to add a fresh page to the Salesian literature. In September, 1878, appeared an article in Macmillan's Magazine, entitled, "Two Sides to a Saint," by the Rev. L. Woolsey Bacon. I read that article with profound astonishment, which was increased by seeing that no denial of the facts stated came from either the Catholic or Anglican Church press. Let me relate very briefly the purport of that article.

Mr. Bacon declares that what he calls the "Salesian" literature is not trustworthy; that quotations are mitigated by English editors, and statements modified ''with a view to edification." He ends his article with the following sentence: "That writer would render a good service, not only to history but to practical religion, who should give the world a true picture of Francis de Sales, with all his singular graces and with all his crying faults; and so supersede the myriads of impossible fancy-portraits with nimbus and wings, with eyes rolling in mystical rapture, and with the everlasting smirk of 'sweetness' and gentleness."

What was the cause which led Mr. Bacon thus to depreciate the numerous lives of the Saint, and wish for more honest biographies? It was simply that he declared the modern lives were untrustworthy because they suppressed or altered many important facts related in earlier lives of the Saint. For example, he accuses de Sales of jilting a girl, after gaining her affections, all the time not meaning to marry her; of deceiving his parents for years as to his life; but chiefly he says that de Sales did not convert the thousands in which the modern saint-writers glory, and that his mission at Thonon in the Chablais was carried out not by "sweetness," but that he was treacherous, persecuting, and made converts not by argument but by physical persuasion.

I doubted the accuracy of this article and determined to test it myself. He referred, I observed, to two well-known writers of the life of the Saint, both Catholics and both ardent admirers of de Sales; the Abbe Marsollier, and Loyau d'Amboise. He also praised a modern essay by a Protestant, Alexandre Guillot of Geneva, called "François de Sales, et Les Protestants, Fragments historiques et biographiques" (Geneve, 1873). From the London Library I got Marsollier (Paris, 1821. J. J. Blaise), and from my publishers the Life by Loyau d'Amboise (Paris, 1833. Blaise). That by Guillot I also, easily procured.

What was my astonishment to find that the two Catholic writers, in the most seraphic ignorance of any possible dislike to what they described, gloated over the very actions which Mr. Bacon had blamed the Saint for doing! The conclusion is very obvious. The modern writers [Mr. Bacon gives a catalogue of them in Macmillan for September, 1878.] probably knew these writings (if not they wrote while grossly ignorant of the very subject on which they undertook to enlighten the public), but thought the more fastidious taste which now dislikes persecution and treachery would be best consulted by omitting such proofs of sanctity. I will most briefly relate the life of François de Sales till his advent in the Chablais; from that date not a statement shall I make which I will not confirm from Marsollier or d'Amboise.

1. The Secular Life of De Sales

François de Sales was born the 21st of August, 1567, [Marsollier, i.] at the Château de Sales, which was one of the well-known old houses of Savoy. He was baptized in the Church of Thorens, and was extremely delicate, "comme il était né à sept mois." In Ember week of September, 1578, he, with the unwilling consent of his father, ["Cette proposition ne plut point au comte."] received the tonsure which, be it remembered, by no means bound him to a religious life; and considering he was only eleven years old, it might well be looked on as a harmless gratification of a juvenile fancy. After being thus tonsured when, as we should say in England, just out of his short frocks, his parents determined to send him to Paris, to the Collège de Navarre. Perhaps it will surprise my readers to learn that the little boy argued with his parents that he did not wish to go there, but preferred going to the college which the Jesuits had recently started in Paris. His argument is thus given by Marsollier (lib. i.), "qu'il se sentait plus d'inclination pour les jésuites; que ce penchant même pouvait contribuer à le faire avancer dans les sciences, et que dans le fond il devait être fort indifférent au comte son père qu'il etudiât au collège de Navarre ou à celui des jésuites."

He is sent to Paris with a priest named Jean Deage as his tutor or, one might almost say, nurse. On his arrival he goes to the Jesuit College, and "he was judged fit for rhetoric; and during the two years which he gave to it, he made such progress that afterwards he was one of the most eloquent men of the age." [Marsollier, i.]

The marvels of his infantine career are vouched for in the Bull of Canonization. His parents now made him learn to ride, to fence, to dance, and in fact, "géneralement tout ce qui convenait à un gentilhomme de sa qualité." He, however, according to Marsollier, had already made up his mind to be a cleric, and therefore thought such knowledge useless, but to be learnt to please his parents. He studies, while in Paris, Hebrew, Greek, and Positive Theology under Génebrard, and also Father Maldonat, the celebrated Jesuit. His studies continued for six years. A certain Père Ange influenced him in Paris, and forthwith the young Count wears a hair-shirt three days a week. [Marsollier, i.] This priest also, Marsollier thinks, made him entertain the idea of making a vow of perpetual chastity, which he forthwith executed in the Church of S. Etienne-des-Grès. The young boy took thus, without consulting his parents, a most solemn vow, which he knew they never contemplated, as they were giving him the best education as their eldest son, heir to the property, and the intended support of their old age. De Sales now "se mit ensuite sous la protection particulière de la sainte Vierge. II la pria d'etre son avocate auprès de Dieu, et de lui obtenir les graces sans lesquelles il avait appris de ses divines Ecritures qu'on ferait de vains efforts pour garden la continence." He at the same time communicates every eighth day.

After his studies were completed in Paris he returns home to his parents, but so bent is his father to give him the very best education to fit him for the world, that, after a very short stay, he sends him to Padua to study law. De Sales never tells his father of his vow of celibacy, or his intention to become a priest; he deceives his father, and permits him to send him, at great expense, to Padua, to study law; whereas, if he had had any idea of what his son was intending, he would have done very differently. Loyau d'Amboise thus tells the tale: - "Après lui avoir accordé plusieurs jours pour se livrer à ses amitiés et à ses souvenirs, le comte de Sales résolut de l'envoyer à l'université de Padoue. Le docteur Pancirole y tenait la chaire de droit la plus célèbre de l'Europe; et le comte, destinant son fils aux charges publiques, voulait qu'il se formât a son école. François, persuadé quo la volunté de Dieu s'exprime souvent par la bouche d'un père, ne témoigna nulle répugnance. II alla donc a Padoue, ville qui faisait alors partie des etats de Venise."[Marsollier, i.]

He certainly led a very saintly life while studying under Pancirole, and also the world-renowned Jesuit, Possevin. The devices of some of the students, whose moral characters was not of a high order, to lead him into vice, were frustrated by his firm resolve to keep from evil. His life at Padua was most beneficial as far as tuition went; he became an adept at civil and canon law, and took his doctor's degree. [Marsollier, i.] He now thought of returning to his home in Savoy, but his father, bent on his eldest boy being as highly educated as possible, in order that with prestige he might take his place in the world, sent him to Rome. From Rome he went to Venice, which he found so immoral that he hastily left it, one of his friends even having found the temptations of the city irresistible. He now found himself once again at home, having reached the advanced age of twenty-six. [Marsollier.] So little idea had his father or mother of the twice-repeated vow of celibacy which he had taken, that they had already cast their eyes on a young lady who they thought would be a most desirable wife for the young Count. The Count de Sales was not rich., says Loyau d'Amboise, [D'Amboise.] and hence it was a matter of necessity that his son should "marry money." "Le Comte de Sales crut qu'il était temps de réaliser un projet qui avait fait l'objet de ses plus doux rèves. II n'était pas riche, et il avait jeté ses vues sur une héritière d'une grande fortune, qu'il destinait à son fils âiné." His father invited his son to accompany him to visit the young lady, with whom he had already prepared the business arrangements and conditions of marriage. François received the proposal (I am following d'Amboise most carefully) with embarrassment and grief; he was especially grieved because his father had so evidently set his heart upon the match. He did not, however, refuse to be introduced to the young lady, knowing, as he must have done, that the introduction under the circumstances could only bear one meaning. "Ne se sentant point assez fort pour avouer de suite au Comte de Sales sa répugnance à lui obéir, il se laissa conduire chez Mademoiselle de Végy, que celui-ci regardait déja comme sa belle-fille." The young lady was only eighteen, and apparently very charming. They were mutually struck with each other. Note this account by d'Amboise: - "Quand les premiers embarras de sa modestie furent passés, elle leva les yeux et sentit pour lui cette flamme pure que Dieu a permise aux filles des hommes pour les consoler de la réprobation d'Eve. Elle comprit que l'epoux que lui avaient destiné ses parens serait aussi l'epoux de son coeur. Lorsque François de Sales s'éloigna, elle désira qu'il revint bientòt, et le suivit du regard, jusqu'à ce qu'il eût dépassé l'avenue du château de son père." To speak plain Saxon English, the young lady immediately fell over head and ears in love with the young man.

I must ask my readers to excuse the sickening piety which d'Amboise mixes up with his remarks, for it is only by giving full extracts that my readers will be able to realize the treatment of this poor girl by the young Count. "Ce dernier (François) la quittait plus éma qu'il ne l'aurait d'abord pensé. Les vertus de cette demoiselle étaient allées jusqu'à son coeur. II est facile de mépriser la volupté; ses armes s'émoussent sur une ame vraiment chretienne; mais ici, les séductions étaient d'autant plus dangereuses, qu'elles prenaient racine dans ce que les sentimens humains ont de plus pur. . . . Le bonheur que lui promettait la sanctuaire était éloigné; celui que lui offrait le projet de son père était proche." But now comes what seems to me the crucial point. He was not such a fool as not to see that the girl was desperately in love with him - what does he do? D'Amboise goes on placidly, "L'obéissance qu'il devait à son père le ramenait souvent (mark that!) auprès de Mademoiselle de Végy; plus il la voyait plus il sentait que son sacrifice serait pénible . . . Elle ne le voyait jamais sans qu'un sourire indéfinissable fût l'interprète de son ame." In brief, he encourages her and makes love to her. Now what happens. He goes home through a wood and his horse stumbles, and his sword falls from its sheath. "Sur lequel elle se croisa de manierè à former vine croix. Ce prodige se renouvela." This settles the matter; he determines to give her up, and thus atone for what he considers has been weakness on his part. But to do this necessitates his informing his parents of his boyish vows of celibacy. What does he do? He unburdens his mind to his cousin, a priest, who forthwith writes to Rome and procures for François (as yet a layman) the vacant post of prévôt of the Cathedral. Having procured this post of honour and monetary value, he breaks the news to his parents. The scene may be imagined; who will not feel for the poor father as, amid deep sobs, he exclaims "J'avais compté sur vous pour être la consolation de mes cheveux blancs. Voici que mon front devient chauve, et vos frères do tarderont pas à perdre leur appui. Comme l'aîmé de la famille, je pensais que vous leur serviriez de père." &c. &c.

His mother equally grieves, but woman-like turns her thoughts to poor Mademoiselle de Vegy; and when he mentions his vow, laughs at the excuse, saying, "Ce voeu que tu as fait autrefois était un doux élan de l'ame; tu sais aussi bien que moi qu'un mot de l'evêque de Genève pourrait le rompre." Of course he knew it; for a vow such as he had made he could have without difficulty been released from. Rome, when a matter of public necessity or urgent private cause occurs, will release even a priest from his vows! She goes on: "Songe à sa douleur, si elle te voit renoncer à elle, et la repousser de ton ame qui devait être son refuge et son amour. Ses larmes seront amères car elle s'attachait à toi sans nulle défiance." The young man acknowledges he too was in love with her, [St. F. de Sales was evidently fond of ladies' society; even when a Bishop he thus addresses one of his fair friends, "Dearest girl of my heart." (Lettre à une Dame: du 22 avril 1618. Page 182 of this volume of Messrs. Rivington, quoted by Mr. Bacon). He also in order freely to correspond with the Baroness de Chantal gains the permission of her father-director and indites a formal letter to be shown by her to him and then another privately in which he says, "My last letter will help you to quiet the mind of the good father to whom you ask leave to show it. I stuffed it well with things calculated to forestall any suspicion on his part that it was written with design." (Letter 59, quoted by Mr. Bacon.)] "Je ne vous ai point caché les sentimens que m'a d'abord inspirés Mademoselle de Végy.33 &c.

Thus ends the lay life of François de Sales. Mr. Bacon's comment on this affair is somewhat natural. "If Mademoiselle de Végy had happened to have a big brother, the bodily sufferings of Francis for his devotion to the Church might have begun before he had so much as entered on his apostolic work among the fierce Protestants of the Chablais." If it is asked, why produce facts which tend somewhat to give a proof of want of straightforwardness, and in the case of his love affair too little regard for the feelings of others? - it is because just these two points really appear prominently in his character. In the Chablais tragedy we see the same want of openness in dealing with the unfortunate Protestants of Thonon and the surrounding district. Far be it from me or anyone to heedlessly damage the character of one who is no more, but Truth has rights as well as Ecclesiastical Economy.

The Chablais Protestants

Henry II, King of France, had concluded peace with Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy, and the result of the peace was that the Chablais was handed over to the Duke against the wish of the Swiss, but a clause was inserted in the treaty to the effect that the Catholic religion should not be re-established in the Chablais. It is needless to say that the inhabitants of the Chablais were staunch Protestants and were almost under the walls of Geneva, whereas the House of Savoy was Catholic. The Chablais Swiss of course longed to re-unite with their Genevese countrymen, and naturally the Huguenots of France sympathized with their brethren in faith. Thus, to put the matter very plainly, the Duke undoubtedly had in the Chablais Protestants "subjects," but unwilling ones; they always were in fear and trembling lest their faith should be taken from them, and hence placed their trust in the clause of the treaty signed by the Duke of Savoy, which not only permitted them to retain their own faith, but prevented the Duke or any one else from introducing the Catholic religion.

At the time we are dealing with, the Duke was anxious by conversions to turn his Calvinistic subjects into Catholics, and the Bishop of Geneva (the title was kept up, but the Cathedral and Bishop were at Annecy) finally arranged that the young priest with his cousin (also a priest who had procured the post of prevôt for François), should undertake the work of "conversion." François entered on his work armed with introductory letters from the Duke and the Bishop to the Baron d'Hermance, who was governor of the province for the Duke, and who lived in a castle close to the Allines which had a garrison, and was about three miles from Thonon, the chief town of the Chablais. The governor advises François to sleep at the castle, and then to walk into Thonon in the morning and out again at night, as the people would think he was only a Papal emissary who would, by taking away their faith, destroy also their freedom. The Baron remarks that the inhabitants were "dans le fond de fort bonnes gens, simples, grossiers," and goes on to say, "qu'ils ètaient persuadès que la conservation de leur libertè et de leurs privilèges dèpendait de celle de leur religion." [Marsollier, ii.] Marsollier proceeds to talk nonsense about the distance, and hunger, and so on, which de Sales endured in his pilgrimages from Allines to Thonon, "il s'accoutuma dans peu de temps à souffrir la faim, la soif, et toutes les fatigues qui étaient inséparables d'un ministère aussi pénible que celui dont il s'était chargé." It is as well to dispel the horrors which modern and ancient writers love to imagine the Saint underwent. It is perhaps very prosaic, but I open my Baedeker's Switzerland and in his charming tourist's guide learn all about this fearful place. Thonon "rising picturesquely from the lake, the capital of the Savoyard province of Chablais. About three miles to the south of Thonon is situated the small town of Leo Allinges." Also Baedeker remarks that the population of Thonon now (my guide­book is of the year 1877) is 4825. Bear in mind, my readers, when the fabulous thousands of converts which Saint-writers delight to mention are paraded for the delight of Catholics and Ritualists, that now the population of the capital of the Chablais is only 4825!! Alas! how plain prosaic facts explode fancy-histories. [Possibly Thonon might then have been more densely populated, but still the numbers given are very exaggerated.]

Now it is quite possible to dwell on his conversion of the garrison of the Allines, who very possibly were not all or any of them Protestants, but bad Catholics; it is also easy to read in the pages of Marsollier accounts of dangers undergone, converts made, and in fact to relate the fabulous stories with which the religious world has been deluged; but to avoid this lengthy process there is a much easier way of crushing for ever the exaggerations which are so ludicrous, and that is simply by listening to the words of François de Sales himself, who presumably knew what he was talking about.

First of all, before we come to this witness of de Sales, let two facts be borne in mind. When he first went to Thonon the people were furious, and the Baron writes to quiet them, and declares that "en envoyant François de Sales dans la province (the Duke) n'avait point eu intention de donner atteinte à la liberté de conscience, ni à aucun autre de ses priviléges. [Marsollier, ii.]" He goes on to add, that the Duke only had caused these two priests to go to Thonon because there were already some Catholics there and they needed looking after!! The Baron declares that their "liberty of conscience" would not be touched. This was a falsehood, as we shall see.

After de Sales had been there some time, and really done hardly anything, Loyau d'Amboise relates that the conversion of the Baron d'Avully and some others, [D'Amboise] "remplit de joie le due de Savoie. Jusqu'alors il n'avait point aidé ouvertement les généreux efforts de I'apôtre; mais (note the following) voyant les progrès que faisait la foi, il comprit qu'il pouvait paraître. (Quite so, the plot progresses.) Sans prétendre forcer le retranchement des consciences, il resolut de montrer une protection éclatante à la verité." So far no open persecution, conscience so far free, mais - that "mais" tells its own story.

Now we get to François de Sales and his interview with the Duke, who sent for him to Turin. He presented to the Duke a paper upon the conversion of the Chablais, of which d'Amboise gives the following, introducing it to his readers with apologetic words, as he evidently thought they would be horrified at the policy of the Saint: - "J'en extraierai la substance: il me paraît contenir plus de saines idées qu'il n'en a été écrit dans des milliers de livres modemes sur la tolérance et les devoirs des princes en matière religeuse." [D'Amboise]

I translate it as literally as possible, because perhaps a few readers may not know French, and yet if they read only this one memorandum of the Saint to the Duke, it will open their eyes to the falsity of the imaginary conversion by "sweetness" of the Chablais, for be it noticed it was François who urged on the Duke to put in force his views, and never rested till he had made the Duke give way and do what he wanted.

"Prince," [D'Amboise] he said to him, ''there is but one truth. God has transmitted it to our fathers, that it should descend from generation to generation. He judged it necessary to tell men in what way he wished to be adored; it would be insulting Him to suppose that He regards all creeds as of the same value. Princes therefore who are born in the true faith ought to consider it their privilege to protect it. God does not want you to use the sword against His enemies, but, without persecuting them, prevent them from becoming His persecutors. Deliver His Church from the chains they have rivetted on it, check the course of their profanities, and let it no longer be said that under the reign of a Prince, a child of the Church, error is maintained on the altars of truth. It is therefore necessary to give back to Catholics the temples which heresy has snatched from them; it is necessary that the cross should again appear in the face of the world, and no longer be compelled to hide timidly in darkness. - (Let my readers remember that this memoir is all à propos to Thonon and the Chablais.) - If heresy enters en fureur, you will take it in its own snare. Has it not loudly proclaimed liberty of conscience? But what becomes of that liberty if the faithful are forced to dig catacombs and are not able to worship God in the face of day?

"Do not adopt the maxim, injurious to God and man, that children are the property of their parents - (this is curious, and applied by extreme secularists in England as a reason for State schools without religion - children belong to the State!) It is God who gives life, and hence whatever has life belongs to Him. It has been said that man is the slave of his country. She will snatch him from his mother's bosom, who after having suckled him will lose all power over his education. How infinitely grander is not the law which makes them the slaves of God! If for vile profit Lycurgus wrenched sons from their fathers, how much more should that be done when interests so immense are in question? One cannot extirpate by the sword or by laws opinions which have grown with time, but one can prevent their birth. A king should say to fathers: Live in your errors, risk your eternal salvation; but I will not permit you to place the seal of reprobation upon the forehead of your sons. They belong to God before you. When they reach the age of reason, I will not prevent their renouncing, if they wish, their heavenly heritage: until then it will be a crime to put them in the road which leads to death. However, Prince, reasons may be found which prevent your exercising with full power your right. Snatch not the child from the maternal arms if the nature of your treaties - (note this treaty how it slips in, and how de Sales works round to it) - with this people (Thonon, etc.) would give to that act a tyrannical appearance; but at least prevent heresy from opening schools.- (How do these restrictive notions agree with 'liberty of conscience' with the Baron's pledged word to the Thonon people that it was not going to be tampered with?) - Found in the town of Thonon a college in which instruction will be based on truth. It is not necessary to tell you by whom it would be held. He, who said to His Apostles, 'Go, teach all nations,' gave only to them the right of teaching. Public education belongs to the priests - for the lessons which take precedence of all others they alone can teach. Where elsewhere will you find such disinterested care - such Gospel sweetness which touches the hearts of youth? They labour for God and His glory even as laymen do to acquire gold." . . . (He goes on to praise priests and then continues.) . . . "I advise you to give the preference to the Jesuit Fathers. They have a singular talent for making easy the dryness of scientific studies, they know how to make years passed in study the sweetest in a whole life. - (François, it will be remembered, studied under two celebrated Jesuits.) - Besides they pay no less attention to turning out great men for the good of their country than they do to make subjects faithful to their religion.

"Give a free exercise to thought when it is on behalf of defence of truth. [Liberty is in one direction but not in the other. This is one of the points Protestants make against Catholics. Of course a Religion which claims infallibility can logically be more intolerant than one which only offers truth as a probability.] Good books have not created religion, but they have often consolidated it. They are the consolidation of the wise man and the Christian; they make the incredulous think of repentance. A prince ought to make it his glory to favour talent which rests beneath the cross. . . . Prince, fear not to consecrate part of your wealth to spread, even among the poor, useful books. They strengthen faith in weak hearts, for the written word is of more value than the spoken. But the same care you take to favour religious genius, employ also in confining error to itself. Do not give it the right to spread abroad nor to permanently establish itself. The books which heretics have written are the more dangerous inasmuch as they flatter our worst passions. If it was possible to read them calmly, they would make one smile. But that is not possible; their sophisms are blindly adopted, as previously the hearts of the readers have been corrupted. I believe not only that you ought to oppose the public propagation of erroneous thoughts, but even to destroy those which have been already published. - (Thus the Calvinists were to have their publications destroyed and to be prohibited from publishing fresh books.)

"A prince does less harm in permitting robbers to be abroad than in allowing the sale of a bad book. The damage which robbers cause is transitory, the latter is re-echoed through many ages.

"I have already said, Prince, that the Gospel is the enemy of all persecution. Jesus Christ was a model of sweetness, yet nevertheless He chased the merchants from the Temple. If you believe it for the good of religion to banish (chassér) Protestants from the public offices, do not hesitate. Until this is accomplished they will only act as a hindrance to the progress of the faith, and persecute Catholics. You will have no cause to fear, for if error is in its nature oppressive and tyrannical, truth on the other hand preserves a calm and benevolent countenance. And, besides, as a faithful child of the cross if you keep your favours for those who insult it, you will appear to betray it. It is desirable that they should learn that in maintaining heresy they incur your anger, or at least your indifference.

"People often despise those whom the prince despises, and on the other hand are led to imitate as much as possible those whom they see the sovereign applauds. A stumbling block appears inasmuch as ambition will make conversions which do not spring from the heart. These hypocrites will have to answer to God, but - (the Saint is fond of saving clauses) - masked error is less dangerous than that which raises its head. As for the rest, your prudence will be your guide. It would be impossible to perform any good action if obstacles arrested us, for such there will always be.

"After having given to the Church of Thonon its liberty, you will also turn your attention towards the country parishes. For many years they have lingered on without pastors. Their property has been seized and fallen into the hands of the heretics. Doubtless if you restore such to its sacred uses you will create dissatisfaction; but, Prince, does justice listen to the imprecations of the guilty whom she punishes? - (This is simply a request for confiscation of the property of Protestants.) - To leave the heretics wealth criminally obtained, is but to put a premium on crime and violence! Your wisdom will lead you to indemnify those amongst them who have acquired such in good faith; but you know that the pastor of the flock should receive his income. In primitive times, he would knock at the door of the faithful - happy those who opened to him; but in this age would a priest maintain his position if he had to trust to the precarious charity of his parish? It is necessary not only for him to have his daily bread, but to have in reserve the widow's portion. When the orphan comes to seek comfort, one must be able to give him more than tears. . . . By such means, Prince, you will assure the triumph of the faith in the Chablais. I have only hitherto spoken of the interests of God: if I now turn to your own, I, would have you learn that unity of faith in a State is the only guarantee for its stability. Woe to the country in which the citizens are not able to call themselves brethren! Woe to the prince who governs them! Heretical doctrines have this peculiarity that, after having weakened the authority of God, they only give a moving quicksand as a foundation for the throne of kings. Each heretic forms in his own heart his God and his king; he only groans under laws which he has not made; his pride hinders him from submitting to anyone. Wherever heresy has passed, there is left behind blood and ruins; whenever you see her flag, you will find revolt and civil war, for trouble is her element as repose is that of truth. - (This is an attempt to stir up the Duke.) - Consent then, Prince, to extirpate from the country which Heaven has given to you this gnawing canker, which sooner or later will cause its dissolution. The greatness of Princes consists as much in the good they do as in the evil they prevent." [Marsollier shows that the Duke remonstrated with de Sales.]

Thus with a direct request for a suppression of Protestantism ends the memorandum which Fraçois de Sales presented to the Duke of Savoy on the means of promoting Catholicism in the Chablais!

D'Amboise goes on to say that the Duke having read the document with his Council, granted nearly all its requests. He gave the "apostle" letters-patent by which he was put in possession of the church of Thonon, and he promised to arrange with the Bishop of Geneva for placing priests all through the Chablais. [D'Amboise.] On his return, needless to say the Protestants were thunder­struck and angry at this policy, and the request made to them to hand over their church at Thonon. Small wonder that they exclaimed, "Vous êtes venu parmi nous pour y semer la guerre. Comptez vos arniis et comptez les nôtres; de quel côté est le droit et la force?" They go on. [D'Amboise.] "Does the Duke imagine that a nod of his head will change the face of the Chablais? He who should be a protector becomes a tyrant; we will not accept the position of slaves; he has sworn that the Roman superstition should never be re-established, he shall keep his oath or we shall consider ourselves free from ours." Fraçois nevertheless goes to work to transfer their church into one fit for Catholic worship, and of course disturbances occur. Yet having thus violated the treaty and taken possession of their parish church, d'Amboise, when alluding to the burning discontent he thus raised, says, " Cet ange de paix vient présenter sa poitrine aux glaives de l'ennemi." "Angel of peace"! This is surely poetical rather than an exact epithet.

He thus threatens these poor outraged Protestants: - "Vous soupirez depuis long-temps après une collision avec le souverain; vous pensez qu'au premier cri de guerre que vous pousserez contre lui, Genève volera à votre secours. Mais un aigle tient ses yeux fixés sur cette république, il s'abattra sur elle au moindre mouvement qu'elle ferait pour vous soutenir. Cet aigle, c'est la France, et Genève n'est point assez imprudente pour le braver. Peuple du Chablais, levez l'étendard de la rébellion, endormez-vous dans une douce confiance dans vos forces: au réveil, vous vous trouverez seuls en face d'un prince qui, après vous avoir montré long-temps la bonté d'un père, vous traiterai avec la sévérité d'un juge et la code impitoyable d'un conquérant."

Thus he has failed to convert the Chablais, and so gets the Duke to give him forcible possession of Protestant churches, &c. This step rases their anger almost to the point of rebellion, which Fraçois seeing, threatens them with France and the savage wrath of their Prince. Can any Englishmen say conversions carried on in this fashion are due to the "sweetness" of the Saint or the "Apostolic labours" which English readers of hot-house lives the Saint have been wont to contemplate?

Marsollier distinctly says that de Sales' mission had been a failure. He tells the Duke: - Qu'il y avait plus de deux ans qu'il était dans le Chablais par ordre exprès du prince; qu'il n'y avait aucune voie de douceur et d'accommodement qu'il n'eût propôsée, et qui n'eût été rejetée avec une obstination invincible: qu'il ne consiellerait jamais qu'on usât de violence: mais qu'on se trompait assurément, si I'on croyait établir la religion catholique dans le Chablais en n'employant pas d'autres moyens que ceux dont on avait usé jusques alors.'' [D'Amboise.] These remarks made to the Duke to persuade him to sanction the memorial I have translated, are an ample exposé of the absurd theories and falsehoods which are believed of the Saint's wonderful conversion of the thousands of Protestants by preaching and praying.

When a writer like Mr. Jervis, in his "History of the Church of France" (Murray, 1872), talks about "the instructions of Fraçois and his companion, so long scorned, were sought with avidity, and received with admiring gratitude," and "the details of the movement read like the records of a miraculous age; six hundred individuals are said to have yielded to the matchless eloquence and pathos of a single discourse of Fraçois de Sales: some of his biographers estimate at 72,000 the number of those who were reclaimed from Zwinglian and Calvinistic error during his mission to the Chablais," one is inclined to ask, did he know and suppress the facts I have brought forward, or did he not know them? By the way, the town of Thonon, the chief town in the Chablais, has now a population of 4825: from whence came the 72,000 persons in a mountainous, sparsely inhabited country?

The next striking scene in this eventful history is the despatch to Thonon of the notorious Spanish regiment, commonly known as the Martinengo regiment, famous for its slaughter of men, women and children, and poor old Protestant clergymen, a few years previously. This regiment is quartered in Thonon, and doubtless aided the Saint in his "sweet" conversions.

But now comes the climax. The Duke of Savoy himself follows this regiment, and the despair of the population is, with charming simplicity, thus recorded by Marsollier: - [Marsollier. livre iii.] "Les prierès de quarante heures étaient à peines finies que le due de Savoie arriva à Thonon. Ce fut un coup de foudre pour les hérétiques. Ils s'étaient flattés jusque-là de l'espérance que quelque accident somproit son voyage; mais le voyant sur les lieux, ils ne doutèrent plus de ce qui arriva dans la suite." We see by this how well the poison which de Sales had so carefully instilled into the (at first unwilling) ears of the Duke had done its work. Marsollier goes on: - "La hauteur et la froideur avec laquelle il repondit à leurs compliments, et les caresses qu'il fit aux Catholiques, de quelque condition qu'ils fussent, achevèrent de les en convaincre." The Duke was immediately followed by Cardinal de Médicis. Indeed, Marsollier, relates that the Cardinal informed de Sales, "Qu'il voyait le duc si bien intentionné pour le rétablissement de la religion Catholique, qu'on ne devait pas douter qu'il n'employât toute son autorité pour en venir à bout, sans qu'il fût besoin de l'en solliciter." De Sales nevertheless wanted the Legate's active support, for he declares the Swiss Protestant ambassadors and deputies had come and urged, [Marsollier.] "with warmth, that liberty of conscience should be preserved in the Chablais and the bailliages, and the malcontents joined themselves with these men, and he feared" - I finish in the original, to avoid any escape on the plea of not being exact - "qu'ils ne l'emportassent sur toutes les bonnes intentions du duc." It is perfectly unmistakable that the Duke was a tool in the hands of de Sales. De Sales again urges the Duke to proceed to extremities, and Marsollier, after giving the Saint's arguments, adds: - "L'artifice de ce discours consistait à prendre le Duc de Savoie par son foible. C'était un prince d'un fort grand mérite, mais extrêmement jaloux de son autorité, et qui ne pouvait souffrir qu'on et le moindre soupçon qu'il ne put ou n'osât pas la faire valoir dans toute son étendue. - (De Sales appeals to his jealousy in fact). C'est pourquoi il n'y eut personne dans le conseil qui jugêat que Fraçois obtiendrait infailliblement tout ce qu'il prétendant." The Duke, after listening to these arguments, was so much struck with them that he immediately gave order for the suggestions made by de Sales to him at Turin, to be put in force. Marsollier gives them as follows - (I give them in English as literally as possible) - "that the ministers be driven (chassés) from the states of Savoy; that the Calvinists be deprived of the offices and dignities which they possess, and that they be given to Catholics: that an exact account of the revenues of all the benefices usurped by the heretics, or unjustly possessed by other persons without title and without character, be employed for the restoration of churches and the support of the clergy and Catholic missionaries; that a Jesuit college be immediately founded at Thonon; and that in the Chablais and the bailliages no other public exercise of worship be permitted but that of the Catholic religion."

I think that in future no life of the Saint will be received with any toleration by the English public which expurgates and suppresses this violation of the oath of the Duke of Savoy at the instigation of Saint Fraçois de Sales, and which fails to show that he wilfully and deliberately set to work to raise anger, hatred, and rebellion if necessary, among a quiet people, and then brought in troops to force on them against their will and against solemn treaties a religion which was alien to their faith and wishes. I have, however, yet to relate how the treachery thus sanctioned was put in force. It shall be briefly told. The day after this order was given, [Livre iii.] the Duke ordered the Protestants to assemble at the Town Hall, and lined the streets and place with the accursed Martinengo regiment. Silence being obtained, the Duke harangues them, and declares that although converts have been made, yet he cannot allow rebels to exist who will "se perdre eux-mêmes pour le temps et pour l'éternité," that "he regarded 'ces endurcis' as the enemies of God and particularly as his own opponents"! He winds up by ordering those who wish to be of the religion of their Prince to go to the right, those who will remain obstinate to go to the left. They do so. Then the Duke addresses most amicably the sheep, but the goats he thus harangues: "You, then, wretches, dare in my presence to declare yourselves God's enemies and mine. Go, go out - I deprive you of your offices and dignities and banish you for ever from my states. I prefer to be without subjects than have such as you who always set me at defiance." [Marsollier. iii.] He then signed to his guards, who turned them out.

Marsollier then relates that de Sales with "son extrême douceur" - begged the Duke to let him make another attempt to convert them, and before the day was over Fraçois had convinced them all but a few who passed over to the other side the lake to Nion!

These historic facts I lay before the Catholic and Church of England public, [I shall send a copy to every Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishop in England.] confident that Truth need never fear non-captious criticism. If St. Fraçois de Sales can be cleared of the charge of persecution and treachery, I shall be delighted; but I doubt the ability of anyone to shake or do away with the force of the facts I have adduced.

Marsollier's work was accepted by the Pope, and Loyau d'Amboise received the permission of Monseigneur de Quelen, Archbishop of Paris, to dedicate his work to him. Both writers are madly in love with the Saint, and so no one can accuse me of drawing facts from the works of the Saint's enemies.

Of course I am aware of a difficulty. Is a Canonized Saint and Doctor of the Roman Church supposed, by the fact of his being canonized, to be free from blame such as persecution or treachery will be considered by most persons? I only produce the statements of ardent admirers of the Saint; and as no Pope has declared that acts of canonization are infallible, I consider myself free to make the few comments I have made.

Those who think it wise to maintain the impeccability of "Saints," put a heavy burden on the apologists of the Roman Church. Wiser, surely, to confess that sanctity and morality in a high degree are not incompatible with grievous errors of judgment. [see ENDNOTE]

Willis Nevins.



Our author makes a grievous error in the conclusion of this work when he states: "Wiser, surely, to confess that sanctity and morality in a high degree are not incompatible with grievous errors of judgment," which statement is utterly repugnant to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. The study of history is itself an examination of the fruits of the creeds of men and of societies past; thus, we freely examine the works of men such as Francis de Sales (and the apologetics of men such as Willis Nevins), for these are the very fruits of the creeds that they professed. And we, as followers of Christ and not of that one who claims to stand in the place of Christ, do, in obedience to Christ, examine all such fruits in the light of the Gospel. It is Christ who taught: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven," Mat 7:16-21 KJV. He then, that brings forth "thorns" is he who is not, according to the Gospel, by nature, a fig tree. This is a simple structure and easy to follow. It is also the truth of the Gospel and not "probable truth," for no Protestant ever taught that the Gospel was "probable truth," but truth indeed. And the Words of God are true and are not at all confounded for the fact that the "apologists of the Roman Church," as our author states, have a difficult time of their history.

Let us consider further, the teaching of the Gospel: "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." 1 John 3:10-15 KJV

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Gal 6:7 KJV

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor 6:9-10 KJV

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom 12:19-21 KJV

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Mat 5:43-45 KJV

Hail & Fire, 2008

"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." 1 John 3:10-15 KJV
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