One day he had a memorable encounter with the Baroness Jane Frances de Chantal who was the mother of four children and a widow. At the age of 28, she had lost her husband as the result of a hunting accident. The relationship between Francis of Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal developed to a deep spiritual friendship. The bond that unified them was their shared love of Christ and their aspiration for saintliness.

 

Together with Lady de Chantal, Francis of Sales in 1610 founded in Annecy (Savoy, Italy) the Order of the Visitation for widows and girls who are physically too weak to follow the strict asceticism as it was rule in established women’s orders. Established as an Abbess, Jane Frances began, with prudence and devotion, to build a community based on Love,  Humility and cordial goodness. As long as Francis of Sales was alive she had with him a rich correspondence and in him a helpful counsellor.

 

The last years of his life Francis of Sales devoted his attention and talent to the guidance of Souls. During this time he wrote his main theological opus THEOTIMUS, that is, a “Treatise on the Love of God”. It is a mystic work, which guides blessed souls into deepest communion with God. Precondition for the mystic communion with God is the attitude of “demand nothing, refuse nothing”. Persons should strive to ask nothing from God or from fellow men. On the other hand, they should never refuse a request from others, but devote themselves to giving. This attitude provides holy peace and preserves the peace of heart. For “if one puts oneself into the presence of God, one stays there forever”.

 

Francis of Sales died on the 28th of December 1622. In 1665 he was canonised, and recognised as a “Teacher of the Church” in 1877.

 

 Jane Frances de Chantal died on the 13th of December 1641 and was canonised in 1767. Her place of internment is next to that of St. Francis of Sales in the Basilica of Annecy.