Last year I had the pleasure of studying St. Francis de Sales for my Christian Spirituality class at Franciscan University of Steubenville. In the process of researching and writing a 20+ page paper, I read several excellent books by and about the saint. The following are a few of my favorites:
1. An Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales
This is probably our saint's best known work. Writing to “Philothea” or the “lover of God”, Francis lays out a practical plan of spirituality for the lay person. Francis offers advice on everything from prayers and worthy reception of the sacraments to how to dress modestly and behave at parties. Even though our saint wrote in the seventeenth century, his recommendations are quite applicable to the modern age. This is a must-read for anyone who is serious about living the spiritual life.
2. Letters to Persons in the World by Francis de Sales
Henry Benedict Mackey, O.S.B., edited this collection of Francis' letters to lay men and women living in the world. Again, our saint provides useful guidance for practical spirituality in many different situations. A detailed table of contents will direct the reader to letters most appropriate for his or her circumstances, but it would also be beneficial to read straight through, focusing on a few letters per day.
3. Treatise on the Love of God by Francis de Sales
Be warned! This book is not an easy read. In fact, it is difficult and time-consuming but definitely worth the effort, for Francis guides his readers into the depths and wonders of divine love.
4. The Life of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Prince of Geneva by Peter Hyacinth Gallitia
For me, this two-volume set is the definite biography for our saint. Pretty much everything readers want to know about Francis' life, character, and personal devotion is included in these books. Yes, they are long, but they are also fascinating reading for anyone interested in getting to know Francis de Sales.