I heard that St. Francis de Sales struggled with a temper problem for many years, but he overcome it. What is the source of this biographical information?

Loiuse M. Stachoople-Kenny's biography, for example, seems to only mention his sweet temper, but nothing about how he fought to overcome his naturally choleric temperament:

Francis never lost his temper, was always patient and good-humoured, submitting with a smile to the constant rebukes of his old tutor, and treating him always with unfailing gentleness and kindness. As a matter of fact, M. Déage really worshipped the very ground his beloved pupil walked on, but like many people, ready to die for those they love, he tantalized and tormented with constant pinpricks, growls and grumbles, the man he loved most on earth; indeed, his affection and his temper would have made life unbearable to anyone less sweet-tempered and kind-hearted than the gentle Bishop of Geneva.

1 Answer 1


Yes, St Francis did struggle with a temper problem for many years but overcame it. The source of this biographical information is presented in Introduction to Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales (Author), Allan Ross (Editor, Translator):

St Francis by the very constitution of his body was of a lively character and inclined to anger. But having proposed to himself to imitate that Jesus who had said: "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart" (St. Matt. xi 29), he was able, thanks to the continuous vigilance that he exercised and the violence to which he subjected himself, to repress and curb the motions of the soul to such an extent as to become a living copy of the God of peace and sweetness.

Fr. Alban Buter's biography of him says:

He was indeed naturally of a hasty and passionate temper, as he himself confesses; and we find in his writings a certain fire and impetuosity which renders it unquestionable. On this account from his youth he made meekness his favourite virtue, and by studying in the school of a God who was meek and humble of heart, he learned that important lesson to such perfection, as to convert his predominant passion into his characteristical virtue. The Calvinists ascribe principally to his meekness the wonderful conversions he made amongst them. They were certainly the most obstinate of people at that time, near Geneva: yet St. Francis converted no less than seventy-two thousand of them.

From St. Jane of Chantal's deposition of him for his beatification and canonization, "32nd Point: Gentleness" (ref:1571.7 of The Saint Francis de Sales Collection):

I have never heard that our Blessed Founder was seen to lose his temper. Once I entreated him to be a little roused by some opposition which was troubling our Convent of the Visitation. He answered: “Would you have me lose in a quarter of an hour the small stock of gentleness which I have been painfully amassing for the last twenty years?” It was, therefore, a common saying that he had actually no gall, and indeed, after his death the surgeons found none, but in its place numbers of little triangular-shaped stones, showing plainly the constraint and force which he had put upon himself to conquer the passion of anger. Indeed he told me once, on an occasion of most justifiable wrath and indignation, that he was obliged to rein in his anger with both hands in order to stop it.

That he had been "painfully amassing" a "small stock of gentleness", "for the last twenty years" (since at least the foundation of the Visitation order in his later adulthood, 1610) shows that since until his 30's or so he had not been "amassing" gentleness.

  • aitía, have you read Patrick de Gmeline's François de Sales, le gentilhomme de dieu?
    – Geremia
    Oct 1, 2021 at 23:37
  • No I haven't yet Geremia, I will now, it may will reveal further insights.
    – aitía
    Oct 9, 2021 at 16:38
  • 1
    Are you a résident du Québec? You can subscribe and borrow the EPUB.
    – Geremia
    Oct 11, 2021 at 20:35
  • Were you able to become a member of BAnQ? felix 🥳 🎉 in Conceptione Immaculata Beatæ Mariæ Virginis!
    – Geremia
    Dec 8, 2021 at 21:58
  • 1
    Yes I was. gratus sum
    – aitía
    Dec 9, 2021 at 1:50

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