St. Francis de Sales (His Life Story - Patron of the Deaf)

St. Francis de Sales was born on August 12, 1567 in Savoia, France. He belonged to a rich family.

On the feast of St. Thomas, December 21, in the Cathedral of Annecy in the year 1593, he said his first Mass. His parents were among those who received Holy Communion from his hand.

Some time later, the Bishop sent St. Francis de Sales to preach among the Protestants and many were converted. A few years after that, he was made Bishop of Annecy in France. It was in Annecy where he met Martin, a beggar.

St. Francis felt pity for Martin, because he was helpless, lonely and isolated in his deafness, and so he brought him to the convent and took care of him. He tried hard to communicate with him by means of signs and taught him about the Christian faith. Soon, deaf Martin became a good Christian and received the benefits of the sacraments with the loving help of St. Francis. The two became very close to each other and Martin stayed with the saint until the latter died.

St. Francis died in the year 1622 in Lyons, France at the age of 56 years. After the death of St. Francis de Sales, deaf Martin was very sad. He felt his life had lost its meaning with the death of his dear friend. A few weeks later, deaf Martin became weak and sick until he died because of sadness. He went to Paradise together with his teacher and protector.

The body of St. Francis was embalmed and taken, except for the heart, to Annecy. After the French revolution his remains were removed to prevent desecration and returned later to a reconstructed convent.

He was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1877. His heart was preserved in the Church of the Visitation in Lyons, France, in a golden reliquary given by Louis XIII.

The close relationship of the two friends touched many hearts and opened many eyes to see the needs of the deaf. Martin symbolized the helplessness of the deaf who are often isolated in society and are pitifully ignorant about the news of the salvation. St. Francis symbolizes the love and care that each of us should have for the deaf, a love that could bring them back to the fold of society and could open their ears so that they may know Jesus Christ cares for them, too. For this reason, Pope Pius IX made St. Francis de Sales the Patron Saint of the deaf.

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