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The Dynamics of Love

By Susanne A. Kjekshus Koch

This article is a revised version of a paper submitted to the special seminar on the Heart of Christ from Francis de Sales to Margaret Mary Alacoque in Annecy, France September 17th to 23rd 1996. It is based on my cand. philol. [1] thesis on Francis de Sales and the devotion to the heart of Christ. [2]


The Image of the Heart

Many scholars today claim that symbols transmit a message even when their meaning escapes the consciousness. This is because the symbols speak to the unconscious, which absorbs the meaning of symbols through our inculturation and socialisation. [3] To get a closer understanding of a symbol as it was used centuries ago, it is necessary to acquire as much knowledge as possible of the culture of the era concerned. Modern research on mentality has shown that our contemporary idea of the world and of human nature may be a serious impediment to a complete understanding of history because the way we see the past it is «coloured» by our language, concepts and world view.

The paradigm of the time Francis de Sales lived in is the context of 16th century theology and philosophy as well as the baroque mentality, which is characterised by a certain double movement: A call for introspective sincerity and an intense desire for expression. In baroque art this is seen in the choice of powerful effects meant to move the spectator to experience the greatness of God. The image of the heart is by these standards well suited as a symbol in the baroque mode of expression, since as a concept it is the manifestation of sincerity and devotion, and as a religious image it has great expressive and artistic power. It could even be suggested that heart’s movement, always contracting and expanding, corresponds to the baroque longing for introspection and expression.

The medical profession of those times had a different understanding of the heart than what we have today. They were educated according to the works of the second-century physician Galenus, and nothing of significance had been added to his teachings in the centuries since they were written. [4]

The antique medical theory of humoralism (from a Greek word which designates any fluid or juice) was still an important part of the medical science. [5] Hippocrates of Cos is considered the father of humoralism. This theory states that health and temperament are decided by the equilibrium of the body’s four constitutional fluids. The fluids correspond to the four elements and to four basic temperaments in the following way: blood corresponds to the sanguine temperament and to fire, phlegm to the phlegmatic temperament and to water, bile to the choleric temperament and to air, and black bile to the melancholic temperament and to earth. [6]

As blood was associated with fire, it was considered the carrier of heat. This is why the heart was so often depicted as a burning and smoking furnace. The heat of the heart influenced a persons spirit as well as the body. The heart was, by its fire, thought to maintain life and warmth in the body, and it was seen as the seat of consciousness, wisdom, courage, will and love. This means that it was not only the most important organ of the body, but also as the physical seat of the most central properties of the psyche.

At the time of Francis de Sales, the use of symbols was inspired by the renaissance neo-platonism. [7] According to the thoughts of this school of philosophy, every aspect of the created world is a symbol revealing an aspect of the creator. In this way it is possible to gain understanding of the divine by contemplating the mundane. This also applies to the human body, since it is created in the image and likeness of God. Moreover, before the final victory of the «objective» worldview of modern science, the line dividing the physical reality, the symbol and its psychological content, its meaning, was not so clear-cut as it is today. The physical aspect on the one hand and the psychological or mystical aspects on the other hand, were often, but by all means not always, thought of as one and the same.

William Harvey is known as one of the fathers of the modern mechanistic idea of the heart as a blood-pumping muscle, and in 1616 he put forward the hypothesis of blood circulation. However, he was obviously influenced by the neo-platonic mysticism of the renaissance, as he could write passages such as this one:

«The heart is the beginning of life; the sun of the microcosm, even as the sun in his turn might well be designated the heart of the world; for it is the heart by whose virtue and pulse the blood is moved, perfected, made apt to nourish, and is preserved from corruption and coagulation; it is the household divinity which, discharging its function, nourishes, cherishes, quickens the whole body, and is indeed the foundation of life, the source of all action... The heart, like the prince of a kingdom, in whose hands lie the chief and highest authority, rules over all.» [8]

The heliocentric worldview was a result of neo-platonic speculations placing an image of God, the sun, in the centre of the macrocosm, [9] and in accordance with this, Harvey places the heart—as an image of God—in the centre of the microcosm, i.e. of man. Francis de Sales probably never read Harvey, but these thoughts are typical of the mentality thriving in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Studying Francis de Sales, it is important to keep in mind that texts of mystical theology normally are meditative. The rhetoric is not the issue in such texts. The writer circles around images which express a specific theological point, and this point is not primarily understood by analysing the structure, logic and exposition of the text. It is understood by dwelling upon the images as the text itself does, and by meditating upon them in the way the text invite us to do. These are texts where much of the meaning is to be found in the details, and where images are chosen because of the many rich allusions they give.

The Dynamics of Love

The dynamics of love is at the centre of Francis de Sales’ use of the image of the heart: He quotes Saint Augustin who says that the human heart is made for God, and cannot rest except in him. [10] He writes about the heart of God:

«True God, Theotimus, how amorous is the divine heart for our love! Would it not have been enough for him to give public permission whereby he would grant us leave to love him, just as Laban permitted Jacob to love his fair Rachel and win her by his services? No, he gives stronger expression of his passionate love for us. He commands us to love him with all our strength so that neither thought of his majesty and of our misery, which makes so infinite a disparity and inequality between him and us, nor any other pretext would turn us away from loving him.» [11]

The heart of man longs for God and the heart of God longs for man. This is the dynamics of love, and its objective is unity. This is surly mysticism and mystical theology, which Francis defines as: « speak to God and to hear God speak in the depths of the heart.» [12] For him, the heart is where mystical theology is born, and he uses the heart as a symbol to introduce us to the dynamics of love.

In his mysticism of the heart, I see four elements: 1) God's movement towards mankind through the heart of Christ, 2) the movement of the human heart towards God, 3) the union of the human heart with that of God, and 4) the union of human hearts in holy friendship.

In my thesis, these dynamics of love were the structure of my analysis of the way Francis de Sales used the image of the heart. In the context of this seminar, it seems natural to focus on the heart of Christ.

God’s Movement Towards Mankind

God's love is the source of all our love, and he is the one taking the initiative in the lovestory between him and us. For this reason, the heart of Christ is the starting point of the dynamics of love. [13] Christ is the incarnation of the Godhead, which means that he is the embodiment of God, who is love. Because he is Love incarnated, he is the standard by which all love is measured. Since love has its seat in the heart, Christ's heart is the symbol of this love.

It is an important property of this love that it makes the lover shift his gaze from himself to the beloved. As a consequence, none has greater love than he who gives his life for his friends. [14] It follows from this that the love of God is most profoundly revealed in Christ crucified, and to Francis de Sales he is the best teacher of the dynamics of love: «Mount Calvary is the true school of love.» [15]

The Movement of the Human Heart Towards God

A central point in Francis de Sales’ thinking is that all men and women are created with a longing for God, and that we all want to love God more than anyone else. [16] When we receive the love of God, it is natural to perceive this love as an invitation. When the human being accepts this invitation, an upward movement towards God is accomplished.

By means of the incarnation, God challenges mankind to move towards him in love, and the upward movement is the answer to this challenge. Once the motion is started, love is moved on by an inner dynamics: The more a person loves, the more love will God place in his or her heart, and in this way the upward motion accelerates. [17] Sin can chase love away and stop the movement, but repentance can bring it back. In this process, God will constantly fill the lover with more love, and in this way, the two are brought closer together, because God is Love.

The Union of the Human Heart with that of God

According to Francis de Sales, love is the answer to humanity’s longing for God, since «love makes lovers equal» [18]. This mechanism is seen very clearly at work in compassion: When Francis observes Christ' agony in Gethsemane, his heart is filled with compassion, which means that he feels sorrow the way Christ did. [19] Love makes the lover feel the pain of the beloved as if it were his own, and in addition it creates a great joy, for the strong identification love accomplishes creates closeness, and unity with the beloved.

For Francis, the lovers in the Song of Songs are among the most important images of the union, accomplished in love, of God and man. The Treatise is full of quotations and little dialogues inspired by this:

«The devout soul says: ‘Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, you are beautiful! You are all desirable; you are even desire itself! Such is my beloved, and he is the friend of my heart, O you daughters of Jerusalem.’» [20]

The tradition of the allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs is older than Christianity itself, [21] and this may be the reason why this controversial work is included in the Bible at all. Certain parts of the Song of Songs are probably older than Judaism itself. This poem — like the similar Sumerian and Egyptian poetry — was originally intended as allegory, and it describes how the Goddess gives her blessings to the land by making love to the King, her son. [22]

It is no wonder, then, that Jews and Christians alike have been convinced that this is a song of divine love, the love between God and the soul. In the Christian mystical tradition, this mystical marriage is not going to be consummated until in the life after death, but for Francis de Sales love can accomplish unity between the lover and the beloved already in this life; when someone is united with Christ crucified through love and compassion, he or she will also have a share of his resurrection even on this side of death through mystical experience.

The movement of man towards his neighbour

Francis de Sales claims that man’s answer to the invitation of God’s love cannot be limited to prayer and meditation. It has to result in concrete acts of love as well. The upwards movement described above has to result in a movement towards our neighbour in which we try to incarnate little pieces of the love of God in human interaction.

For Francis this is absolutely necessary. The longing of humankind is towards the goal of unity with God, but this cannot be accomplished without acts of love, for God is love:

«Real living devotion, Philothea, presupposes the love of God; is in fact that very love, though it has many aspects. In so far as this love adorns the soul and makes us pleasing to God it is called grace; in so far as it empowers us to do good, it is called charity; when it is so perfect that it moves us, not merely to do good, but to do good carefully, frequently and readily, then it is called devotion.» [23]

Everyone has got the opportunity to be devout wherever they are and whatever they do. Devotion means doing the will of God and thus to renounce all self-centred action. According to Francis this is the perfection of human life, demonstrated to us by the last words of Christ: «Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!» [24] However this does not mean the extinction of the self, but rather its transformation:

«The soul that has flowed into God does not die. How could it die by being plunged into life? Yet it lives without living in itself. Without losing their light, the stars do not continue to shine in the sun’s presence, but rather the sun shines in them and they are hidden within the sunlight. So too the soul, without loosing its own life no longer lives when mingled with God but rather God lives in it.» [25]

In choosing the good to the extent of always doing the will of God, lies apparent self-extinction, but this is only an apparent danger, and in reality it is in this choice that the answer to all the longings of humankind is found.

The Heart of Christ

The mystery of the incarnation was essential for Francis de Sales as well as for many of his contemporary theologians, such as Pierre de Bérulle and the French school, and in fact, the incarnation is the source of their mysticism. [26]

Since Christ was as human as any man or woman, his heart was thought to have all the qualities of a human heart, [27] which was believed to be the seat of will, consciousness and emotions. Still, since Christ not only was human, but also divine, his heart had qualities no human heart could ever have; it contained the love and mercy of God himself. For Francis, Calvary is where God’s love is given its true significance; it is for him the mount of lovers [28] and the true school of love. [29] It is hard to overestimate the importance of the passion in his theology. In the pierced heart of Christ crucified, the most extreme human suffering meets with the fullness of the mercy of God.

The Wounded Heart

The fact that the heart of Christ was pierced has several important consequences for Francis de Sales: Firstly, the thrust of the spear represents the outer limit of the suffering of Christ, as his heart—his centre—was penetrated. Secondly, the wound reveals the fact that the heart of Christ had been wounded by love before the thrust of the spear. Thirdly, the wound effected that the Heart of Christ for all posterity is exposed and accessible for anyone who seeks it. I will now examine these points closer.

The devotion to the heart of Christ has its roots in the Medieval devotion to the five wounds of Christ. [30] [31] Francis advises Jane to make a habit of this kind of meditation, and it is obvious that he considers the wounded heart to be the core of it:

«Le soir, avant souper, j’appreuve un petit de recollection, avec cinq Pater noster et Ave Maria aux playes de Notre Seigneur. Or, la recollection se pourra faire avec une entree de l’ame en l’une des cinq playes de Notre Seigneur pour cinq jour; le sizieme, dans les epines de sa couronne, et le septieme, dans son costé percé, car il faut commencer la semaine par la et le finir de mesmes; c’est a dire, les Dimanches il faut revenir a ce ceur.» [32]

But what significance does this physical wound have to Francis? One important implication is that the heart, the innermost centre of the eternal Word of God has suffered human pain. The whole story of the Passion shows how Christ is tormented and humiliated both physically and mentally. The wound in the heart shows that he was spared nothing, and consequently that God cannot be said to be distant from any form of human suffering.

The wound also demonstrates that Christ in fact was dead:

« sorte que le capitaine des soldats vint pour savoir s’il etait vrayment trespassé, et voyant qu’il l’estoit, il commanda qu’on luy donnast us coup de lance au costé. Son costé estant ouvert, l’on vit qu’il estait vraiment mort, et de la maladie de son coeur, cela veut dire de l’amour de son coeur.» [33]

Many would find it natural to mention the water and blood that poured from the wound, but Francis does not do so. To him, the central importance is in the wound itself, and in the fact that Christ endured even this for the sake of love. The violence continued even after his death, for even when it was obvious that he was dead, the soldier was ordered to pierce him. The spear penetrated the heart that had upheld Christ’s life, the human incarnation of the Word of God.

Francis de Sales says that death without the love of the Saviour and love without the death of the Saviour are both unhappy circumstances. Love and death are so interconnected in the Passion that we cannot have the one in our hearts without the other. [34] If you let the love of Christ into your heart, his death follows. When we are united with him in love, we cannot avoid experiencing that our own hearts are pierced by a spear of compassion and identification. As this compassionate identification grows, the spear kills everything in our heart that is not love.

In the prayer that concludes the Treatise, Francis says: «Ah, come Holy Spirit, and inflame our hearts with your love! To love—or to die! To die—and to love! To die to all other love in order to live in Christ’s love so that we may not die eternally.» [35] The insight that it is necessary to die in order to live is one of the basic principles of Christian faith, and this is particularly important in Christian mysticism. This mystical death comes from the longing for God, the beloved. The effect of this longing is that one abandons the life that is based on selfish love and in this way suffers death to live with God at the centre. It is appropriate to mention that Francis agreed with Saint Paul that the ultimate goal of Christian life is to be able to say: « is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.» [36]

Like so many other theologians and mystics [37], Francis held that the heart of Christ was wounded by love long before the thrust of the spear. The physical wound has a mystical parallel. It is a fact for Francis that love wounds the hearts, [38] and when the spear pierced Christ's side it was apparent: «Son costé estant ouvert, l’on vit qu’il estait vrayment mort, et de la maladie de son coeur, cela veut dire de l’amour de son coeur.» [39] Here, again it is clear how closely love and death are connected in the passion of Christ. This is also obvious in the following text:

«Theotimus, behold the divine Redeemer stretched upon the cross as on a pyre of honour! On it he dies of love for us, but with a love more dolorous than death itself, or by a death more loving than love itself.» [40]

By letting the concepts of love and death alternately shed light upon each other, Francis shows how intimately they are related in his theology. For him, love will always be coupled with the death of Christ and with the death of our own selfish will. Likewise, death, even our own, is always marked by the love of Christ when we perceive it rightly. For Francis, both death and love are given new and radical meanings as they are bound together in the death of Christ.

«Oh, how great was the flame of love that burned in the heart of our gentle Saviour, since at the height of His suffering, at a time when the vehemence of His torments seemed to take from Him even the power of praying for Himself, He succeeded through the strength of his charity in forgetting himself but not his creatures, and in a strong and intelligible voice uttered these words: Father, forgive them.» [41]

This text aptly illustrates the ancient belief that love has its seat in the heart and is one with the heat and fire of life residing there. It also shows how the attention of Christ, even in his most intense suffering, was on his fellow human beings. His love for humankind was always stronger than his affliction, and this love has its source and seat in his heart.

Francis also tells how the sorrow over Peters denial pierced the heart of Christ, [42] as did the hardness of those who mocked him on the cross. [43] When the heart is physically wounded, it is a symbolic manifestation of the pain of love not returned. Even at Francis' time, the medical doctors were taught that a heart could literally burst from sorrow. For Francis it is obvious that the pain must have been much greater in Christ than in any other because his love was of a different proportion. He was Love itself, and his objective was to be united with all through love. He knew what they dismissed when they rejected his love, and this knowledge causes the wound in his heart.

The Open Heart

In the Middle Ages the Heart of Christ was seen both as a refuge, as well as a source of comfort and strength for the devout. Francis de Sales shared this conviction, as can be seen in this text:

«See how he makes himself be seen through the wounds of his body and the opening in his side, as through windows, as through ‘a lattice through which he himself looks out’ at us. [44]

Yes, truly, Theotimus, God’s love is seated within the Saviour’s heart as on a royal throne. He beholds through the cleft of his pierced side all the hearts of the children of men. His heart is king of hearts, and he keeps his eyes fixed on our hearts. Just as those who peer through a lattice see clearly while they themselves are only half seen, so too the divine love within that heart, or rather that heart of divine love, always clearly sees our hearts and looks on them with his eyes of love, while we do not see him, but only half see him.» [45]

It is significant that the first sentence includes a quotation from the Song of Songs. Christ is identified with the lover in the Song of Songs, and this draws the attention of the reader to the fact that the relationship between God and each human being is meant to be a relationship of love. This kind of allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs is important to Francis from the time when he heard Génébrards lectures on the subject in Paris in 1584. [46]

How should this text be understood? Christ can no longer be seen, as when he was alive, so we can no longer see the wound in his side or his heart in through the open wound. When Christ died on the cross, he surrendered everything, both his outward dignity and his inner peace and wholeness. On the cross he endured the greatest sorrow and pain, even in the depth of his heart, and he did it out of love for us, and in obedience to the Father. This is the reason why his heart is the king of hearts, and because of this he can «keep his eyes fixed on our hearts.» For he knows all the properties and the movements of the human heart. He knows its conditions even in the most extreme situations, since he himself has experienced it all. Because of this, the wound in his heart is a window he can see through, and because of this he can see all the hearts of men clearly. Love wounded his heart in every conceivable way, so that he is aquainted with everything a human heart can harbour. In this way, his death can be said to make the incarnation complete. [47]

In the text, when Christ makes himself seen to humankind through the wound in his side, this is because it is in the capacity of being wounded that we feel him closest to us: Out of all the aspects of his revelation, we can probably identify most closely with the wounds. It is his wounded heart, the heart of Calvary, which best can teach us the most important lesson of Christ, the lesson of the love of God, because «Mount Calvary is the true school of love.» [48]

When Christ appears before the apostles after his resurrection, he allows Thomas to place his hand in the wound. This is how Francis describes it:

«Il mit donque ses doigts dans les cicatrices sacrées de son Sauveur. Mais que pensez-vous que fit de bon Saint? O certes, il n´y a point de doute que quand il l’eut touché il sentit une grande chaleur divine, principalement quand il mit la main dans de pretieux cabinet des tresors de la Divinité, quand il toucha ce sacré coeur tout ardant d’amour...» [49]

To Francis, Christ is really alive and full of love even after being pierced by the spear. For him, the red hot, glowing love is the hallmark of Christ, and it is evident from the text that he thinks this is what made Thomas recognise the Lord. In modern exegesis, this is certainly stretching the text to its limits, but for Francis this was the most natural conclusion: Christ can be known by his heart which glows from love, and it is out of this heart that he knows us, as it is familiar with every human condition.

This scene where Thomas is allowed to place his hand in the wound of Christ is to Francis a description of the closeness that man and God longs for, like lovers long for closeness. The text shows us that the wound in the heart gives man access to the innermost region of Christ. To Francis this is one of the most important qualities of the heart of Christ: that it is always open to those who seek unity with it through prayer and meditation.

This is a property of the heart of Christ which has been central throughout the history of this devotion. An excellent example is this prayer of William of Saint-Thierry (1085-1148):

«The treasures of your glory, Lord, were hidden in your heaven. But when your Son, our Lord an redeemer was hanging upon the cross, the soldier opened his side with the spear and the sacraments of our salvation poured out as blood and water. Now we do not only place our finger or our hand in his side like Thomas did. We enter through the open gate, all the way in to the shrine of your soul where all the fullness of God dwells, and all our comfort and salvation. Lord, open the gates of the ark and let your chosen ones enter. Open the door of your body, that all who desire the secrets of the Son can enter. And let them drink of your hidden wellsprings, and let them taste the price of redemption.» [50]

This prayer is clearly medieval in character. This is seen in the very concrete way it treats the images and in the emphasis it puts upon the humanity of Christ. The legacy of this is evident in Francis de Sales’ writings.

Gentle and Lowly of Heart

The theology of the Heart of Christ found in the writings of Francis de Sales is not exclusively focused on the pierced heart of the crucified Lord. Another central aspect evolves from Matthew 11:29: «Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart.» Gentleness and lowliness are among the virtues that Francis cherishes the most, and this is his favourite biblical quotation about Christ. [51] In the Introduction to the Devout life , he writes:

«The holy chrism, traditionally used in the Church for confirmations and consecrations, is composed of olive oil mingled with Balm, symbolizing , among other things, two virtues which shone out in our Lord and which he particularly loved and recommended, that by practising them ourselves we might better imitate him: learn from me; I am gentle and humble of heart .

Humility perfects our relationship with our neighbour. Balm ... always sinks to the bottom in all liquids and so represent humility; olive oil always floats to the top and symbolises the gentleness which rises above all things and is pre-eminent among the virtues, being the flower of charity, which, St Bernard says, is most perfect when it is not only patient but also meek and gentle. Make sure, however, Philothea, that this mystical chrism, composed of gentleness and humility, is truly in your heart.» [52]

This way of using examples is very popular with Francis de Sales. It is an important aid when he popularises theology to make it understandable to as many as possible in his great circle of influence. It is also distinctive to the baroque, and gives the text a characteristic exuberance.

Gentleness and lowliness are compared to the contents of the costly chrism. In this way Francis shows how precious these virtues are in his opinion and that they ought to mark all the children of the church.

To Francis these are the foremost virtues of the heart of Christ. What is essential is that each person transforms his or her heart after the model of the heart of Christ by imitating these virtues. To achieve this, self-abandonment and asceticism are necessary, but first of all by inner self-chastisement, not primarily by means of long fasts and other physical torments. Even though he was no opponent of moderate asceticism, he thought it a contradiction in terms to seek humility by performing impressive acts of piety.

To achieve the virtues of the heart of Christ, he did not consider it necessary to wait for the right occasion to perform total self-abandonment. That could mean waiting for a long time. On the contrary, we are to practise gentleness and lowliness in all the activities and encounters of everyday life, as Christ did.

According to Francis, to be pleasant to an unpleasant neighbour is preferable to the performance of daily physical mortification. [53] This is mainly because this kind of challenge is always present, and we could overlook it or loose our tempers when for example is fasting. It is of little use to be faithfully looking out for the chance to be a martyr if this makes us overlook countless opportunities to forget ourselves for the better of our neighbour.


What kind of theology is illustrated by the heart-image? It is mystical theology with the love of God at its centre; it is the theology of the dynamics of love. This can be summed up in the following fashion:

  • The heart of Christ is the core of the incarnate word of God. This means that it is both truly human and truly divine. It harbours divine love and human emotions, it is where human suffering and divine mercy meet.

  • The fact that the heart of Christ is wounded also means that it is open and accessible to everyone as a place of refuge and a source of strength and comfort.

  • Because it is wounded, the heart of Christ is a symbol of mystical death. Love has pierced it and penetrated the will which resides there so that only the will of the Father exists in it.

  • The heart of Christ is an image of compassion. Christ loves all of humanity and seeks their redemption. His heart is wounded by the thought of all those who remain isolated and unredeemed because they turn their back on his love.

  • Since it is closely associated with the virtues of gentleness and lowliness, the heart of Christ is a model of self abandonment. To practise these virtues means, like Christ, to take upon one self what the circumstances of life brings. Faithfulness to these little virtues of the Heart of Christ is the main road to a Christ-like life in Salesian spirituality.

  • The wound in the heart implies that Christ knows all kinds of pain and sorrow, which means that he is familiar with the harsh circumstances of human life. [54]

These are principal elements of Francis de Sales’ theology of the heart of Christ. They are in line with his general emphasis on the incarnation and the passion. The passion can be said to be the focal point of his theology, and his theology of the heart of Christ certainly has its centre here.

See also Susanne's presentation on Francis de Sales and the Sacred Heart given at the 18th Annual Conference on the Spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal at the Georgetown Visitation, Washington D.C., August 3-6 2000.


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Sales, Saint François de: Oeuvres de Saint François de Sales, evêque de Gèneve et docteur de l’eglise, edition complète d’apres les autographes et éditions originales... publiée... par les soins des Religieuses de la Visitation de Premier Monastère d’Annecy, 1892-1964.
Sales, Francis de: Introduction to the Devout Life , Anthony Clarke, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire 1990.
Sales, Francis de and Chantal, Jane de: Letters of Spiritual Direction, selected and introduced by Wendy M. Wright and Joseph F. Power, O.S.F.S. , Paulist Press, (The Classics of Western Spirituality), New York/ Mahwah, 1988.
Sales, François de: Philothea eller veiledning til et gudfrygtigt liv , St. Olafs trykkeri, Kristiania 1892.
Sales, S. Francis de : A Selection from The Spiritual Letters , Rivingtons, London/Oxford/ Cambridge 1880.
Sales, St. Francis de: The Mystical Exposition of the Canticle og Canticles, from the 6th serier of his Opuscules on ‘Ascetisism and Mysticism ,’ revised edition, Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, Center Valley 1996.
Sales, St. Francis de: The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent Given in 1622 , Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Illinois 1985.
Sales, St. Francis de: Treatise on the Love of God , vol. I, II, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Illinois 1975.
Stierli, Josef (ed.): Heart of the Saviour , Herder and Herder, N.Y. 1957.
Venard, Marc et. al. (ed.): Die Geschichte des Christentums. Religion, Politik, Kultur: Die Zeit der Konfessionen (1530-1620/30) , Herder, Freiburg, Basel,Wien 1992.
Wright, Wendy M.: « Birthing Jesus: A Salesian Understanding of the Christian Life» i Studia Mystica , vol. XIII, nummer 1, vår 1990 ss 23-44.
Wright, Wendy M.: Bond of Perfection, Jeanne de Chantal & François de Sales , Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah 1985.
Wright, Wendy M.: «‘That Is What It Is Made For’: The Image of the Heart in the Spirituality of Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal» i Callahan ss 143-158.

[1] Cand. Philol is a Norwegian university degree comparable to, but more extensive than, a MA degree.
[2] Susanne A. Kjekshus Koch: Frans av Sales og Jesu-hjerte-fromheten, hjertet som religiøst bilde i utvalgte tekster av Frans av Sales (Francis de Sales and the Devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Heart as a Religious Image in Selected Texts of Francis de Sales.) University of Oslo, Faculty of theology 1996 (unpublished). Most of the quotations from the texts of Francis de Sales are from the English editions listed in the bibliography. This is because I have not had access to the Annecy Edition during the writing. As some of the quotations are from texts that I do not posses in translation, Father Joseph F. Power O.S.F.S at the DeSales Resource Center at Stella Niagara, USA was good enough to help me to get hold of the original French text from the Annecy Edition .
[3]Mircea Eliade: «Methodological Remarks on the Study of Religious Symbolism» in Mircea Eliade and Joseph M. Kitagawa (ed.): The History of Religions: Essays on Methodology . Cp. the writings of Carl Gustav Jung and Joseph Campbell.
[4] For details on Galenus and ancient ideas about the heart cp. John A. Abruzzese: The Theology of hearts in the Writings of St. Francis de Sales , pp. 20-55.
[5] Vivian Nutton: «Humoralism» in W.F. Bynum and Roy Porter (ed.): Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine , vol. I, pp 281-291.
[6] For a look at the four temperaments in the context of Christian spirituality, see Jordan Aumann: Spiritual Theology , pp 140-145.
[7] At the time of Francis’ studies in Padua this city was an important centre of renaissance neo-platonism, and according to Lajeunie, he was influenced by this in several ways. E.J. Lajeunie O.P.: Saint Francis de Sales, the Man, the Thinker his Influence , pp. 93-97.
[8] From Stephen F. Mason: A History of the Sciences , pp. 220-221.
[9] Cp. Copernicus and Kepler.
[10] St. Francis de Sales: Treatise on the Love of God (Treatise) 3:6 (vol. II, p. 179). The number in the brackets refer to the edition in the listed litterature.
[11] Treatise 2:8 (vol. I, p. 121).
[12] Treatise 6:1 (vol. I, p. 270-271).
[13] In The Theology of Hearts in the Writings of St. Francis de Sales Abruzzese treats the heart of God and the heart of Christ separately. I find that the heart of God and the heart of Christ are two terms for the same reality, and that, for all practical purposes, the two are one just like their love is one.
[14] John 15:13.
[15] Treatise 12:13 (vol. II, p. 280).
[16] Treatise 1:15 and 1:16 (vol. I, pp. 90-95).
[17] Treatise 3:2 and 3:3 (vol. I, pp. 165-173).
[18] Treatise 5:5 (vol. I, p. 247).
[19] Treatise 5:5 (vol. I, p. 247).
[20] Treatise 5:1 (vol. I, pp. 233-234), cp. the Song of Songs 1:15 and 5:16.
[21] Martin H. Pope: The Song of Songs , p 184.
[22] Anne Baring and Jules Cashford: The Myth of the Goddess, Evolution of an Image , pp 479-485.
[23] St Francis de Sales: Introduction to the Devout life , (Introduction), I:1 (p.7).
[24] Luke 23:46.
[25] Treatise, 6:12 (vol. I, p. 302).
[26] However, Francis de Sales does not have a lot in common with the French school.
[27] Cp. p. 1.
[28] Treatise 12:13 (vol. II, p. 281).
[29] Treatise 12:13 (vol. II, p. 280).
[30] Michel Meslin: «Heart» in Mircea Eliade (ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion , vol. 6, p. 236.
[31] The devotion to the wounds and the blood of Christ are an important part of the roots of the devotion to the Heart of Christ, and in this way, the devotion to the Heart of Christ is related to the legend of the holy grail. For an closer look at this relationship and an analysis og all the symbols and images involved, see Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz: The Grail Legend .
[32] Annecy Edition , vol. 12, p 358.
[33] Annecy Edition , vol. 9, p 80.
[34] Treatise 12:13 (vol. II, p. 281).
[35] Treatise 12:13 (vol. II, p. 281).
[36] Galatians 2:20.
[37] For instance the Dominicans of medieval Germany. See Josef Stierli (ed.): Heart of the Saviour , pp. 77-87.
[38] Treatise 6:13 and 6:14 (vol. I, pp. 302-309).
[39] Annecy Edition , vol. 9, p 80.
[40] Treatise 7:8 (vol. II, p. 37).
[41] The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent Given in 1622 , p. 189.
[42] The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent Given in 1622 , p. 191.
[43] The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent Given in 1622 , p. 201.
[44] Song of Songs 2:8,9.
[45] Treatise 5:11 (vol. I, p. 263).
[46] This is obvious throughout the Treatise. See also his Mystical Exposition of the Canticle of Canticles , from the 6th series of his opuscules on ‘Asceticism and Mysticism.’
[47] See for example Treatise 10:17 (vol. II, p. 191): «He poured himself completely into us and, so to speak, dissolved his grandeur so as to reduce it to the form and figure of our littleness.»
[48] Treatise 12:13 (vol. II, p. 280).
[49] Annecy Edition , vol. 10, pp. 409-410.
[50] Bønnebok for den katolske kirke (the prayer book of the Catholic Church of Norway) p 283, my translation.
[51] Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction , p. 62.
[52] Introduction, III:8 (p. 111).
[53] Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction , p. 63.
[54] Even if this includes the most severe temptations, it does of course not include sin.

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