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St. Francis de Sales: Patron of Journalists and Icon of Mercy in the Modern World

Celebration and Innovation: The Enduring Legacy of St. Francis de Sales in Journalism and Communication

For more than 60 years, the Catholic Union of the Italian Press (UCSI) has celebrated St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists, with events that emphasize the importance of ethics and communication in the journalism profession. These celebrations, recognized by the Order of Journalists for the granting of training credits, are held every Jan. 24, a date dedicated to St. Francis, and in May during Social Communications Day. Modern issues such as family, mercy, fake news, and peace journalism are the focus of these gatherings, attracting journalists of different faiths and beliefs.

Vincenzo Varagona, national president of Ucsi, emphasizes the role of St. Francis de Sales as a key figure in evangelization and communication. The saint faced ecclesial and global challenges with innovative responses, embodying Pope Francis’ call for renewed creativity. With more than 30,000 letters and the founding of the Florimontana Academy, St. Francis de Sales charted a unique course in the Calvinist context of his time, using new media to overcome religious and political divisions.

St. Francis de Sales, despite his losing moments as a speaker, revolutionized communication through his “manifestos,” comparable to modern tweets, which he disseminated to communities. This innovative approach to spreading the faith influenced Pius XI’s decision to proclaim him patron saint of journalists in 1923, a recognition that was later confirmed by Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council.

Gentleness, understanding and sincere dialogue were the pillars of his approach in dealing with others, including heretics. His philosophy was based on kindness rather than strictness. These principles are vividly expressed in his works such as “Philothea” and “Treatise on the Love of God,” which combine linguistic elegance and simplicity, making theology accessible and engaging.

The concreteness of love and charity was central to the life of St. Francis de Sales, as evidenced by his relationship with the deaf-mute Martin, whom he welcomed into his home like a son. Learning the language of gestures to communicate with Martin further underscores his commitment to inclusion and mercy, leading to his proclamation as the patron saint of deaf-mutes.

The life and works of St. Francis de Sales reflect a humane, compassionate and patient approach, with an emphasis on tolerance and self-acceptance. His figure remains extremely relevant today, in an age characterized by “broken hearts” and a desperate search for peace and reconciliation. His legacy continues to inspire and guide journalists and communicators in the 21st century, offering a model of integrity, ethics and commitment to truth. St. Francis de Sales remains a symbol of hope, a spiritual guide for those seeking to navigate the complex world of modern communication.

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