Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Introduction to the Devout Life” as Want to Read:
Introduction to the Devout Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Introduction to the Devout Life

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  2,133 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Written for Christians in every walk of life and for every age, St. Francis De Sales' classic work transcends secular lines and provides a unique handbook of spiritual reflection for people in every avenue of life.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Vintage (first published 1609)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Introduction to the Devout Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Introduction to the Devout Life

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à KempisCatechism of the Catholic Church by The Catholic ChurchStory of a Soul by Thérèse de LisieuxMere Christianity by C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Books for Catholics
7th out of 368 books — 116 voters
Catechism of the Catholic Church by The Catholic ChurchThe Holy Bible by AnonymousStory of a Soul by Thérèse de LisieuxThe Imitation of Christ by Thomas à KempisGod Is Love by Pope Benedict XVI
Catholic Must Reads
6th out of 120 books — 50 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
February 4, 2012: Finished it today and it has renewed my enthusiasm to reread all the spiritual classics and not just read them, but live them. EXCELLENT BOOK!

As January 24th is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, patron saint of writers and journalists, I decided it was as good a reason as any to begin reading this—his most popular work—again. Have loved and learned so much from it before and look forward to doing so again. In the Introduction to IttDL St. F
Debi Harris
I've read this book a few times, and although it's about 400 years old, it's a gem. It's broken up into small "chapters" so it's great to read just one little tidbit each day....
E.A. Bucchianeri
I apologize for taking so long to write this it is!
Everyman’s (and Woman’s!) ‘How-To Become a Saint’ Manual

Spiritual exercises, devotions, finding a spiritual director ~ that’s all difficult mystic twaddle just for priests, monks and nuns who have given up the world for the religious life, right?

Wrong! Every Christian is called to work on their faith, spirituality is like a garden that must be tended on a continual basis if it is to produce fruit. In this classic spiritual ‘how-to’
Christian Engler
Saint Francis de Sales-patron saint of authors and writers and eminent Doctor of the Catholic Church-is quite deserving of his posthumous honors and titles, for with Introduction to the Devout Life (among his numerous other books and pamphlets), he gives to not only Catholics around the world but humanity in general, a religious, imformative yet readable work of theology that will aid in answering some of the fundamental questions of human existence. But more importantly, in the Introduction to ...more
May 30, 2009 Karina marked it as to-read
Shelves: wishlist
A good translation is so important*. I've seen some translations online that honestly are hard to read and boring due to all the old expressions (they seem to just drag on and on - rather than crisply conveying what they are meant to convey). So far the best translation I saw was this 1885 edition. Obviously, it would be out of print. ;) I'll keep searching.

* The same thing about the difference translation makes -- I'm thinking about Story of a Soul (a great translation is in Project Gutenberg)
ive spent a long time asking and looking around for a solid devotional book. something w lots depth and wisdom that would challenge and shake me up a bit. this book gave me everything i was looking for and more. it's hard to move through this book fast. not only is it 400 years old but sometimes each sentence demands serious contemplation for a few days. i am excited to re read it - and move through it on my own time. probably best to journal along side as there are many reflective questions and ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Music is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
St. Francis de Sales has so much common sense! Sometimes his language is kind of over dramatic and sentimental, especially in the prayers he writes out. But when he is just giving advice, his thoughts are so clear and grounded in reality and so full of moderation and understanding of human nature.
Sep 08, 2011 Mari rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone of any faith interested in spiritual discipline
Recommended to Mari by: lesley
"Diseases of the soul as well as those of the body come posting on horseback but leave slowly and on foot. In this enterprise we must have courage and patience..."
When St. Francis De Sales wrote "Introduction to the Devout Life" in the 16th Century, he probably didn't know that his book would continue to be one of the most widely read books on Christian spirituality 400 years later. Yet, that is exactly what it is. ITTDL is in fact one of the most widely read books in history, ranking up there with the Bible and the "Imitation of Christ". St. Francis wrote this book for a lay woman who wanted to live a deeper spiritual life, and its discussion of spiritua ...more
Nathaniel Turner
This book is a superb example of Francis de Sales' pastoral style and earnest faith. Everything in here is worthwhile Christian reading, regardless of your faith background. I cannot speak highly enough of Francis' exhortations to the faithful. You may disagree that the goal of Christian living is devotion, or holiness, but you cannot claim that following the advice set forth here will make you a lesser Christian.

There is one section which strikes me as being particularly poignant in a "post-Chr
Julie Davis
I really liked this book and could see it being an annual read since so many of the points are good for everyday life. I'd say the weakest points, or perhaps simply those where the book shows its age, are in de Sales' many examples from natural history. It really lets the air out of an example when it is something like, "They say, Philothea, that bees hold onto pebbles to keep from being blown away in high winds ..." (my paraphrasing). I had to giggle. Not de Sales' fault since this was written ...more
Dad Bowers
Dec 09, 2011 Dad Bowers rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: only to strong believers doing research.
Shelves: devotional
This medieval saint is writing to help a young lady in the faith. He is a keen observer of men and their ways and writes out many ideas on relationships and character that one doesn't see often. He is Catholic, and this comes out so often, but at the same time his Jesuit like urge to meditate, to seek intimacy with God is something we evangelicals often need in our walk with God. Some of his illustrations form classic writers like Pliny and Plato are cute, one wonders how the medieval mind could ...more
Tandava Brahmachari
The beginning of the book offers a number of different meditations, which unfortunately came before his instructions on how to practice them. Most of the rest of the book flows relatively smoothly, though, offering lots of practical advice for living a spiritual life. I think the fact that it was written for lay people trying to live spiritually it the midst of a materialistic world makes it pretty accessible, even to the extent of not seeming to be quite as old as I know it is. (Perhaps the tra ...more
Carsten Thomsen
"All true and living devotion presupposes the Love of God"

This spiritual classic is written not by a monk for monks but by a catholic bishop advising a young wife of an ambassador to live a pious life. Mme. de Charmoisy found it difficult to maintain a devout spirit in the midst of all the glamour of courtly life. So she wrote to Frances de Sales for advise.

Francis de Sales starts with an explanation of what a devout life is. Then follows very practical advise on prayer introducing topics to med
This book although old...has nothing but priceless counsel for the believer who eagerly yearns to experience a daily dying of the sin nature & to see all worldliness washed away. I've owned this book for 20+ yrs..& it's still one of my very favorite Christian books. I continually go back to it for guidance, spiritual refreshment, encouragement & discipline. De Sales obviously had a heart burning with desire to please & elevate Christ to the highest possible place in every area of ...more
I've read most of St. Francis de Sales "Catholic Controversy" and had heard only good things about his "Introduction". What I particularly enjoy is his insistence on different spiritual acts for people in different states of life.

I'm certain many zealous Catholics will agree with me that the general quality of homilies nowadays is low but luckily we have the doctors and saints of the Church to give us what St. Peter calls "the pure rational milk" so we might grow in love for God.

By the way, as
Connie Rossini
From my 100-word recommendations on my blog, Contemplative Homeschool:

The classic spiritual guide for lay people. Practical and specific advice. 20 pages of guided meditations, plus further chapters on how to pray well. Does not mince words, yet remains realistic and compassionate. Discusses humility, chastity, friendship, courage, and other virtues. How to attend Mass and make a good confession. How to make a yearly examination of your progress. You will want to read it again and again.

One crit
Kevin de Ataíde
St. Francis de Sales' perennial classic of spiritual direction. I place this book in the same league as that classic The Imitation of Christ by Thomas of Kempis. But there is a great difference. St. Francis de Sales is deeply influenced by the thought of St. Philip Neri and embraces some elements of the life of the laity that were previously thought sinful. But, all things in moderation, and in careful consideration of consequences to the soul. This theology for the laity I find elements of most ...more
Jessica Snell
This took me almost all year to read, because I read it a bit at a time, but it was amazing. I would be starting back at the beginning again – it seems like the sort of book one could profitably read every year – except that I have another of his that I want to start in its place.

You know how the first time you read C.S. Lewis, you thought, “how could I not have seen the world this way before? Of course! It’s all so clear!”? This is that kind of book. God be praised for his servant, Francis de
Despite its age, it makes for a very practical and direct guide to a life devoted to sanctity, especially a secular life led by a typical lay person, for whom the book was intended. A strong focus on a personal relationship with a single confessor may turn out to be difficult for many of today's Catholic Christians, but probably remains very good advice. He also focuses on daily prayer and meditation as a part of a daily routine. Easy to read. Taken seriously, it could be an invaluable personal ...more
I went to a Catholic school from Kindergarten to 12th grade (13yrs). When I graduated I never felt a great connection to God. However, as the years have passed and I've fallen and gain many experiences throughout the realities in life I have been drawn close to our Creator. This book seems to be the perfect guide to living an ideal life. Even if one is not Christian, living their lives by these standards would surely live in true fulfillment and leave a positive contribution to this world.
Had I not stumbled across "Letters of Spiritual Devotion" first, I would have skipped this title, thinking it was only for holy men and women, and not for the ordinary people of the world aspiring to fill the spiritual void within, as they live the ordinary life, as was his intention with this book. "Letters.." inspired me to read more about the man and his times, which led to the desire to read more of his writings.
Frédéric Bey
L'oeuvre de Saint François de Sales est, 400 ans après avoir été écrite, toujours aussi actuelle dans son propos et facile d'accès. C'est clairement et avec simplicité, sans citations ou renvois aux textes bibliques, que l'auteur prodigue ses conseils avisés à qui voudrait prendre de la distance avec une monde trop matérialiste. Un texte qui, malgré son français de l'âge d'or classique, est très facile à aborder.
Scott D.
Discussed with Julie D. on the A Good Story is Hard to Find Podcast:
Episode 51: Introduction to the Devout Life.

It's difficult for me to rate books like this on the same scale I rate fiction. I learned a great deal from this book, and ought to re-read it soon.
Recommended by James Schall in Another Sort of Learning, Chapter 16, as one of Eleven Books on Prayer, Belief, and Reflection.

Included in the "Spiritual Reading" section of Fr. John McCloskey's 100-book Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.

Listed by Patrick Madrid in the Reading Plan of Search and Rescue in Phase 1 (Preliminary).
Aug 04, 2009 Laura is currently reading it
St. Francis de Sales is the patron of writers, and is a most excellent writer! This book is so thorough -- I feel like, though I'm only half-way through it, I should begin at the beginning and read it again! I'm sure this one will be a constant companion throughout my adult life.
James Andersen
This book was an amazing read, I recommend this book for anyone beginning to consider the come back to that Practicing Catholic station in life. This book offers creative and wise advice for practically all problems and questions one may encounter in the spiritual life.
Wonderful devotional classic by a 17th century French bishop. The author explores how anyone, no matter what their state in life, can be fully devoted to God. I found the book to be highly relevant, despite the fact that it was written almost 400 years ago.
This is one of the few books that "stays on my nightstand." I really just mean that it is one of those books that I will refer back to again and again for spiritual help. I'd never put it away, it needs to be a regular reference.
I am working my way through this book slowly during Adoration. This gives me the time to really think and meditate on what I am reading. This is such a great book that I even got one for my husband to read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Way of Perfection
  • True Devotion to Mary
  • Fire Within: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and the Gospel - On Prayer
  • Abandonment to Divine Providence
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy
  • Uniformity with God's Will
  • Life of Christ
  • Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul
  • Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue (Classics of Western Spirituality)
  • Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God
  • The Soul of The Apostolate
  • The Spiritual Exercises
  • I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux
  • The Ascent of Mount Carmel
  • The Way
  • Theology and Sanity
  • This Tremendous Lover
  • Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II
Francis de Sales, C.O., T.O.M., A.O.F.M. Cap. was a Bishop of Geneva and is honored as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

He became noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation.

He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, particularly the Introduction to the De
More about Francis de Sales...
Finding Gods Will for You The Catholic Controversy: A Defense of the Faith The Sign of the Cross: The Fifteen Most Powerful Words in the English Language The Art of Loving God Roses Among Thorns: Simple Advice for Renewing Your Spiritual Journey

Share This Book

“If, when stung by slander or ill-nature, we wax proud and swell with anger, it is a proof that our gentleness and humility are unreal, and mere artificial show.” 46 likes
“Be who you are and be that well.” 28 likes
More quotes…