VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2002 ( John Paul II presented the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales to the world of communications, describing him as a "man of goodness and gentleness, who knew how to manifest God's mercy to those he encountered."

In a letter sent to Bishop Yves Boivineau of Annecy, in France, on the 400th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of this Doctor of the Church, the Pope mentioned the saint's "demanding but peaceful spirituality, founded on love."

"To love God 'is the sovereign happiness of the soul in this life and in eternity,'" the Pope said, quoting one of the saint's letters.

The papal message adds that Francis de Sales "led numerous Christians on the path of holiness; he showed them that all are called to live an intense spiritual life, regardless of their situation or profession."

The Church, the saint said, is "a many-colored garden of infinite flowers, therefore, they are needed in different sizes, colors, scents, in a word, of different perfection."

The Holy Father ended his message by presenting this saint "to journalists, writers, and all persons who work in the media, whose patron he is," since 1923.

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) founded the Order of the Visitation together with St. Jane Frances de Chantal. Coadjutor bishop at age 32, and titular bishop of Geneva three years later (1602), he introduced in his diocese the reforms of the Council of Trent.