Saint Francis of Sales, though one of the gentlest of the saints of God, knew how to defend himself from the swords of his enemies in the day of danger.
As a young man, the great saint took up residence in Padua, where his father sent him to pursue his studies. It happened that certain young men, who seemed to live for no other purpose than to gratify their evil passions, were offended at his humility and meekness. These virtues were a condemnation of their own sinful ways.
They mocked the holy youth behind his back, attributing his good conduct to cowardice and effeminacy. In their wicked hearts they formed the design of waylaying him and giving him a severe beating. To accomplish their design, they made plans for an ambush. They took up arms and hid in a thicket which the saintly youth had to pass on his return to his house.
They, knowing his habitual gentleness, imagined that he would offer them no resistance, and that, after having beaten him severely, they would be able, by running speedily away.
But in this they deceived themselves, for they had forgotten, or perhaps were not aware,that the virtue of religion which teaches meekness and humility of heart inspires also courage and intrepidity in the hour of need.
When Saint Francis had reached the spot where his assailants were waiting, they rushed out to attack him unawares, and began by trying to raise a quarrel; then they called him names, and finding all these of no avail to provoke him to anger, they prepared to inflict on him the bodily cruelties they had previously designed. But the pious youth, knowing that here he owed himself the duty to resist, promptly drew his sword.
Brandishing it over his cowardly aggressors, he caused them to beat a hasty retreat. Saint Francis pursued them for a time, then—surprise. Realizing their own danger, his attackers turned to him trembling in confusion. Falling to their knees, they implored the saint’s forgiveness, and promised never to repeat such unpardonable conduct.
Taken from The Catechism in Examples, Vol. III by the Rev. D. Chisholm, pp. 273-275.