St. Francis de Sales (Left) Preaching While St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Right, with the Green Halo) Listens
St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641)
Founder of the Congregation of the Visitation
St. Francis de Sales called her “one of the holiest souls I have ever met.”
St. Jane Frances de Chantal’s life changed in 1601. Her husband on nine years, the (French) Baron de Chantal, died in a hunting accident, leaving her a 28-year-old widow with four children. St. Jane Frances turned to her father-in-law for help, and he took her and the children into his household, where she remained for seven years.
St. Jane Frances heard St. Francis de Sales preach in 1604 at Dijon, France, while visiting her father. St. Francis de Sales became her spiritual director while she lived simply, tended to her children’s needs, and cared for sick children, the poor, and the dying, while living according to a vow of chastity. St. Jane Francis formalized this work in 1610, when she founded (with St. Francis de Sales) the Congregation of the Visitation, which grew to 86 houses by the time of her death.
The Religious Wars raged across Western Europe during the 1600s. Protestants (of various descriptions) and Roman Catholics attacked each other violently. Within this context St. Jane Frances lost her son to fighting in 1627.
The following year, a plague struck Annecy, France, where St. Jane Frances lived. She placed the resources of her convent at the disposal of local authorities, whom she encouraged to meet the needs of the people. Many of those resources came from St. Jane Frances herself, who was, after all, a Baroness.
She died in 1641, after an illness.
The Congregation of the Visitation continues its sacred work.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
SEPTEMBER 9, 2010 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF CONSTANCE AND HER COMPANIONS, MARTYRS OF MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
A Prayer from Lives of the Saints:
God, you endowed St. Jane Francis de Chantal with admirable qualities in various walks of life. Through her intercession help us to be true to our vocation and never fail to bear witness to the light you give us. Amen.
Readings I Have Selected: