Feast of St. Jane Frances de Chantal (August 12)   1 comment

Above:  St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL (JANUARY 28, 1572-DECEMBER 13, 1641)

Cofoundress of the Congregation of the Visitation 

Also known as Saint Jeanne de Chantal and Saint Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal

Alternative feast days = August 18 and December 13

Former feast days = August 21 and December 12

St. Jane Frances de Chantal comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).

Our saint came from a prominent and wealthy family.  She, born in Dijon, France, on January 28, 1572, was a daughter of Margaret de Berbisey and Bénigne Frémyot, president of the Burgundian parliament.  St. Jane’s brother André grew up to become the Archbishop of Bourges, serving from 1602 to 1621.  Margaret died when our saint was 18 months old.  Bénigne, as a widower and a single father, raised his daughter to become a refined young woman.

At the age of twenty years, St. Jane married Baron Christophe de Rabutin.  The happy marriage produced seven children, three of whom died in infancy.  It was a brief marriage, though; the Baron died in a hunting accident in 1601, after eight years of marriage.  St. Jane, widowed at twenty-eight years of age and raising four children, struggled.  She depended on her family, made a personal vow of chastity, and spent much time in prayer.  Life in her father-in-law’s household was miserable for our saint.

In Lent 1604, St. Jane’s father invited her to visit Dijon and hear St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), the Bishop of Geneva, and the “Apostle of Charity,” speak.  Our saint accepted that invitation.  That address changed the course of St. Jane’s life.  She recognized him as the man in the vision she had received at her father-in-law’s house in Monthelon.  St. Francis advised St. Jane to spend less time with her father-in-law in Monthelon and more time with her father in Dijon.  Our saint obeyed that counsel and attended to both men.

The two saints and their families became close.  St. Jane considered joining a Carmelite convent in Dijon in 1605; St. Francis dissuaded her.  The two saints became part of the same extended family in 1610.  St. Jane’s daughter, Marie Aymée, married Bernard, the youngest brother of St. Francis.  After St. Jane’s youngest daughter, Charlotte, died, our saint, her son Celse-Bénigne, and her daughter Françoise relocated to Annecy, where Marie Aymée and Bernard lived.  Then St. Francis bought a house in the area.

Above:  Annecy, France

Image Source = Google Earth

Sts. Jane and Francis founded the Congregation of the Visitation on Trinity Sunday, June 6, 1610, in Annecy.  St. Jane’s 15-year-old son, Celse-Bénigne, opposed his mother’s plan to enter religious life.  He asked her not to leave, and he laid down in front of the door.  Our saint literally stepped over her son, out of the house, and into religious life.  The Congregation of the Visitation was controversial from the beginning.  The rule of the Congregation was relatively lenient.  The Congregation also accepted women whom other orders had rejected for being too ill or too old.  St. Jane, the Congregation’s first Superior, presided over its expansion to 86 convents.

St. Jane died, aged 69 years, in Moulins, France, on December 13, 1641.  

Holy Mother Church has formally recognized St. Jane.  Pope Benedict XIV beatified her in 1751.  Pope Clement XIII canonized our saint in 1767.

St. Jane’s patronage is for widows, for parents separated from children, against problems with in-laws, against the death of parents, against abandonment, and for abandoned or forgotten people.

Members of the Congregation of the Visitation continue to lead contemplative lives, run schools, and work with widows and ill women.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 4, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SIMEON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND PROMOTER OF MISSIONS; HENRY MARTYN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, LINGUIST, TRANSLATOR, AND MISSIONARY; AND ABDUL MASIH, INDIAN CONVERT AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF HENRY SUSO, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, PREACHER, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN EDGAR PARK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEN CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PAUL CUFFEE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY TO THE SHINNECOCK NATION

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HORNBLOWER GILL, ENGLISH UNITARIAN THEN ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Saint Jane Frances de Chantal,

may serve you with singleness of heart,

and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 722

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One response to “Feast of St. Jane Frances de Chantal (August 12)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of St. Francis de Sales, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, and Charles Fuge Lowder (September 27) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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