Jane Frances de Chantal
Feast Day: August 18
Canonized: July 16, 1767
Beatified: November 21, 1751
Jane was born in Dijon, France, in 1572. When she was 20, she married into a royal family. She and her husband had six children, two of whom died at a young age. Jane was a busy wife and mother, but she still found time to welcome the poor who came to the castle door looking for food.
Jane’s husband was seriously injured in a hunting accident and died after a few days. She was heartbroken. She could not forgive the man who had caused the accident. She turned away from all the people and things she loved and made a vow not to marry again. Even prayer did not help her to overcome her sadness.
During Lent, she went to church and heard a bishop give a sermon about God’s love. The bishop’s name was Francis de Sales. His words opened her heart again. She forgave the man who caused her husband’s accident. Jane persuaded Bishop de Sales to be her spiritual advisor. The two became good friends.
Bishop de Sales told Jane about his dream to establish an order of religious sisters who would live and work among the people they served. In Jane’s day, all nuns lived in their convents and did not work in the community. The sisters would follow the humble example of our Blessed Mother Mary when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Mary spent three months caring for and helping Elizabeth.
As Bishop de Sales hoped, his dream became Jane’s dream. The community she founded became known as the Congregation of the Visitation of Holy Mary, or the Visitation Order. More than 80 convents were established in Jane’s lifetime. Francis de Sales was declared a saint in 1665. Jane de Chantal, who died in 1641, was canonized in 1767. She is invoked as the patron or forgotten people, widows, and parents who are separated from their children.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal teaches us the God has a plan for each of us.