St. Jane Frances de Chantal
1572 - 1641
Feast Day: August 21
St. Jane Frances Frémoit de Chantal was born at Dijon in Burgundy, of noble parents, and from her childhood gave clear signs of her future great sanctity. It was said that when only five years of age she put to silence a Calvinist nobleman by substantial arguments far beyond her age, and when he offered her a little present she immediately threw it into the fire, saying: This is how heretics will burn in hell, because they do not believe Christ when He speaks.
When she lost her mother, she put herself under the care of the Virgin Mother of God, and dismissed a maid-servant who was enticing her to love the world. There was nothing childish in her manners; she shrank from worldly pleasures, and thirsting for martyrdom, she devoted herself entirely to religion and piety. She was given in marriage by her father to the Baron de Chantal, and in this new state of life she strove to cultivate every virtue, and busied herself in instructing in faith and morals her children, her servants and all under her authority.
Her liberality in relieving the necessities of the poor was very great, and more than once God miraculously multiplied her stores of provisions; on this account she promised never to refuse anyone who begged an alms in Christ’s name.
Her husband having been killed while hunting, she determined to embrace a more perfect life and bound herself by a vow of chastity. She not only bore her husbands death resignedly, but overcame herself so far as to stand god-mother to the child of the man who had killed him, in order to give a public proof that she pardoned him. She contented herself with a few servants and with plain food and dress, devoting her costly garments to pious usages.
Whatever time remained from her domestic cares she employed in prayer, pious reading, and work. She could never be induced to accept offers of second marriage, even though honorable and advantageous. In order not to be shaken in her resolution of observing chastity, she renewed her vow, and imprinted the most holy name of Jesus Christ upon her breast with a red-hot iron. Her love grew more ardent day by day. She had the poor, the abandoned, the sick, and those who were afflicted with the most terrible diseases, brought to her, and not only sheltered and comforted and nursed them, but washed and mended their filthy garments, and did not shrink from putting her lips to their running sores.
Wishing for still higher ascensions in her heart, she bound herself by a most difficult vow always to do what she thought most perfect. At length, when the Order of the Visitation [which St. Jane Frances de Chantal had co-founded with St. Francis de Sales] had spread far and wide, chiefly through her endeavors, after encouraging her Sisters to piety and charity by words and example, and also by writings full of divine wisdom, laden with merits she passed to the Lord at Moulins, having duly received the Sacraments of the Church. She died on December 13, in the year 1641.
St. Vincent de Paul, who was at a great distance, saw her soul being carried to Heaven, and St. Francis de Sales coming to meet her. Her body was afterwards translated to Annecy. Miracles having made her illustrious both before and after her death, Benedict XIV placed her among the Blessed, and Pope Clement XIII among the Saints. Pope Clement XIV commanded her feast to be celebrated by the universal Church on the twelfth of the Kalends of September, which is August 21.
The information in this article was taken from the books, The Liturgical Year Volume 13, and Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of the Saints. These books, along with others on this saint, are available from www.fatimashoppe.org.
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