St Jane Frances de Chantal

Ezekiel 16.1-15,60,63; Isaiah 12; Matthew 19.3-12

(1572-1641) Born in Dijon, the daughter of the royalist President of the Parliament of Burgundy and his wife, (who died when Jane was only 18 months old), Jane grew up into a woman of beauty and refinement. Her brother André became Archbishop of Bourges. Jane was married to the Baron de Chantal at the age of 20 and gave birth to a son and three daughters. In 1601 the Baron was accidentally killed in a hunting accident. The widowed Jane took a vow of chastity. In 1604 she heard the Bishop of Geneva, Francis de Sales, preach a series of Lenten sermons. De Sales agreed to become her spiritual director, urging her to “avoid scruples, hurry and anxiety of mind, which hinder the soul’s perfection.”

In 1610, upon the death of de Sales’ mother, she moved to Annecy, where De Sales bought a lakeside house. Joined by two others Jane established the Congregation of the Visitation there. Her reputation for sanctity and for sound management brought visits and contributions from many aristocratic women. By the time of de Sales’ death the new order had established thirteen houses; by the time St Jane died there were 86. (After de Sales’ death St Vincent de Paul served as Jane’s spiritual director.) She wrote exemplary letters of spiritual direction to members of the Congregation.

Posted in Daily Reflection.