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Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

When shall it be that we shall taste the sweetness of the Divine Will in all that happens to us, considering in everything only His good pleasure, by whom it is certain that adversity is sent with as much love as prosperity, and as much for our good? When shall we cast ourselves undeservedly into the arms of our most loving Father in Heaven, leaving to Him the care of ourselves and of our affairs, and reserving only the desire of pleasing Him, and of serving Him well in all that we can?

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal was born on January 28th, 1572, in Dijon, France. Her father, Benigne Fremyot, was the president of the Parliament of Burgundy and her uncle was the prior at Val des Choux. She tragically lost her mother at the age of 18 months and so was left with her father as the main influence in her life. At the age of 20, in 1592, she married the Baron de Chantal and moved into the castle of Bourbilly. It was at Bourbilly she became well known not only for her giving of alms and care to the needy but also for her excellent management of the estates.

In 1601 her husband was tragically killed in a hunting accident, leaving her the widow with four children. With a broken heart she took upon a vow of chastity and moved with her children to her father in law's castle at Monthelon, Saone-et-Loire. In 1604, she travelled back to Dijon at the request of her father to attend Lenten sermons at the Sainte Chappele. These sermons were being preached by Saint Francis de Sales and the two became close friends extremely quickly. He became her spiritual director and she began travelling between Dijon and Monthelon to split her time in caring for her father and father in law.

In 1605 their friendship grew even closer as Saint Chantal's daughter, Marie Aymee, married Saint Francis de Sales youngest brother Bernard. Saint Chantal moved to Annecy to assist with her daughter and her new growing family. She soon purchased a small house on Lake Annecy, where she was joined by Marie Favre, daughter of the president of Savoy and another woman recruited by Saint Francis (Charlotte de Brechard). On Trinity Sunday (June 6th) 1610, the Congregation of the Visitation of Holy Mary was established there with their office the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The order specifically sought out and accepted women who had been too sick, too old, or otherwise rejected by other orders. When people criticized her for accepting the sick and old she told them:

"What do you want me to do? I like sick people myself; I'm on their side."

The order was also unique in that they actively sought public outreach rather than staying cloistered. The second house was soon founded in Lyon and by the death of Saint Francis de Sales 13 houses had been built throughout France. Following Saint Francis's death, Saint Chantel sought out spiritual direction from Saint Vincent de Paul. On December 13th, 1641, Saint Jane Frances de Chantel died at the Visitation Convent in Moulins.

On November 21st, 1751, Pope Benedict XIV beatified her and on July 16th, 1767, Pope Clement XIII. At the time of her canonization, 164 houses in Europe had been founded. Her feast day moved around quite a bit - it was originally inserted for August 21st but moved in the 1969 revision to December 12th to place it closer to the date of her death. In 2001, however, Saint Pope John Paul II added the memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe for December 12th and so had to move the feast day to August 12th for Saint Chantal. Today she is venerated as the patron saint of forgotten people, widows, and the loss of parents.

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