Saint of the Month: St. Jane Frances De Chantal

Despite the early financial worries, Jane, and her husband Christophe, who newly inherited the title of baron, were devoted to each other and to their four children. Jane had a deep faith instilled by her father who made daily religious discussion fun. These qualities helped the 20-year-old French woman take charge by personally organizing every detail of the estate, which brought the finances under control and won her employees’ hearts as well.

One way Jane shared her blessings was by giving bread and soup personally to the poor who came to her door.

Her happiness was shattered when Christophe was killed in a hunting accident. Before he died, her husband forgave the man who shot him, saying to the man, “Don’t commit the sin of hating yourself when you have done nothing wrong.” The heartbroken Jane, however, had to struggle with forgiveness for a long time. Finally, she was able to forgive the man so completely that she even became godmother to his child.

Jane’s commitment to God impressed Saint Francis de Sales, the bishop who became her director and best friend. Their friendship started before they even met, for they saw each other in dreams, and continued in letters throughout their lives.

With Francis’ support, Jane founded the Visitation order for women who were rejected by other orders because of poor health or age. She even accepted a woman who was 83 years old. She believed that people should have a chance to live their calling regardless of their health.

One of her daughters asked her for spiritual direction as did many others. Her advice always reflected her very gentle and loving approach to spirituality: “Should you fall even 50 times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you. Instead, ever so gently, set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the time speaking words of love and trust to our Lord after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults God allows us to become aware of in ourselves, we must forget them and go forward.”

Jane died in 1641, at 69 years of age.

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