August 11, 2017

St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Foundress

Saint Jane Frances de Chanta

August 12th, is the optional memorial of Saint Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal, the foundress of the Order of the Visitation of Mary. She was born in 1572 and came from a noble family, her father gave her in marriage to the Baron von Chantal in 1592. As mother she most zealously instructed the children in the ways of virtue and piety and in the observance of every divine precept. With great generosity, she supported the poor and took special joy in seeing how divine Providence often blesses and increases the smallest larder. Therefore, she made a vow never to refuse anyone who asked for alms in the Name of Christ.

The death of her husband, who was accidentally shot while on the chase (1601), she bore with Christ-like composure and with all her heart forgave the person who had killed him; then she acted as sponsor for one of his children in order to show her forgiveness openly. There was a holy friendship between her and her spiritual guide, Saint Francis de Sales. With his approval she left her father and her children and founded the Visitation nuns.

Thus, too, it should be with us—firm yet forgiving, and each at the proper place and in the proper measure. Our zeal must not make us hard, fanatic; neither may love degenerate into sentimentalism. In fundamentals, in faith, and in the commandments, we must be firm, immovable, with no trace of tolerance; but in our contacts with men, patient, forgiving, tender, conciliatory. The Christian ought to be firm and resolute as a father, mild and self-sacrificing as a mother. This tension between complementary virtues we find exemplified in a heroic degree in St. Jane Frances de Chantal.

She was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV on November 21, 1751, and canonized sixteen years later, on July 16, 1767 by Pope Clement XIII. O God, who made Saint Jane Frances de Chantal radiant with outstanding merits in different walks of life, grant us, through her intercession, that walking faithfully in our vocation, we may constantly be examples of shining light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who reigns with you, and with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Fr. Pius Parsch.

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