St. Jane Frances de Chantal – Nun

St. Jane Frances de Chantal was a devoted wife and mother before she became the co-founder with St. Francis de Sales of the Visitation nuns. Described as ‘humble and meek’, Jane offered her life to the service of others. Born in Dijon, France, she and her brother were raised by their father’s sister after the death of their mother.

At the age of twenty, she married Christophe de Rabuttin, Baron de Chantal. They had a son and three daughters; two others died in infancy. A deeply religious woman, she devoted herself to the care of her husband and children and those in need of her gentle care. Her husband was killed in 1601 in a hunting accident when Jane was 28. After his death, the grieving widow and her children went to live with her father-in-law, who is said to have been quite an unreasonable man. Jane learned to be extremely patient and dedicated herself to her children and to acts of charity.

In 1604, she met the gentle St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva. Both had seen visions of the other and rejoiced in their meeting. He became her spiritual advisor and close friend.

In 1610, after seeing to the material needs of her now independent children, she went to Annecy to become the Mother Superior to a small group of religious women that was to become the Sisters of the Visitation of St. Mary. The good women worked among the needy and took no solemn vows.

Jane was completely self-sacrificing, completely yielding to the will of God. She suffered from illnesses and depression but was always sustained by her deep faith. At the time of her death at 69 in 1641, there were 87 Visitandine convents. St. Jane Frances de Chantal was canonized by Pope Clement XII on July 16, 1767.