Frances de Chantal, Religious
[optional Memorial transferred from December 12th
in the diocese of the United States]
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal was born at Dijon, France, January 28, 1572.
In 1592 she married Baron de Chantal, and lived in the feudal castle of Bourbilly. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and brought back prosperity. During her husband's absence at the court, or with the army, when reproachd for her extremely sober manner of dressing, her reply was: "The eyes which I must please are a hundred miles from here". She found more than once that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ. St. Francis de Sales's eulogy of her characterizes her life at Bourbilly and everywhere else: "In Madame de Chantal I have found the perfect woman, whom Solomon had difficulty in finding in Jerusalem". Baron de Chantal was accidently killed by a harquebus while out shooting in 1601. Left a widow at twenty-eight, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity. In all her prayers she besought God to send her a guide.
During Lent, 1604, she visited her father at Dijon, where St. Francis de Sales was preaching at the Sainte Chapelle. He became her spiritual director.
She founded the Congregation of the Visitation which was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday, June 6, 1610. Its aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. St. Francis de Sales was especially desirous of seeing the realization of his cherished method of attaining perfection, which consisted in always keeping one's will united to the Divine will, in taking so to speak one's soul, heart, and longings into one's hands and giving them into God's keeping, and in seeking always to do what is pleasing to Him. "I do always the things that please him" (John 8:29). The two holy founders saw their undertaking prosper. At the time of the death of St. Francis de Sales in 1622, the order already counted thirteen houses; there were eighty-six when St. Jane Frances died (December 13, 1641) and 164 when she was canonized.
The remainder of the saint's life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. If a gentle kindness, vivified and strengthened by a complete spirit of renunciation, predominates in St. Francis de Sales, it is firmness and great vigor which prevails in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.
Her reputation for sanctity was widespread. Queens, princes, and princesses flocked to the reception-room of the Visitation. Wherever she went to establish foundations, the people gave her ovations. "These people", she would say confused, "do not know me; they are mistaken". Her body is venerated with that of St. Francis de Sales in the church of the Visitation at Annecy. She was beatified in 1751, canonized in 1767.
(Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition )
O God, who made Saint Jane Frances de Chantel
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 lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen
First Reading: Proverbs 31: 10-13,19-20,30-31
A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Gospel: Mark 3:31-35
Jesus' mother and brethren came; and standing outside they sent to Him and called Him. And a crowd was sitting about Him; and they said to Him, "Your mother and your brethren are outside, asking for you." And He replied, "Who are My mother and My brethren?" And looking around on those who sat about Him, He said, "Here are My mother and My brethren! Whoever does the will of God is My brother, and sister, and mother."
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