St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641) was born in Dijon, France. Because her mother died only eighteen months later, her father (the head of the local parliament) took on the responsibility of educating her. Jane grew up to be a lovely and refined young woman with a cheerful temperament. She married Baron de Chantal and became the mother of six children (three of whom died in infancy).
Jane was very happy as a wife and mother, and she devoted herself to charitable activities. After eight years of marriage, however, her husband died, and she went into a period of deep depression. Her father-in-law, a vain and stubborn old man, forced Jane and the children to live with him. He treated Jane unkindly, but she remained cheerful nevertheless.
In 1604 Jane met St. Francis de Sales, a great bishop and spiritual author. He became her spiritual director, and a very warm, human, and holy friendship developed between them. In 1607 the bishop enlisted Jane’s help in founding a religious order for women whose age or health prevented them from entering the rigorous lifestyle of other religious orders. Three years later the first convent of the Order of the Visitation was established, with Jane as director.
Jane had much to suffer in the remaining years of her life. Her religious order faced much opposition, her friend St. Francis died in 1622, and her own son was killed in a war against England in 1627. Soon after this a plague ravaged France, killing her daughter-in-law and son-in-law. Jane and her order actively cared for the sick and the dying. Throughout this period she suffered frequent doubts and temptations against the faith, but she remained cheerful and active, establishing many other convents for her order. St. Jane de Chantal died in 1641, and was canonized in 1767.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Agapitus (3rd century), 15-year-old Martyr
St. Helena (326), Widow, Empress, mother of Constantine, finder of the True Cross, Patroness of Converts and Difficult Marriages