Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Feast day: August 12
What a way to start a marriage! Jane no sooner arrived at her new home
then she discovered she might lose it. Her husband, Christophe, had not
only inherited the title of baron but enormous debts as well.
But Jane had not come to the marriage empty-handed. She brought with her
a deep faith instilled by her father who made daily religious discussion
fun, allowing the children to talk about anything -- even controversial
topics. She also brought a good-hearted way that made a friend comment,
"Even stupid jokes were funny when she told them."
These qualities helped the twenty-year-old French woman take charge by
personally organizing and supervising every detail of the estate, a
method which not only brought the finances under control but won her
employees' hearts as well.
Despite the early financial worries, she and her husband shared "one
heart and one soul." They were devoted to each other and to their four
One way Jane shared her blessings was by giving bread and soup
personally to the poor who came to her door. Often people who had just
received food from her would pretend to leave, go around the house and
get back in line for more. When asked why she let these people get away
with this, Jane said, "What if God turned me away when I came back to
him again and again with the same request?"
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. At first she tried just greeting him
on the street. When she was able to do that, she invited him to her
house. Finally she was able to forgive the man so completely that she
even became godmother to his child.
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. When people criticized her, she
said, "What do you want me to do? I like sick people myself; I'm on
their side." She believed that people should have a chance to live their
calling regardless of their health.
Still a devoted mother, she was constantly concerned about the
materialistic ways of one of her daughters. Her daughter finally asked
her for spiritual direction as did may others, including an ambassador
and her brother, an archbishop. Her advice always reflected her very
gentle and loving approach to spirituality:
"Should you fall even fifty 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."
She died in 1641, at sixty-nine years of age.