Saint of the Day – 4 February – Saint Jane of Valois O.Ann.M and T.O.S.F (1464-1505) Princess, Queen, Founder, Religious Sister, Mystic, Teacher. St Jane was born a Princess as Jeanne de France, Jeanne de Valois on 23 April 1464 – 4 February 1505) and was briefly Queen of France as wife of King Louis XII, in between the death of her brother, King Charles VIII and the annulment of her marriage. After that, she retired to her domain, where she soon founded the monastic Order of the Sisters of the Annunciation of Mary. From this Order later sprang the religious congregation of the Apostolic Sisters of the Annunciation, founded in 1787 to teach the children of the poor. She was Beatified on 18 June 1742 by Pope Benedict XIV and canonised on 28 May 1950 by Pope Pius XIIand is known as Saint Joan of Valois, O.Ann.M.
Saint Jane of Valois, the daughter of Louis XI, king of France, was born April 23, 1464. Favoured with great gifts of mind and heart from her earliest years, she despised the pomp of the court and sought her joy in solitude, prayer and meditation. This manner of life greatly displeased her proud and morose father as being unworthy of a royal princess and he always treated her harshly.
Saint Jane, however, bore it patiently and complained of her sufferings only to God. She once had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and said to her:
“Be consoled, my daughter! A time will still come when you will belong to me entirely. A large group of young women consecrated to God will join you in serving me and proclaiming my praise everywhere.”
At these words a stream of heavenly consolation flooded Jane’s soul and she resolved anew to persevere in the service of God, cost what it might.
Her divinely guided director, Blessed Gabriel Mary or Father Gilbert Nicolas, a Franciscan, encouraged her in her resolution and was her support and director on the way to perfection. From him she also received the habit of the Third Order. From then on she entertained the thought of entering a convent in order to live and die as a bride of the Crucified but suddenly her father announced his decision that she should marry Louis, Duke of Orleans and she was to obey without remonstrance. In filial obedience and for love of God Jane made this difficult sacrifice in the year 1486.
Her marriage was not a happy one. Even before the ceremony took place, Duke Louis protested secretly before a notary and witnesses that he yielded to force and was marrying against his will, in order to escape the anger of the king. He always treated Saint Jane of Valois as a stranger and if he ever permitted her to appear before him, he reproached and ill treated her. When Duke Louis ascended to the throne of France in the year 1498 as Louis XII, his first act was to send the queen a bill of divorce. Because of the compulsion employed, the pope declared the marriage null and void. Jane accepted this great humiliation with a heart resigned to God and said:
“God has now detached me from the world and has made it possible for me to serve Him better than heretofore.”
She now repaired to Bourges and there the revelation that had been made to her in her youth was to be realised. She united a group of young women to form a religious community which would devote itself to the special veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her regular confessor, Father Gilbert, drew up the statutes, which treat in ten chapters on imitating the ten virtues of the Blessed Virgin: the chastity, prudence, humility, faith, obedience, compassion, devotion, poverty, patience and piety of Mary.
In the year 1500 Pope Alexander VI approved this new institute, the members of which were called Sisters of the Annunciation of Mary, or Annunciades. The pope placed them under the obedience of the minister general of the Franciscans and gave Father Gilbert the name of Gabriel Mary. Jane herself took the veil in the convent of Bourges which she had built and on Pentecost, 1503, she pronounced her solemn vows.
Having for so long a time been prepared in the school of suffering and humiliation, she soon reached the summit of religious perfection and was ripe for heaven. God called Saint Jane of Valois to Himself on 4 February 1505. Her body was entombed in the church of the Annunciation and many miracles occurred at her tomb.
In the year 1562, the heretical Huguenots stormed the city of Bourges. Also the convent and the church of the Annunciades were plundered and destroyed. They tore Jane’s body, which was still incorrupt, out of the vault and when they pierced it with swords, blood flowed from the wounds. The holy body was then burned. This kind of activity by these heretics puts the lie to their claim to be “reformers” of the faith, or even followers of Christ. Like the Pharaoh at the time of Moses, the miracle they had just witnessed only hardened their hearts in sin.
*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm