Saint of the Day – 31 March – Blessed Jane of Toulouse O.Carm. (Died 1286?) possibly the first Carmelite Tertiary or a fully professed Nun and it is believed, that she received the Veil from the hands of St Simon Stock (died 1265). Born at Toulouse, France and died perhaps in1286 of natural causes. Also known as – Jeanne, Joan, Johanna.
According to the most reliable biography, that of the Carmelite John Bale, who visited Toulouse in 1527, Joan was of a noble family of the kingdom of Navarre.
Because of her devotion to Our Lady, she wished to live as a recluse near the Carmelite Convent of Toulouse, where she led a life of great austerity. She loved to speak about heavenly things with the young Friars and prayed much for them, which was to their great spiritual benefit.
IThere is doubt concerning the dates of her life but it does not appear that she lived much before the 15th Century because she does not appear on the lists of Carmelite saints of the second half of the 14th Century nor on the list of the Saints of the Order by John Grossi (died 1437), a member of the Carmelite Province of Toulouse.
Jane is often called a Tertiary or even Nun, however, it is not impossible that she professed the Carmelite rule, as did other pious ladies of that time.
After her death,, many miracles were attributed to her by the faithful. Bernard du Rosier, Archbishop of Toulouse from 1452 until 1474. He had Jane’s body exhumed and placed in an urn, in a worthy place in a Chapel of the Carmelite Church of the City and,on that occasion, he granted an indulgence of forty days to ail who would visited the remains. Gailhard de Ruppe, provincial of Toulouse, gave the panegyric. An antiphon, with verse and oration, in honour of the blessed is also known. According to Bale, the General Chapter of the Carmelites, held at Naples in 1510, treated of the Canonisation of Jane.
Examinations of the remains were held in 1616, 1656 and 1688. In 1656 it was noted that an arm and the right hand were missing, they had been carried into Spain by the Prior General, Henry Silvio, during a visit to the Convent. And in 1688 the left hand
and some teeth were also missing.
After the French revolution, during the demolition of the Carmelite Church at Toulouse in 1805, the remains of the blessed were found in a wall, together with the document of the examination of 1688 and some prayers that the blessed reputedly recited on a regular basis. The body was carried into the metropolitan Church of St Stephen and buried in the Chapel of St Vincent de Paul. Then, in 1893, for the occasion of her Beatification, it was again exhumed and placed in an reliquary. Joan was Beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1895.
In a fresco of the late 15th Century (1472) in the Carmelite Church of St Felix del Benaco in Brescia, Italy, the blessed appears in the white veil of a Carmelite tertiary. An engraving made about 1620, at the order of Gaspard Rinkens, Prior of the Anvers Carmel, represents her as a Carmelite Nun gazing at the Crucifix which she holds in her hands and this is how she is generally represented today.