|“In prayer, more is accomplished by listening than by talking.”|
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal was born into French nobility in 1572. Her father, the head of parliament in Dijon, France, raised her and her siblings without his wife, who passed away when Jane was only eighteen months old. When Jane was 21 years old, she married Baron de Chantal and went to live in his castle. Together they had three children. Jane convinced her husband to allow daily Mass at the castle, and Jane was involved in various charitable works. She set up soup kitchens to feed the hungry in the neighborhood and traveled to those who were sick to nurse them back to health and be their housekeeper. Additionally, Jane welcomed the sick, aged and poor into the castle and offered them her care. Those who begged were never turned away.
After her husband’s sudden death seven years into their marriage, Jane continued her works of mercy. Together with St. Francis de Sales, who was her spiritual director, they formed an institute of women which would be a haven for those whose health, age or other considerations barred them from entering already established convents. This institute would have no cloister, but the women would be free to undertake corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Primarily, they intended to exemplify the virtues of Mary at the Visitation: humility and meekness. They called themselves the Visitation nuns.
After the opening of the first convent in 1610, Francis de Sales and Jane decided to open a second convent. They faced opposition from the Cardinal and were forced to make it a cloistered community following the rule of St. Augustine. When Jane died in 1641, eighty convents had been founded. Her body is venerated with St. Francis de Sales in the church of the Visitation at Annecy.