04 Feb Saint Jane of Valois, Abbess
Today is the feast day of Saint Jane of Valois. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Jane (Joan) of Valois (Jeanne de France), the daughter of Louis XI, king of France, was born April 23, 1464. (2) Her father, Louis XI, who had hoped for a son to succeed him, banished Jane from his palace, and, it is said, even attempted her life. At the age of five the neglected child offered her whole heart to God, and yearned to do some special service in honor of His blessed Mother. At the king’s wish, though against her own inclination, she was married to the Duke of Orleans. (2)
Towards an indifferent and unworthy husband her conduct was always patient and dutiful. Her prayers and tears saved him from a traitor’s death and shortened a captivity which his rebellion had merited. Still nothing could win a heart which was already given to another. When her husband ascended the throne as Louis XII, his first act was to repudiate, by false representations, one who through twenty-two years of cruel neglect had been his true and loyal wife. At the final sentence of separation, the saintly queen exclaimed, God be praised who has allowed this, that I may serve Him better than I have heretofore done. (2)
She now repaired to Bourges, and there the revelation that had been made to her in her youth was to be realized. 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, to whit: the chastity, prudence, humility, faith, obedience, compassion, devotion, poverty, patience and piety of Mary. (2)
In 1501 the rule of the Annunciation was finally approved by Alexander VI. The chief aim of the institute was to imitate the ten virtues practiced by Our Lady in the mystery of the Incarnation. Its Superior was called Ancelle, handmaid, in honor of Mary’s humility. Saint Jane built and endowed the first convent of the Order in 1502. She died in heroic sanctity in 1505, and was buried in the royal crown and purple, beneath which she wore the habit of her Order. (1)
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.
Pope Benedict XIV sanctioned the public veneration of Jane in the year 1742; and in 1950 she was declared a saint by Pius XII. (2)
Image: Portrait of St. Joan of Valois, Artist: Jean Perréal, circa 1530.
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff