Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal was the foundress of the Order of the Visitation of Mary. She was born in 1572 and came from a noble family, her father gave her in marriage to the Baron von Chantal in 1592. As mother she most zealously instructed the children in the ways of virtue and piety and in the observance of every divine precept. With great generosity she supported the poor and took special joy in seeing how divine Providence often blesses and increases the smallest larder. Therefore she made a vow never to refuse anyone who asked for alms in the Name of Christ.
The death of her husband, who was accidentally shot while on the chase (1601), she bore with Christ-like composure and with all her heart forgave the person who had killed him; then she acted as sponsor for one of his children in order to show her forgiveness openly. There was a holy friendship between her and her spiritual guide, Francis de Sales; with his approval she left her father and children and founded the Visitation nuns.
Thus, too, it should be with us—firm yet forgiving, and each at the proper place and in the proper measure. Our zeal must not make us hard, fanatic; neither may love degenerate into sentimentalism. In fundamentals, in faith, and in the commandments we must be firm, immovable, with no trace of tolerance; but in our contacts with men, patient, forgiving, tender, conciliatory. The Christian ought be firm and resolute as a father, mild and self-sacrificing as a mother. This tension between complementary virtues we find exemplified in a heroic degree in St. Jane Frances de Chantal.
Patron: Forgotten people; in-law problems; loss of parents; parents separated from children; widows.