Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Saints for Women Who Suffer: St. Jane Valois

Rejected by her father and then her husband, can it get any worse? Well, yes, her father tried to kill her (Who needs soap operas! Just read the lives of the saints.)

Born in 1464, St. Jane Valois was the daughter of King Louis XI of France. During her life, she suffered many trials as well as gross humiliations. When she was born, she was a great disappointment to her father, who desired an heir to the throne. To make matters worse, she was deformed and ugly. At the age of 5, her father banished her from the castle to a remote cottage where she was deprived of life's basic necessities. Here she developed a devotion to the Blessed Mother. Hearing the bells ring the Angelus, she was comforted in her sorrow thinking of the Incarnation.

At the age of 2 months, for political reasons, her father betrothed her to Louis, Duke of Orleans. Against her wishes, they were married when she was 9. The duke, compelled by fear of the King, had agreed to marry her, but actually hated her, even insulting her in public, causing her great humiliation, despite the fact that she had saved him while he was in prison, awaiting a traitor's death for fomenting a rebellion against Jane's brother the reigning king. Later, when he became King, he had the marriage annulled, causing Jane even more suffering. Jane bore this with patient humility and ultimately considered this a great blessing that she was released from her marriage, so that she could now devote herself to founding a new order. She founded the Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a contemplative order of nuns. The rule was based on following the virtues of Mary.

For those of us who suffer from vanity, Jane was considered hideous in appearance, hunchbacked, lame, and pock-marked. She was also sickly much of her life. Let us imitate her and cultivate an interior beauty that outshines physical beauty.

When we are rejected and despised by the ones who should love us the most, when we are angry, bitter, and resentful and want to lash out at the ones who humiliate us, or cry, pout, and feel sorry for ourselves, let us think of St. Jane of Valois and strive to love through patient forgiveness, penance and small acts of kindness.

Noted for her goodness, humility, and gentleness as well as patience, charity, and duty to her ungrateful husband while they were married, let us imitate St. Jane Valois. St. Jane, pray for us!

Also known as Joan of Valois, Joan of France or Jeanne de Valois. Her feast day is February 4.

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