“I’m on their side”

Today is the feast day of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, a French laywoman of nobility who founded a religious order after her husband’s death. She became good friends with Saint Francis de Sales and was greatly influenced by his spirituality and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Throughout her life she had a particular love and care for the sick and aged. Both while married and as a religious, Saint Jane Frances de Chantal ministered to the needs of those around her and did not refuse anyone.

Along with Saint Francis de Sales, she established the Order of the Visitation, a religious community dedicated to the service of the sick and poor in imitation of the Blessed Virgin who visited her cousin Elizabeth during her pregnancy. She stressed the virtues of humility and gentleness and accepted those women into her community who could not practice extraordinary acts of mortification.

Many criticized her for accepting older women into her order, to which she famously replied, “What do you want me to do? I like sick people myself; I'm on their side.” Saint Jane Frances de Chantal had such a great love of neighbor that was based firmly on her personal love of Jesus. She desired greatly to unite her heart with his and join Jesus in his mission of compassion.

Let us be inspired by the example of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal and renew our own love neighbor, especially the sick and aged. May we remain “on their side” and never stop ministering to their needs.

- Philip Kosloski
Writer and Content Manager
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (USA)

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