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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

February 4

St. Jean, Joan, or Joanna, of Valois, Queen of France

SHE was daughter of King Lewis XI. and Charlotte of Savoy, born in 1464. Her low stature and deformed body rendered her the object of her father’s aversion, who notwithstanding married her to Lewis duke of Orleans, his cousin-german, in 1476. She obtained his life of her brother Charles VIII. who had resolved to put him to death for rebellion. Yet nothing could conquer his antipathy against her, from which she suffered every thing with patience, making exercises of piety her chief occupation and comfort. Her husband coming to the crown of France in 1498, under the name of Lewis XII. having in view an advantageous match with Anne, the heiress of Brittany, and the late king’s widow, alleging also the nullity of his marriage with Jane, chiefly upon account of his being forced to it by Lewis XI. applied to Pope Alexander VI. for commissaries to examine the matter according to law. These having taken cognizance of the affair, declared the marriage void; nor did Jane make any opposition to the divorce, but rejoiced to see herself at liberty, and in a condition to serve God in a state of greater perfection and attended with fewer impediments in his service. She, therefore, meekly acquiesced in the sentence, and the king, pleased at her submission, gave her the dutchy of Berry, besides Pontoise and other townships. She resided at Bourges, wore only sackcloth, and addicted herself entirely to the exercises of mortification and prayer, and to works of charity, in which she employed all her great revenues. By the assistance of her confessarius, a virtuous Franciscan friar, called Gabriel Maria, as he always signed his name, she instituted in 1500, the Order of nuns of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. 1 It was approved by Julius II. Leo X. Paul V. and Gregory XV. The nuns wear a black veil, a white cloak, a red scapular, and a brown habit with a cross, and a cord for a girdle. The superioress is only called Ancelle, or servant, for humility. St. Jane took the habit herself in 1504, but died on the 4th of February, 1505. The Hugonots burned her remains at Bourges, in 1562. 2 She was canonized by Clement XII. in 1738, but had been venerated at Bourges from the time of her death. See the brief of Benedict XIV. concerning her immemorial veneration, t. 2. de Canoniz. l. 2. c. 24. p. 296. Bullarii, t. 16. p. 104. and Helyot, Hist. des Ord. Rel. t. 7. p. 339. Also Henschenius, p. 575. Chatelain’s Notes on the Mart. Her life, compiled by Andrew Fremiot, archbishop of Bourges; by Hilarion de Coste of the Order of Minims, among his illustrious ladies; another printed by order of Doni d’Attichi, bishop of Autun, in 1656, (who had from his youth professed the same Order of the Minims of which he wrote the Annals, and an History of the French Cardinals.) See also on St. Jane, Godeau Eloges des Princesses, &c.  1
Note 1. The imitation of the ten principal virtues, of which the mysteries of the Blessed Virgin, honoured by the church in her yearly festivals, furnish perfect models, is the peculiar end of this religious institute, which takes its name from the first and principal of the joyful mysteries of the mother of God. These nuns wear a gray habit with a red scapular, with a gold cross (or of silver gilt) hanging before their breast, and a gold ring on one of their fingers. A noble Genoese widow, called Mary Victoria Fornaro, instituted in 1604 another order of the same title, called of the Celestial Annunciades, Annuntiatæ Cœlestinæ. As an emblem of heaven, their habit is white, with a blue mantle to represent the azure of the heavens. The most rigorous poverty and a total separation from the world are prescribed. The religious are only allowed to speak to externs six times in a year, and then only to near relations, the men to those of the first, the women to those of the first and second degree. See the life of Ven. Mary Victoria Fornaro, by F. Ambrose Spinola, Jesuit; and Hist. des Ordres Relig. t. 4. p. 297. [back]
Note 2. See Henschenius, p. 578. [back]