St. Jane of Valois
Jane of Valois is also called Joan of Valois or Jeanne de France. She was born in 1464 to Louis XI and his second wife Charlotte of Savoy. Her father wanted a son and rejected Jeanne on this account and because she was born with deformities. Louis sent her to a country estate to be raised by guardians; she was treated coldly and given few comforts. In her distress, the girl turned to God and the Blessed Mother. Although she dreamed of founding a religious community, the king, her father made her marry his second cousin, Louis the Duke of Orléans, who was the heir to the throne. The duke resented being compelled to marry Jeanne and treated her badly, but she treated him kindly and exerted every effort to have him freed when he disgraced himself and was imprisoned. He never returned her affection; when he became King Louis XII, he promptly sought to have their marriage annulled, on the grounds he had been forced to marry her and the marriage had never been consummated. Jeanne defended the marriage before the verdict came, but accepted the annulment in peace once the order came. Louis XII gave her the Duchy of Berry to govern. As Duchess of Berry, she worked diligently for her subjects’ welfare. In 1500, Jeanne founded the Order of the Annonciades which was dedicated to imitating Mary and practicing prayer and penance. Later, Jeanne took the vows herself, took off her wedding ring, and wore the habit under her clothes. She prayed for her faithless husband and gave orders that the nuns should continue to pray for him after her death. Jeanne died at Bourges on February 4, 1505. Her spiritual daughters and the people of Berry mourned her and many miracles occurred after her death. Due to delays in her cause, she was not canonized until 1950. Her feast is February 4.