Saint Joan de Lestonnac
Despite the political and religious climate into which she was born,Saint Joan de Lestonnac led a devout Catholic life.
Saint Joan was born in Bordeaux, France, on the 27th of December, 1556.Her family was a distinguished and rich member of the Kingdom of France.
Her father was said to be a Catholic named Richard de Lestonnac who wasa respected part of the Legislative arm of Bordeaux. Her mother wasJeanne Eyquem.
Saint Joan’s mother was a Calvinist and tried to convince Joan to sharein her faith. Joan vehemently refused and instead pursued her devotionto the Catholic faith.
Her mother was unimpressed but she was supported by her father anduncles.
Saint Joan was 17 when she became betrothed to Gaston de Montferrant whowas at that time Baron of Landiras.
The marriage was a very happy one and Saint Joan had seven children forGaston de Montferrant. Unfortunately, only four of the seven childrensurvived.
Life continued as usual until tragedy struck again.
In 1597 when Saint Joan de Lestonnac was 41 years old, her husbandpassed away.
She was shattered. They had been together most of her life and withouthim, she felt alone. Seven months after the death of Gaston deMontferrant, her father and uncle passed away.
Regardless of her pain, she made sure that she raised her survivingchildren properly. She made sure to provide for them and by the timethey were grown enough to handle responsibilities, she decided to pursuea religious life.
Dedication and Devotion
At the age of 46 in 1602, Saint Joan de Lestonnac went to Toulouse andjoined the Cistercian Monastery. There, she was given the Christian nameJeanne of Saint Bernard and dedicated her life to working for God.
At Toulouse, she prayed fervently, fasted constantly, and took a vow ofpoverty, making it a point to restrain from vanity. This went on for sixmonths until her body could no longer withstand the strain.
Saint Joan fell ill and had to leave the monastery to recuperate. Shetraveled back to her estate where she lived for some time.
At her estate, she continued to pursue religion but in a different way.Saint Joan focused on providing for the poor and sick.
She began to set up meetings with other young women who she taught aboutreligion. As much as she was interested in teaching others and being asource of hope to them, she also needed mentors of her own. This causedher to adopt the lives of Saints like Saint Scholastica.
When Saint Joan was 49, Bordeaux was struck by plague. Many died andmany were left seriously sick.
Touched by the misery that had touched the land, she set out back to herhometown. Risking her life, she went around preaching, praying, andproviding for the sick.
Saint Joan’s brother, who was a Jesuit, introduced her to Jean deBordes and François de Raymond. These two elderly men were JesuitFathers and were interested in setting up a school.
They invited Saint Joan de Lestonnac to establish a female-only schoolfor the daughters in the area. Saint Joan set up a cloistered communityof sisters who doubled as teachers for the children.
This Benedictine cloistered community was named Compagnie de Notre-Dameand authorized in 1607 by Pope Paul V.
The establishment had initially been placed near a priori but was latermoved to an empty monastery on rue du Hâ.
The monastery continued to grow and soon, there was a spread ofdifferent schools for girls in different towns.
Death and Canonization
Saint Joan de Lestonnac died at the age of 84 in France in the year1640.
At the time of her death, there were said to be about 30 schools intotal.
Saint Joan de Lestonnac was canonized on the 15th of May, 1949. She iscelebrated by the Catholic Church on the same date as her canonization.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Joan de Lestonnac
- Did you know that Saint Joan Lestonnac is the patron saint of abuse
victims and widows?
- Did you know that Saint Joan Lestonnac was chased out of the
monastery as a conspiracy by one of the sisters? The sister wanted
to wield authority. She later repented but Joan refused to become
superior once again.
- Did you know that Saint Joan Lestonnac had a vision of Saint Mary?
Saint Mary showed her that she was going to help lost children.
- Did you know that Saint Joan Lestonnac’s community now has over 3000
sisters in more than 17 countries?
- Did you know that Saint Joan thought she was going to die from her
Prayer to St. Joan de Lestonnac
Dear God, when life is not going my way, I want other people to make itright again. I sometimes choose to shower my unhappiness on whomever Imeet. Help me to concentrate on your blessings this day so that I can bean inspiration to others and reflect my faith in you.