May 15 – Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac

May 11, 2017

St. Jeanne de Lestonnac

Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac (December 27, 1556 – February 2, 1640) was founderess of the order The Company of Mary Our Lady.

She was born in Bordeaux, France in 1556 to a prominent family. Her father, Richard de Lestonnac, was a member of the French Parliament while her mother, Jeanne Eyquem, was the sister of the philosopher, Michel de Montaigne. She grew up in a time where the conflict between the Protestant reformists and the defenders of the Catholic faith was at its height. This was evident in her family. While her mother was an enthusiastic Calvinist, her father and her uncle Montaigne adhered to the Catholic tradition.

Original shield of the Order of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, founded by St. Jean of Lestonnac.

Original shield of the Order of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, founded by St. Jean of Lestonnac.

At the age of 17 she married Baron de Montferrand-Landiras and had 3 children, but these died after they were born. Later on she had 5 more children, 2 boys and 3 girls. She was married for 24 years before her husband died. This marked a painful time in her life where not only her husband but her father, uncle and eldest son also died.

She didn’t feel “complete” after 4 of the great men she loved had died. She felt God was calling her for a plan and needed “sacrifice” to make it complete.

Subscription15

Following her husband’s death, Jeanne de Lestonnac turned to a contemplative life and entered the Cistercian Monastery in Toulouse at the age of 46 and took the name Jeanne of Saint Bernard, however, she became very ill and had to leave. After the leaving the monastery she lived in the La Mothe countryside and began a period of deep discernment. In 1607, at the age of 51, and with the approval of Pope Paul V she established the religious order: The Company of Mary. She envisions the essential task of the order is to educate girls. Soon the order established its first school for girls in Bordeaux. By the time she died in 1640 at the age of 84, 30 houses existed in France.

The tomb of St. Jeanne de Lestonnac in the chapel of Notre Dame School.

The tomb of St. Jeanne de Lestonnac in the chapel of Notre Dame School.

Jeanne de Lestonnac was beatified in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and was canonized on May 15, 1949 by Pope Pius XII. Today her religious order has over 2,500 sisters and are found in 17 countries throughout Europe, Africa, North America and South America.

Print Friendly
Share

Previous post:

Next post: