St. Joan of Valois, patron of those in difficult circumstances
On February 4, the Church commemorates St. Joan of Valois (also known as Jane, Jeanne, Joanna of France). The second daughter of Louis X1, King of France, and Charlotte of Savoy, she was born on April 23, 1464. Joan’s father hated her from birth, partly because of her sex and partly because she was sickly and deformed. Joan had a hump on her back and walked with a limp, suggesting that she had curvature of the spine.
At the age of five, she was sent away to be brought up by guardians in a lonely country home, deprived of common comforts and sometimes even necessities. The neglected child offered her whole heart to God, and yearned to do some special service in honor of His blessed Mother. She developed a deep devotion to Our Lady, praying the Angelus daily.
At the age of two months Joan was betrothed to Louis, Duke of Orleans, the future King Louis XII, and the marriage took place when she was just nine years old. The marriage was forced upon Louis and was never consummated.
After her marriage, Joan suffered even more than before. The duke hated the fact that she was imposed on him in the marriage, and even publicly insulted and humiliated her. In spite of this, Joan loved him and remained a devoted and faithful wife for twenty-two years. Joan saved her husband’s life when her brother, King Charles VIII decided to execute him for rebellion. When the duke ascended to the throne in 1498 and wanted to marry Ann of Brittany, he had Pope Alexander VI declare his marriage to Joan null. Joan offered no objections and accepted the situation with the patience that marked her entire life. “If so it is to be, praised be the Lord”, was her remark on this occasion. With humility, in imitation of Our Lady, she accepted the will of God.
In 1500, along with her Franciscan director, Gilbert Nicolas, Joan founded the Order of the Annunciation, a community whose chief rule was to imitate the virtues of Mary, as shown in the Gospels. Jane died in heroic sanctity at the age of 41 on February 4, 1505, and was buried in the royal crown and purple, beneath which lay the habit of her Order. She was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Many miracles, particularly of healing, followed her death. St. Joan is the patron of those in difficult circumstances.
Quote: “I am ugly in body but I want a beautiful soul.” – St. Joan of Valois