St. Francis de Sales, the co-founder of the Visitation Order, passed away on December 28, 1622. He left a significant spiritual legacy that ripples into the life of the Church today. Thankfully, for the sake of the blossoming order, its new spiritual director would be the great St. Vincent de Paul. The order has been under the care of holy people up to this day, but it is incredible to reflect upon the great impact set in motion by God’s saints.
In lieu of our usual chat installment, we present to you the words of great saints and what they had to say of each other. St. Vincent de Paul became the spiritual director for the Visitation, and we would like to share parts of letters from him and St. Jane de Chantal.
If you enjoyed this or have enjoyed our chats, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday!
How did St Jane and St Vincent arrange the spiritual direction sessions together?
Even when the requirements of new houses called Jane away from Paris for a time, she failed not to communicate with her director by letter; and several of these touching memorials of her fervent devotion and profound humility are still preserved.
The following is one of them.
St. Jane de Chantal
“So you are engaged to work, my very dear father, in the province of Lyons; and thus we are deprived of the sight of you for a long time. But to what God does we can say nothing, but bless His name for all things, as I do, my dearest father, especially for the liberty that your charity has given me of continuing to confide in you, and of troubling you with my affairs; and this I shall do as frankly as possible. I have spent four days in the spiritual exercises; I could not give more time, because of the many matters which forced themselves upon me.
“I have seen the need which I have of cultivating humility and self-sacrifice for my neighbor,—virtues which I took in hand last year, and which our Lord has given me grace to practice a little; but He it is who has done all, and who will yet do this, if it shall please Him , since He gives me so many opportunities. As to my state, I believe that I am simply waiting for what it may please God to do with me; I have neither desires nor intentions ; nothing influences me but the wish to leave God to act; and however little I may see my way, this is at the bottom of my soul: I have neither view nor opinion as to the future; but I do at the present hour what seems necessary to be done, without thinking of what is more distant.
“Oftentimes all is in rebellion in the weaker part, which causes me much distress; but then I know that in patience I shall possess my soul. Moreover, I am wearied to excess in my charge; for my spirit greatly hates action, and necessity forcing me thereto, my body and mind are exhausted; on the other hand, my imagination troubles me greatly in all my exercises, for which I feel great repugnance. Our Lord thus permits me to have many external difficulties, to the end that nothing in this life may please me, except the will of God alone, to which He wishes mine to be conformed. May He have mercy upon me! I beg you to pray earnestly for me; and I will not fail to pray, as I do with all my heart, that He will strengthen you for the charge which He has given you.”
St. Vincent de Paul
We have recorded, under Vincent’s own hand, the opinion which he entertained of this holy woman; wherein, among other virtues which characterized her, he especially mentions, that humility, mortification, obedience, zeal for the sanctification of her holy order and for the salvation of the souls of the poor, showed themselves in her in a supreme degree.”
In a word,” he adds, “I never perceived any imperfection in her; but a continual exercise of all sorts of virtues.” He concludes the formal document we have just quoted by the following extraordinary relation: “I have no doubt that God will one day manifest her sanctity, as I believe has been already done in several parts of this kingdom and in different ways, of which the following is one which happened to a person worthy of trust, and who, I am sure, would rather die than tell a falsehood.
Vision of Two Saints Uniting With God
This person had received intelligence that the end of this holy woman was approaching; thereupon he knelt down to pray for her, and the first thought which came into his mind was to make an act of contrition for the sins which she had committed, and which she commonly committed; and immediately afterwards there appeared to him a small globe, like fire, which rose from the earth and advanced to meet another larger and more brilliant orb; the two united, and then rose still higher to enter and combine themselves with a third infinitely larger and more luminous than the others: and it was told him interiorly that the first globe was the soul of Madame de Chantal; the second, that of St. Francis de Sales; and the third, the Divine Essence: and that the soul of the first was united to that of the second, and both to God.
[Source: The Life of St. Vincent de Paul by Henry Bedford,1856]