St Joan of Valois
Joan, or Jane,
the physically deformed daughter of King Louis XI of France, was endowed with wonderful gifts of
mind and heart. Although she suffered much throughout her life, she accepted her disabilities with
patience and spent many of her days in prayer and meditation.
Under the guidance of her
spiritual director, a Franciscan priest from whom she received the habit of the Third Order of St.
Francis, young Joan prepared to give her life in service to God as a member of a religious
But her father had other plans. He announced that Joan would marry the Duke of
Orleans, and no objections were to be voiced. Joan dutifully obliged, though her marriage was not a
happy one. When the duke ascended the throne as King Louis XII, his first act was to divorce the
queen on the grounds that he had only agreed to the marriage to escape the anger of the king, his
predecessor. The pope agreed that compulsion had been involved, and declared the marriage null and
Joan felt an immediate sense of relief and made her way to Bourges. There she lived a secluded
life of prayer and, in 1501, founded a contemplative order of nuns the Sisters of the Annunciation.
God called Joan home only a few years later.
She was canonized in 1950.
Other Saints of the day: