Lestonnac, Jeanne de, St.

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Foundress of the company of mary (ODN); b. Bordeaux, France, 1556; d. there, Feb. 2, 1640. She was the niece of the philosopher Michel de montaigne. Jeanne married Gaston de Montferrand in 1573 and bore seven children. In 1603, six years after her husband's death, she entered the Cistercian convent at Les Feuillants, Toulouse. Her health failed after ten months, and she left the convent upon the advice of her superiors. She then devoted herself to charitable works in which she was joined by several friends. From this group she founded her religious congregation for the education of girls, approved by paul v in 1607. Mother de Lestonnac governed the congregation until 1622 when, through malicious gossip, she was discredited and replaced as superior. After bearing this trial and subsequent humiliations with heroic patience and confidence in God, she was vindicated in 1624. Her last years were devoted to assisting new foundations and to revising the order's constitutions. She was buried in Bordeaux, but her body was found preserved in 1822 at the solemn translation of her remains. She was declared venerable in 1834, beatified by leo xiii on Sept. 23, 1900, and canonized by pius xii on May 15, 1949.

Feast: Feb. 2.

Bibliography: p. hoesl, In the Service of Youth, tr. j. carr (London 1951). v. mercier, La Vénérable Jeanne de Lestonnac (Paris 1891). f. soury-lavergne, Chemin d'éducation: sur les traces de Jeanne de Lestonnac (Chambray 1985). c. testore, Ste. Giovanna de Lestonnac di Montferrant-Landiras (Rome 1949).

[m. g. mcneil]