Thouret, Joan Antida, St.

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Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida; b. Sancey-le-Long, France, Nov. 27, 1765; d. Naples, Italy, Aug. 24, 1826. Her parents, François Thouret and Joan Claudia Labbe, were pious proprietors of a small farm. When Joan was 16 her mother died, and she assumed the management of her father's household. In 1787 after opposing all her father's attempts to make her marry, she obtained his permission to join the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The dispersal of religious communities caused by the french revolution compelled Joan to return home, where she devoted herself to nursing the sick, educating the young, and securing aid for persecuted priests. After the fall of Robespierre, she entered a new Congregation of Charity, which had established itself in Switzerland because of conditions in France. For two years she shared this group's precarious existence and hardships, journeying with it from Switzerland to Germany and Austria, and returning with it to Switzerland. Heeding the advice of two emigrés French priests, she went to Besançon where she opened a school for poor girls and a hospital (April 11, 1799). Soon, joined by other young women, Joan Antida wrote the rules and constitutions of her institute, which the archbishop of Besançon approved. In 1810 Madame Letizia, mother of Napoleon I, offered to the congregation the house of Regina Coeli in Naples; and Joan went with eight sisters and established schools and hospitals in Italy. Joan's close adherence to the Holy See, and Pius VII's approval of the rule in 1819 resulted in bitter opposition toward her and her institute from the clergy of Besançon, who were tinged with Gallicanism. The foundress had to endure attacks on her reputation and was even denied admission to her first French foundations. After her death in the Regina Coeli convent in Naples, she was buried in the chapel there. She was beatified on May 23, 1926, and canonized on Jan. 24, 1934.

Feast: May 23.

See Also: charity, sisters of

Bibliography: j.a. thouret, Sainte Jeanne-Antide Thouret, fondatrice des Soeurs de la charité, 1765-1826: lettres et documents (2d ed. Besanccedil;on 1983). f. trochu, La Bienheureuse Jeanne Antide Thouret (Paris 1933; s.l. 1970). Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret (Rome 1934); Saint Jeanne Antide Thouret, tr. j. joyce (London 1966).

[j. a. gigante]