St. Jane de Chantal was a devoted mother and wife who, after losing her husband in a tragic accident at age 28, promised to dedicate her whole heart to the service of Christ. She did not initially understand how her vow was to unfold. Over the next ten years, Jane grew in her spirituality as she realized and embraced God’s loving will for her. She became the first Visitation Sister in 1610 as she and St. Francis de Sales founded the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary. Eighty-seven Visitation Monasteries were subsequently established before Jane’s death in December, 1641.
Throughout much of St. Jane’s life, she opened her own home to the sick and the poor. First, as a married woman and widow from her own home, Jane offered food to the hungry and ran a small apothecary for those in need. Then, in the early days of her religious vocation, Jane ministered to the surrounding community of Annecy, France, with her first Visitation Sisters. Jane extended compassion and kindness to guests and strangers alike. These acts of genuine charity were the roots of Salesian hospitality.