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18 June

Venerable Jeanne Mance

Born on November 12, 1606, in Langres, Champagne (France), the second of twelve children, Jeanne is probably among the first pupils entrusted to the Ursulines, who had just arrived in Langres in 1613. She is 20 when her mother dies: together with her sister, she becomes the support of her father and looks after the upbringing and education of her brothers and sisters. During the Thirty Years’ War she volunteers and serves as a nurse in the charity-hospital created by her bishop. In this way she learns to give emergency care to the wounded and the sick.

Once her brothers and sisters grow up and her father is no longer there to require her care, in 1640 Jeanne meets a cousin, who is chaplain of the Saint-Chapelle in Paris, who speaks to her about New France and about the courageous men and women heading to those regions to give witness to their faith. It is at this moment that Jeanne feels for the first time the desire to go to New France. She prays and talks about this with her spiritual director and finally decides to sail for America. She spends some time in Paris where she makes numerous acquaintances that prepare her departure. Among others, she is introduced to Mme de Bullion who asks Jeanne to take charge of a hospital in Ville Marie that she proposed to found with what would be necessary for its maintenance. Jeanne accepts and sets off for La Rochelle.

Here she meets Jérome Le Royer de la Dauversière, who asks her to become bursar of the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal and later nurse for the Montreal contingent. On May 9, 1641, she embarks with the contingent on one of the two ships and arrives in Quebec on August 8. Despite the opposition manifested at Quebec against the founding of a post in Montreal, the founding of Montreal takes place on May 17, 1642, as well as the founding of the Hotel-Dieu in the autumn of the same year. Jeanne devotes herself entirely to Ville Marie and to the direction of the Hotel-Dieu, making several trips to France for these purposes. She dies on June 18, 1673.