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Title: Selected Letters of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal
Author: Chantal, Jane Frances de
Language: English
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  Nihil Obstat.
        F. THOMAS BERGH, O.S.B.,
              CENSOR DEPUTATUS.

        EDM. CAN. SURMONT,

        _Die 6 Novembris, 1917._


(_Foundress of the Order of the Visitation._)]





  _All rights reserved_


We are all apt so to idealise the Saints whom we love to study and
honour, and strive to imitate, that we are in danger of forgetting that
they possessed a human nature like our own, subject to many trials,
weaknesses and frailties. They had to struggle as we have to struggle.
The only difference is that their constancy and perseverance were
greater far than ours.

Biographers are often responsible for the false tendency to which we
allude. They like to give us the finished portrait of the Saints, and
only too often they omit in great part the details of the long and weary
toil that went to make the picture which they delight to paint.

In the case of some of the Saints we are able to come nearer to the
reality by reading the letters which have been preserved, in which in
their own handwriting they have set down, without thought of those who
in later days might read their words, the details of their daily life
and struggle. Thus in the few selected Letters of the holy foundress of
the Visitation which are now being published in an English translation
we get glimpses of her real character and spiritual growth which may be
more helpful to us than many pages of formal biography. In one place she
excuses the brevity of a letter because she is "feeling the cold to-day
and pressed for time." In another she tells a Sister, "do everything to
get well, for it is only your nerves." Nerves are evidently not a new
malady nor a lately devised excuse. She knew the weariness of delay:
"still no news from Rome.... I think His Grace the Archbishop would be
glad to help us.... Beg him, I beseech you, to push on the matter."

Haste and weather had their effect on her as on us: "I write in such
haste that I forget half of what I want to say.... We will make a
chalice veil for you, but not until the very hot weather is over, for
one cannot work properly while it lasts."

What mother, especially in these days of sorrow and anxiety, can read
unmoved the Saint's own words as she speaks of her daughter's death, and
of her fears about her son. "I am almost in despair ... so miserable am
I about it that I do not know which way to turn, if not to the
Providence of God, there to bury my longings, confiding to His hands not
only the honour but even the salvation of this already half lost child.
Oh! the incomparable anguish of this affliction. No other grief can come
near to it."

And then we feel her mingled grief and joy when at last she learnt that
this, her only son, had given up his life, fighting for his King, after
a humble and fervent reception of the Sacraments.

Thus in the midst of the daily small worries of life, and of the great
sorrows that at one time or other fall to the lot of all, we see a brave
and generous soul, with human gifts and qualities like to our own,
treading her appointed path to God.

No one can read her words without carrying therefrom fresh courage for
his life, and a new determination to battle steadfastly to the end.

                                          FRANCIS CARDINAL BOURNE,
                                        _Archbishop of Westminster._

        _August 21st, 1917._


The letters here translated are, with a few mentioned exceptions,
selected from "Sainte Jeanne-Françoise Frémyot de Chantal: Sa Vie et ses
Oeuvres," "First edition entirely conformable to the original
manuscripts published under the supervision of the religious of the
Visitation of Holy Mary at Annecy, by E. Plon and Co., rue Garanciere
10, Paris, 1877."

The rendering cannot be looked upon as entirely literal, but the
translators have kept as closely to the original as was consistent with
an easy rendering in modern English.

The circular letter to the Sisters of the Visitation (page 152) is a
remarkable document worthy of the reader's special attention, as are
also the letters to "Dom John of St. Francis" on St. Francis de Sales,
and the subtle manifestation of St. Jane Frances' own state of soul in
her letter to "A great Servant of God."

It has been thought better to leave the superscription heading all the
Saint's letters, "Vive Jésus" (Let Jesus reign), as in the original, and

The title of "Sister Deposed" given to the immediate predecessor in
office of the actual Superior is peculiar to the Visitation Order.

There are, as will be seen, a few slight omissions, but only when the
matter was of no interest or importance.

The Saint, as the reader will observe, does not keep to any fixed rule
in regard to capital letters.


  LETTER                                                          PAGE


  I. TO ST. FRANCIS DE SALES                                         3

  II. TO THE SAME                                                    4

  III. TO M. LEGROS                                                  5


  V. TO MADAME D'AUXERRE                                             7

  VI. TO ST. FRANCIS DE SALES                                        9


  VIII. TO SISTER J. C. DE BRÉCHARD                                 12

  IX. TO SISTER P. M. DE CHÂTEL                                     15

  X. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                          17

  XI. TO THE SAME                                                   20

  XII. TO THE SAME                                                  23

  III. TO SISTER P. M. DE CHÂTEL                                    27

  XIV. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                        30

  XV. TO SISTERS P. M. DE CHÂTEL AND M. A. DE BLONAY                33

  XVI. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                        37

  XVII. TO MADAME DE GOUFFIER                                       40

  XVIII. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                      42

  XIX. SISTER M. A. DE BLONAY                                       46

  XX. TO THE SAME                                                   49

  XXI. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                        51

  XXII. TO THE SAME                                                 55

  XXIII. TO MOTHER J. C. DE BRÉCHARD                                58

  XXIV. TO M. DE NEUCHÈZE                                           60

  XXV. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                        61

  XXVI. TO MADAME DE LA FLÉCHÈRE                                    64

  XXVII. TO SISTER P. J. DE MONTHOUX                                65

  XXVIII. TO M. MICHEL FAVRE                                        68

  XXIX. TO SISTER A. M. ROSSET                                      71

  XXX. TO SISTER P. J. DE MONTHOUX                                  72

  XXXI. TO MADAME DE LA FLÉCHÈRE                                    73

  XXXII. TO MOTHER J. C. DE BRÉCHARD                                75

  XXXIII. TO MOTHER P. M. DE CHÂTEL                                 76

  XXXIV. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                      77

  XXXV. TO SISTER M. A. HUMBERT                                     79



  XXXVIII. TO MOTHER P. M. DE CHÂTEL                                83

  XXXIX. TO MADEMOISELLE DE CHANTAL                                 85

  XL. TO MOTHER J. C. DE BRÉCHARD                                   87

  XLI. TO MADEMOISELLE DE CHANTAL                                   90

  XLII. TO SISTER M. M. LEGROS                                      92

  XLIII. TO MADAME DU TERTRE                                        94

  XLIV. TO M. DE PALIERNE                                           95

  XLV. TO ST. FRANCIS DE SALES                                     100

  XLVI. TO MADAME DE LA FLÉCHÈRE                                   102

  XLVII. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON                              103

  XLVIII. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                    105

  XLIX. TO M. DE NEUCHÈZE                                          108

  L. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT                                   110

  LI. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE                                        112

  LII. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT                                 116

  LIII. TO MOTHER M. H. DE CHASTELLUX                              118

  LIV. TO SISTER M. M. MILLETOT                                    123

  LV. TO SISTER F. G. DE LA GRAVE                                  124

  LVI. TO THE BISHOP OF AUTUN                                      125

  LVII. TO SISTER A. M. ROSSET                                     127


       AT PARIS                                                    139

  LX. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON                                 141

  LXI. TO SISTER A. C. DE SAUTEREAU                                144

  LXII. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT                                146

  LXIII. TO THE SAME                                               148

  LXIV. TO MOTHER M. A. FICHET                                     149

  LXV. TO THE SISTERS OF THE VISITATION                            152

  LXVI. TO SISTER A. M. DE LAGE DE PUYLAURENS                      164

  LXVII. TO THE BARON DE CHANTAL                                   166

  LXVIII. TO THE SAME                                              167

  LXIX. TO M. DE COULANGES                                         168

  LXX. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON                                169

  LXXI. TO THE SAME                                                170

  LXXII. TO MOTHER M. A. FICHET                                    171

  LXXIII. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT                              173

  LXXIV. TO A VISITATION SUPERIOR                                  175

  LXXV. TO MOTHER J. H. DE GÉRARD                                  176

  LXXVI. TO SISTER F. A. DE LA CROIX DE FÉSIGNEY                   179

  LXXVII. TO ST. VINCENT DE PAUL                                   181

  LXXVIII. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON                            183

  LXXIX. TO MOTHER FAVRE (EXTRACT)                                 185

  LXXX. TO SISTER A. M. CLÉMENT                                    186

  LXXXI. TO MOTHER C. C. DE CRÉMAUX DE LA GRANGE                   187

  LXXXII. TO M. POITON                                             189

  LXXXIII. TO DOM GALICE                                           191

  LXXXIV. TO THE SAME                                              193

  LXXXV. TO MOTHER A. M. CLÉMENT                                   194

  LXXXVI. TO SISTER M. D. GOUBERT                                  195

  LXXXVII. TO DOM GALICE                                           196

  LXXXVIII. TO SISTER M. A. DE MORVILLE                            198

  LXXXIX. TO M. DE COYSIA                                          201

  XC. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON                                 203

  XCI. TO MGR. ANDRÉ FRÉMYOT                                       205

  XCII. TO A BLIND SISTER                                          208

  XCIII. TO SISTER B. M. DE HARAUCOURT                             209

  XCIV. TO SISTER P. J. DE MONTHOUX                                211

  XCV. TO M. NOËL BRULART                                          214

  XCVI. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON                               216

  XCVII. TO M. NOËL BRULART (EXTRACT)                              218

  XCVIII. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON                             219

  XCIX. TO SISTER M. A. DE RABUTIN                                 224

  C. TO M. NOËL BRULART                                            225

  CI. TO MOTHER M. A. LE ROY                                       229

  CII. TO SISTER A. L. DE MARIN DE SAINT MICHEL                    231

  CIII. TO THE ABBÉ DE VAUX                                        234

  CIV. TO A GREAT SERVANT OF GOD                                   237

  CV. TO MOTHER A. M. DE RABUTIN                                   243

  CVI. TO ST. VINCENT DE PAUL                                      244

  CVII. TO SISTER C. M. F. DE CUSANCE                              246

  CVIII. TO SISTER J. B. GOJOS                                     248

  CIX. TO SISTER L. A. DE LA FAYETTE                               249

  CX. TO THE DUCHESS DE MONTMORENCY                                252

  CXI. TO A NOVICE                                                 254


"My brother de Thorens," said St. Francis to one of his friends,
"travelled last month into Burgundy to fetch his little wife, and
brought back with her a mother-in-law whom neither he is worthy of
having nor I of serving. God has given her to me. She has come to be my
daughter in order that I may teach her to die to the world and to live
to Jesus Christ. Urged by God's design over her she has left all, and
has provided for all with a strength and prudence not common to her sex,
such that in her every action the good will find wherewith to praise her
and the wicked will not know in what to blame her."

In a letter the holy Bishop expresses himself as follows: "The Queen Bee
of our new hive, because she is so eager in the pursuit of virtue, is
much tormented with sickness, yet she finds no remedy to her liking save
in the observance of her Rule. I have never seen such singleness of
intention, such submission to authority, such detachment from all
things, such acceptance of the will of God, such fervour in prayer as
this good Mother shows. For my part I believe that God will make her
like unto St. Paula, St. Angela, St. Catherine of Genoa, and the other
holy widows." Writing elsewhere to one of his relations he says: "I feel
unutterable consolation in seeing the moderation of our dear Mother in
regard to all the obstacles that come in her way and her total
indifference to the things of earth. In all truth I may say that,
proportionately to the graces received, a soul could not arrive at
higher perfection. I regard her as an honour to her sex, one who with
the science of the Saints leads a most holy, hidden life concealed by an
ordinary exterior, who does nothing out of the common and yet is
irreproachable in all things."

Once again, writing to a Bishop in answer to a letter about Mother de
Chantal, St. Francis says: "I cannot speak but with respect of this most
holy soul which combines profound humility with a very broad and very
capable mind. She is simple and sincere as a child, of a lofty and solid
judgement. A great soul with a courage for holy undertakings beyond that
of her sex. Indeed, I never read the description of the valiant woman of
Solomon without thinking of Mother de Chantal. I write all this to you
in confidence, for this truly humble soul would be greatly distressed if
she knew that I had said so much in her praise."


I. _To St. Francis de Sales._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1611.

How soon may I hope for the happy day when I shall irrevocably offer
myself to my God? He has so filled me with the thought of being entirely
His, and it has come home to me in such a wonderful and powerful manner,
that, were my emotion to last as it now is, I could not live under its
intensity. Never have I had such a burning love and desire for the
evangelical life and for the great perfection to which God calls me.
What I feel about it is quite impossible to put into words. But, alas!
my resolve to be very faithful to the greatness of the love of this
divine Saviour is balanced by the feeling of my incapacity to correspond
with it. Oh, how painful to love is this barrier of powerlessness! But
why do I speak thus? By doing so I degrade, it seems to me, the gift of
God which urges me to live in perfect poverty, in humble obedience, and
in spotless purity.

II. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1612.

My Lord and my own Father, I pray God to fill your soul with His
choicest blessings, with Himself, and above all with the most pure love
of Jesus. Now, for fear others may alarm you, I am telling you myself
that this morning I was taken very ill. After dinner I had a shivering
fit and collapsed completely for a time, but now, thank God, I feel
quite well again; so do not let this trouble you, for the love of God,
that God Whom my soul loves, adores, and desires to serve with the
utmost singleness of heart and with perfect purity. Obtain for me, my
Father, when to-morrow you hold this divine Saviour, His grace in such
abundance that I may for ever adore, serve, and love Him perfectly. It
is an immense consolation to know that you are occupied with that
heavenly work "the Divine Love."[A] With what ardour I sigh for that
love! Alas! my God, when shall we see one another utterly consumed

I have seen the good aunt: what a venerable old lady she is! I assure
you I am well now, and you know I would not say so if it were not true.
May Jesus reign and His Holy Mother. Amen.


[A] The Treatise on the Love of God.

III. _To M. Legros at Dijon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _18th June, 1612._

We have given your daughter a true welcome. This offering which you and
she have made so lovingly cannot fail to be very agreeable to the good
God. You may be consoled and at peace about her for she is, and will
always be, very dear to me. God obliges me to have an exceeding great
care and love for all those whom He leads here and the goodness of your
heart, together with her confidence in me, urges and binds me closely to
her. I have not leisure for more, but once again, let me assure you that
this dear little soul has found here an affectionate Father and Mother,
so you may be happy about her. I am extremely obliged to you for the
trouble you have taken about that business (illegible lines).... May God
fill you with grace, consolation, and strength to walk in the way of His
divine commandments! I affectionately salute all your children, for whom
I wish a like grace. Madame Legros and I have agreed to be as sisters to
one another. I greatly love and esteem her: she is a brave, generous
woman. God guide her to Himself.

                          Always, Sir, your very humble servant,

IV. _The Duke of Savoy to St. Jane Frances de Chantal._


Your choice of my daughter, the Infanta Duchess of Mantua, as your
Mother and Protectress gives us much pleasure. We are delighted that you
have erected your Congregation in our States, as we profoundly esteem
your piety, charity, and devotion, and we desire by this letter to
assure you that you have our special protection, and that it is our wish
to aid, favour, and assist you in all that is necessary for the carrying
out of your good work. We have written to this effect to our nephew the
Marquis de Lans and to our Senate of Savoy, to which you can always have
recourse. The Countess de Tournon is charged to assist the Infanta at
the solemnity which you will be celebrating and to instruct her as to
her duties in regard to you. May I beg a remembrance in your prayers and
in those of your devout flock, whom I pray God to have in His holy

                                               CHARLES EMMANUEL,
                                                    _Duke of Savoy._
  _22nd_ of _December_, 1613.

V. _To Madame d'Auxerre,[A] Foundress of the Monastery of the Visitation
at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1614.

Madame, My most dear and beloved Sister, The grace of Our Lord be in
your heart.

He has been pleased to grant you your request and it is He alone who has
inspired you with this desire. Again, He alone has put into the hearts
of this little Community a feeling of general satisfaction in regard to
your undertaking, and for this intention we have communicated and prayed
much. As for me I tell you, trustfully, in confidence, that when I was
speaking to our Lord about this affair His divine goodness seemed to
make manifest to me that He Himself led you here with His own hand. This
consoled me and made me resolve to give you what He commands, and this
my dearly loved Sister is my answer to what you ask. I give it simply
and in all sincerity. O how happy you are to have been thus called by
God to this most excellent service. Respond courageously to such
abundant graces and remain very humble and faithful to His holy will.

I must say this one word more in answer to what you feel as regards
God's goodness in giving you as guide this great and admirable servant
of His.[B] Know, my dearest Sister, that I also so strongly feel this,
that every day I make a special act of thanksgiving to God for it, and
the longer we live the more we shall understand what a grace it is. I
remember, in reference to it, a Capuchin once telling me that it
increased his regard for me to think of the peculiar care and love that
God must have for me to have given me this grace.... Remain now full of
thanksgiving in peace and certainty, as much as it is possible to have
in this life, that you are carrying out God's holy will.

We pray continually for you. All our Sisters unite with me in saluting
you most cordially. I, indeed, look upon your heart, my beloved Sister,
as mine own, and because this is the very truth you must look upon my
heart as yours in His who is our only Love.

Adieu. May we belong always wholly to God.

                           I remain with incomparable affection,
                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] This pious widow together with two other ladies made a journey to
Annecy in 1613 in order to place themselves under the direction of St.
Francis de Sales. On their return to Lyons all three petitioned the
Archbishop, Mgr. de Marquemont, to establish a Monastery of the
Visitation in that town. Before, however, acceding to their request he
asked St. Francis the object of the new Order. The Saint at once
replied: "To give God souls of prayer who will be so interior as to be
found worthy to serve and adore His infinite Majesty in spirit and in
truth. To the great Orders already established in the Church we leave
the praiseworthy exercises and brilliant virtues by which they honour
Our Lord. But I wish that the Religious of my Order should have no other
ambition than to glorify Him by their lowliness, so that this little
Institute of the Visitation may be as a dovecot of innocent doves whose
care and employment will be to meditate on the law of the Lord without
making itself seen or heard in the world, remaining hidden in the clefts
of the Rock and the Hollow places of the wall there to give to their
Beloved, as long as life shall last, proofs of sorrow and love by their
lowly and humble sighing."

[B] St. Francis de Sales.

VI. _To St. Francis de Sales._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1614.

I write because I cannot refrain from doing so; for this morning I am
more wearisome to myself than usual. My interior state is so gravely
defective that, in anguish of spirit, I see myself giving way on every
side. Assuredly, my good Father, I am almost overwhelmed by this abyss
of misery. The presence of God, which was formerly such a delight to me,
now makes me tremble all over and shudder with fear. I bethink myself
that the divine eye of Him whom I adore, with entire submission, pierces
right through my soul looking with indignation upon all my thoughts,
words and works. Death itself, it seems to me, would be less painful to
bear than the distress of mind which this occasions, and I feel as if
all things had power to harm me. I am afraid of everything; I live in
dread, not because of harm to myself, but because I fear to displease
God. Oh, how far away His help seems! thinking of this I spent last
night in great bitterness and could utter no other words than these, "My
God, my God, alas! why hast Thou forsaken me." At daybreak God gave me a
little light in the highest part of my soul, yet only there; but it was
almost imperceptible; nor did the rest of my soul and its faculties
share the enjoyment, which lasted only about the time of half a Hail
Mary, then, trouble rushed back upon me with a mighty force, and all was
darkness. Notwithstanding the weariness of this dereliction, I said,
though in utter dryness, "Do, Lord, whatever is pleasing to Thee, I wish
it. Annihilate me, I am content. Overwhelm me, I most sincerely desire
it. Tear out, cut, burn, do just as Thou pleasest, I am Thine." God has
shown me that He does not make much account of faith that comes of
sentiment and emotions. This is why, though against my inclination, I
never wish for sensible devotion. I do not desire it. God is enough for
me. Notwithstanding my absolute misery I hope in Him, and I trust He
will continue to support me so that His will may be accomplished in me.
Take my feeble heart into your hands, my true Father and Lord, and do
what you see to be wisest with it.

VII. _To the Sisters of the Monastery of the Visitation of Annecy._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                              _16th February, 1615._

Excuse me, I beg of you, my dearest and very good Sisters, if I do not
answer you each one separately, which indeed the kindness you have shown
me deserves that I should do, and my affection for you would desire: but
neither head nor leisure permit it, and besides, God be thanked for it,
I see no necessity to write to any one in particular. Persevere in your
good desires and every day become more faithful to the observance of
your holy Rules and love them better. This alone, believe me, should be
your sole care. Cast not a look upon anything else and be assured that
you will walk upon the right road and will make a good and prosperous
voyage. May God in His infinite mercy be with you and bless you so that
you may perfectly accomplish His holy will. With all my heart I desire
this, for I love you all, and each one individually, with the greatest
possible affection, far beyond what you could imagine. This I tell you
all, not forgetting those who have not written to me. God bless you, my
very dear daughters. May He be your sole love and desire. Pray, I
beseech you, for the needs of your poor Mother, who is very

                  Your most humble and unworthy servant in our Lord.

VIII. _To Sister Jeanne Charlotte de Bréchard, Assistant and Mistress of
Novices at Annecy._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   _July 9th, 1615._

See now how trouble is lifted off your shoulders by the presence you
enjoy of my very honoured Lord![A] He is most anxious to work at our
Rules,[B] and is about to curtail them considerably at the desire of the
Archbishop of Lyons. I think he intends to spend these months of July
and August at Annecy, for he tells me that during the great heat he has
more leisure, having fewer visitors. I shall be very glad when he has
finished the blessed book so much desired and so long awaited.[C] Until
I have put it into the printer's hands for publication I am not, I
believe, to leave here for Annecy. So if you are in such great need of
me, help by your fidelity and your prayers to secure time for this good
and dear Lord to complete the work. The whole day, as far as he is
free, ought to be devoted to it, but though it no longer requires much
application, yet it progresses very slowly: such is the will of the
great God, and may His will be accomplished here and everywhere. For all
that, you must keep up your courage; we shall find September upon us
before we know where we are, and then God will console us. You cannot
think how I am looking forward to my return--I am simply longing for it;
but, my love, His Lordship does not agree with you as to its present
necessity; he considers I am more useful here now, to satisfy certain
persons. Meanwhile, I am getting on with our little business, and I
trust, through the goodness of God and the brave heart of my dearest
Sister, that all will go tranquilly till I return. Please God, I will do
so at the appointed time, when the business of the house will be more
pressing. Then I shall relieve my poor little Sister of the burden as
much as I am able, and she will have nothing to do but to kindle in the
hearts of her dear novices the love of their Spouse, and to caress her
poor mother, who is so fond of her. Do not forget the sweetmeats for the
poor nor the dried fruit, as much as you can procure of it. In the month
of September lay in a provision of butter and cheese; Sister Anne
Jacqueline (Coste) will help you in this. I am a little surprised that
you tell me there is only corn enough for the end of this month, for it
ought to have lasted till the end of September. Perhaps you have not
paid for what was due, or you may not have returned what was advanced to
you for the masons. Anyhow you must buy more as soon as it is wanted;
but for these two first months purchase the old corn rather than the
new. After that, awaiting the season for laying in provisions, we shall
see as soon as possible if my son cannot return part of what he has had
from us, until he is able to pay it all back.

See that Sister Marguerite (Milletot) writes to say that we shall keep
her pension here, and tell her to ask out boldly for the ewer and the
gown about which so many promises have been made to her. They need make
no excuse about not being able to send them for it is quite easy to get
things from here to Dijon. You must treat poor Sister Mary Madeleine (de
Mouxy) very gently, and she will, I think, in time, see for herself what
is necessary. I am writing in great haste, for this letter goes by the
Bishop. It is absolutely necessary to build the sacristies, complete the
church, and enclose the little court, for you know we must have more
accommodation. Then we'll stop. As to the continuation of the buildings,
we must wait and see what can be done when what we are now doing is
finished. If we buy the houses, as his Lordship tells me, and have the
Fathers' garden, that will be a good bit of business done.

I salute affectionately my very dear and beloved Sisters. May Jesus be
all things to them, and they all to Jesus. Amen.

My kind remembrances also to my son M. Michel (Favre),[D] to all our
friends, and to the workmen. I send two combs for my daughters to tease
the red wool, and two ells of material to cover the bodice of a dress
for little Françoise, and two of stuff, which is very ugly but most
expensive, for the bodice of a petticoat, for sleeves and neck
kerchiefs, to last her over the summer. Please God, for the future I'll
choose her clothing myself, and not trust it to anyone else.

Goodbye, and a happy Vespers,[E] my dear good Sister. It is nearly noon
and we are only just out from table; for the Archbishop of Lyons, as
usual, came about 10 o'clock,[F] and then came Madame Saint Chamond.
Give me your best prayers, for I am most truly miserable. Nevertheless,
may the great God accomplish His holy will in us! Amen.


[A] St. Francis de Sales.

[B] The Saint here calls the Constitutions by this name.

[C] The Treatise on the Love of God.

[D] The Convent Chaplain at Annecy.

[E] The Octave Day of the Feast of the Visitation.

[F] The Sisters' dinner hour.

IX. _To Sister Péronne Marie de Châtel at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1615.

Your letters delight me, they are altogether after my own heart, that
heart that so loves its dear Péronne. It is true, my child, that in this
life we must always be beginning anew, but if it were not so where
should we be? For this is essential to our humility and to confidence,
the two virtues our good God asks of us. Be brave, train yourself to
courage and to exactitude in the observance. Keep a light heart, and
above all things put sadness far from you. God is wholly ours, and we,
my daughter, have no other wish than to be wholly His. How then can we
be solicitous about anything whatsoever? When you have time give me news
of that heart that is so dear to me and that I know so well, I say, so
well, thanks be to God.

I am quite easy as to dearest Sister Marie Jacqueline, for I never
doubted but that she would be a success, yet to hear your assurance of
it is very consoling. Give her all the help you can so as to lighten as
much as possible the burden of her charge. Look after her health; I
entrust it to you, and on this point she is to go by what you say.

I beseech you, my love, be a good example to others, avoid all useless
conversation, never absent yourself from the community assemblies
without real necessity. Give challenges to spur each other on to virtue.
Let your chief care be to inculcate recollection, practise it yourself
in good earnest, it ought to be preeminently our practice. Incite one
another to it, and to seek Our Lord, and our own perfection in
singleness of heart.

I have received all your letters and the other things you sent by
Chambéry, but they came very late. Another time, my dearest daughter, to
give you comfort we'll talk as you desire, heart to heart, but I am
feeling the cold to-day, and am pressed for time. In a word, humility,
exact observance, holy confidence and joy in God.

Our very dear Father is, he says, entirely yours. All our Sisters salute
you. To conclude, you are, as I told you the other day, my own dear
Péronne, whom I love with all my heart. When M. Michel goes to see you
he will give you plenty of news; he is not, however, going for some
little time yet.

                                              Yours wholly in Jesus.

X. _To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1615.

They have taken me by surprise. Here is M. de Boisy, who tells me that
if I wish to write to you, my daughter, now is the opportunity. He
starts at dawn, and so at dawn I write this letter in all haste. Well,
as to your letters, they always give me pleasure and console me
exceedingly. All praise to the good God who I see leads you and holds
you by His paternal Hand, so that you have nothing to do but to cling
close to it, and leave yourself to Him, walking with all possible
humility, and simplicity, under His holy protection, while you train
your little flock to advance faithfully, for it is in this way that He
wishes you to show your fidelity, and it is for this end that I always
tell you, my dearest, that you should keep yourself, as much as the
performance of necessary duties allow, free and disengaged from
occupations, so that you may be continually in the midst of your Sisters
at the times that they are assembled together, thus will you enlighten
and animate them in their duty by example as well as by precept. I quite
agree with our worthy and excellent Archbishop. He is right, my
daughter, believe me, you must be Mother and Mistress. Nevertheless, it
is well to try the capacity of Sister Marie Aimée,[A] for she is good,
though a little too reserved and somewhat lazy, letting nature dictate,
and yet I hope that she will, notwithstanding, further the progress of
these dear children by good example and by her tongue if she lets it
loose. Moreover, as you will often be unable to be with them yourself,
she can take your place, and thus be a constant relief to you. Your
resolve about Madame Raime is quite to my mind. Deduct the amount of the
damask plums from what you receive and you can ask M. de Medio[B] and M.
Voullart as to how to act. Be at ease about the dearly loved Péronne
Marie. I never thought of what they told you, but do not on that
account delay to train these girls to housework, for most certainly
charity obliges you to give the good daughter a rest after she has put
the house in good order, and others have been trained for this purpose.
Alas! my dearest daughter, I have great compassion for poor Sister ----.
Undoubtedly, her imagination plays a large part in her case, but our
good Archbishop and the confessor ought to help in the curing of her.
Treat as despicable and in no manner condone what she esteems so much in
herself. I will write to her as to the others when I have leisure. You
must take great care of the good Sister ----. Keep her bright, and as
much occupied as possible, see that she eats and sleeps well, for
usually any weakness of the brain lends itself to such temptations of
the imagination, so, dear daughter, show her infinite compassion,
charity, and patience. God and time will reveal to us what it is all

Daylight is breaking, and I have nothing very special to say except,
indeed, that you ought to be very grateful for the blessing God has
conferred upon you in giving you as fathers two such exceptionally great
and worthy prelates, whose remarkable piety pleases God and man.[C] I
cannot tell you what a consolation it is to me to see how God has united
these two souls, and I believe this union will bring Him more glory than
our little judgements are capable of understanding. So with all my
heart I praise God for having given me this consolation which I have so
long prayed for and desired, clearly seeing how much good it would
effect, and the solace of mind it would bring to our worthy Lord
Archbishop, whose goodness merits and needs it. His dear Lordship here
is full of kindness, and in perfect accord with this prelate, and has a
great reverence for him. I will write as soon as possible to these dear
children; meanwhile, give them my affectionate love. May the great Jesus
fill their hearts with sweetness, simplicity, and innocence! My
respectful and affectionate remembrance to my Lord Archbishop. My
regards also to good Father Philip de Saint-Nizier, the chaplain, and
whoever else you think I ought to mention. Do not tell the President[D]
that you do not get letters from me for I never fail to write when there
is an opportunity. Remember me very specially to your two dear
companions, my daughters, and most dear Sisters.

Good-morning, my love. May Jesus be your all. Amen.


[A] Sister Marie Aimée de Blonay had just been made Mistress of Novices,
a charge which she greatly dreaded.

[B] Canon of Lyons.

[C] St. Francis de Sales and Mgr. de Marquemont.

[D] Antoine Favre, Mother Marie Jacqueline's father.

XI. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1615.

... I think you have received both the letters that I have written to
you since our arrival. Now to answer yours, which has been a joy beyond
words to me: so is it in your power, my dearest Sister and friend, to
give me true pleasure. You are indeed happy in serving our Lord and His
holy Mother: give your service, my beloved friend, with boundless joy
and courage. Our very good Father, whom as yet I have hardly seen, wrote
you the other day an excellent and beautiful letter.[A] Ah! how blessed
are they who hide themselves in the sacred breast of the Saviour, and
elsewhere find no delight. But I really must answer your letter. I am
writing during the Sisters' supper, and I have had no time as yet to
converse with any of them. Keep firm to the line you have adopted with
M. de Saint-Nizier, that is all I have to say on that point. I must
answer Père Théodose, but it is you who ought to do this. Yes, I told
Sister ---- that you would give her a little book on perfection, but she
must not let her imagination run away with her, so as to think she
possesses all the good qualities she desires and which she hears
discussed. Keep her gently and cordially humble, and believe me, my
love, she will, please God, do very well.

There are countless things, my dearest Sister, that I long to say about
the true and sincere affection I have for you, and this because I verily
believe that we are not separated, but more united than ever, for our
mutual intercourse by letter brings home to us, it seems to me, all the
more forcibly our affection. O God! may this love be eternal: our life
here is too short to suffice for the enjoyment of so great a good! But
to answer your little questions. God be praised for the zeal of our good
Sisters in holy obedience. Oh! but it is sweet and pleasant news to me,
and for them an inestimable treasure. I beseech these dearest daughters,
whom I truly love, to give all the consolation possible by following
after perfection holily and faithfully. Oh, my God, we have only, my
dearest one, my Sister, to die or to love our good Saviour. Amen.

His Lordship has, through the chaplain, acceded to the desire of Madame
Colin. You have answered N. right well; no thanks are needed in such
matters. If I can I will write to M.; if not, do it yourself, my love,
for these are our affairs. Believe me, I pray much, and will continue to
do so for you, and still more for your dear Father and Mother....


[A] In this letter, having consoled her for the departure of Sister J.
F. de Chantal, Saint Francis addresses these sweet words to her: "We
need never part from one another, we whom the very blood of Our
Lord--that is to say, His love, through the merits of His blood--binds
and unites together. Indeed, as for me, I am in very truth so entirely
yours that in proportion to the distance that these two or three days of
journeying seem to separate us corporally the more strongly and with the
more affection am I united spiritually to you as to my very dear
daughter. You will be the first after our Mother (de Chantal) in my
prayers and my solicitude, a solicitude, however, which is more sweet
through the extreme confidence which I have in the heavenly care of
divine Providence for your soul."--(M. S. Lives of the First Mothers, by
Mère de Chaugy.)

XII. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1615.

First of all it is quite true that I am entirely at your service. Next,
it is from no lack of diligence on my part that you have been kept so
long without news of us, for we have frequently sent to the
trades-people to find out if any were going to Lyons. You must not,
then, think that I am wanting in care or affection for you. I do not
know how that traveller you speak of passed through without my knowing.
Now to answer your letters, though I assure you I have to do so in the
greatest haste. We have sent you our Office books, and the carrier has
delivered everything from you--the beautiful candlesticks and the
crucifixes, for which, above all, we thank you. God will give you all
that is necessary to instruct these girls from Riom. It is well that you
have them, for it is essential that they come either here or to Lyons,
otherwise it would be impossible for us for a good long while to provide
subjects suitable for foundations. Truly the making of Superiors is not
the matter of a day.

The First President of Toulouse has written to his Lordship asking for
Sisters for a foundation, and he has replied that he will see to
subjects being formed for it. This community is becoming very large,
and needs assiduous care. Mademoiselle du Châtelard and Mademoiselle
d'Avise were here last week, and asked with great humility and
earnestness that the votes might be taken for their admittance as
probationers. This has been done, and they are coming at the beginning
of the approaching great feasts. Both souls are altogether to my liking.
Several others are applying for admission....

We must charitably bear with N., and employ both the green wood and the
dry to keep her brothers and sisters away from her, and to induce her to
curtail her correspondence. She is in bondage to these things, and never
will she have courage to break her chains if she is not helped. May God
in His mercy take her by His good hand and lead her out of all
superfluous cares. His grace the Archbishop has acted prudently in at
once settling that her sister is not to be received, to do otherwise
would have been inexpedient. She ought not to put upon us these great
obligations to _Madame la présidente_ Le Blanc[A] who is one of those
women of the world whom I greatly admire. A thousand cordial salutations
to her.

My darling, for the love of God always write quite openly to me about
all your little affairs, and don't take the trouble to copy your
letters. I say this not only for myself but also on the part of our
good Lord, and it will suffice to write only to one or other of us, for
we are as one by the grace of God, and I see that so much writing gives
you headaches. This too will economize your time. You will easily be
excused by everybody, except perhaps by the dear brother de Boisy[B],
for the rest they must write to you and not expect answers unless you
have time and want to recreate yourself. I am undecided whether or no to
write to M. Austrain, but in any case be sure to offer him my respects.
His little daughter[C] is indeed very happy. Three of us have the
special care of her. She is very charming, but M. and Mme. Austrain
ought to inculcate obedience, and tell her that they always hold it in
reverence. I am very fond of her and so are all our Sisters. Assure them
of this, and that I greatly desire to serve them and to give them
satisfaction in regard to her. In reference to this over affection that
you have for me, you are doing quite right. Alas! dearest daughter, I am
not exempt from these feelings. In such things be very generous in the
guard you keep over yourself; hardly ever speak of it, still less think
of it: feelings of this kind should be borne with silently and sweetly,
taking, as it were, no notice of them.

How consoled I should be if M. D. is caught in the net. May the good God
do this mercy. I want you to get news of the temporal affairs of our
late good Sister Marie Renée (Trunel) from the General of the
Feuillants, and to ask his opinion; the first paper which Sister Péronne
Marie (de Châtel) sent was a rough draft; you will have received what we
wrote to you by M. Voullart. For God's sake, darling, do all you can
soon to procure the money that should come to us for Sister F. A., as we
are in great necessity, and nobody wants to pay us. M. Voullart has the
authority for receiving it (illegible lines)....

Adieu, my love, I am all right as to health, but I want to improve
otherwise when I have time to think about it. I intend to take full
advantage of my co-adjutrice. I don't know which to choose unless Sister
N. Sister P. M. [de Châtel] would make an excellent one. Some day please
God I hope to have her, meantime I advise you to make use of her for

Adieu, once more. Let us be His for ever and ever.[D]


[A] See note to Letter XIX., page 49.

[B] The Count de Boisy was brother of St. Francis de Sales.

[C] The Monastery of Lyons was under obligations to M. Austrain, and St.
Jane Frances took his little daughter back with her to Annecy at his
desire. Subsequent letters show that this child did not respond to the
Saint's kindness and had to be sent away.

[D] The Lives of Mother Favre, de Bréchard and de Châtel are given in
the "Lives of the First Mothers of the Visitation," by Mother de Chaugy.
There is a recent life of Mother de Châtel under the title of "Péronne
Marie" (Burns and Oates), in which are introduced slight
character-sketches of Mothers Favre, de Bréchard, de Blonay and de

XIII. _To Sister Péronne Marie de Châtel at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                    _January, 1616._

At last, my dearest daughter, I take up your letter to answer it as far
as I am able. May the good God inspire me to say what is for His glory
and your consolation. All the repugnances of which you speak, all your
feelings, aversions, difficulties, are all to my judgement for your
greater good, and you are bound not to yield to them. You should keep
making resolutions every day to fight and resist them--nevertheless when
you fall, say fifty times a day, never on any account be astonished or
uneasy, but quite gently reproach yourself, and take up again the
practice of the contrary virtue, saying all the time words of love and
confidence to Our Lord, and saying them just as much after you have
fallen into a thousand faults as if you had only fallen into one. Do not
forget all we have said to you on this subject, and practise it for the
love of God, being assured that God will draw His glory and your
perfection out of this infirmity, never have a doubt on this point, and
bear up bravely and sweetly whatever happens. If sometimes you feel
weak, cowardly, with no confidence in God, compel your lips to utter
words the very opposite to your feelings, and say them firmly. My
Saviour, my all, notwithstanding my miseries, and my distrust, I trust
Thee out and out, for Thou art the strength of the weak, the refuge of
the miserable, the wealth of the poor, in a word Thou art my Saviour,
who hast ever loved the sinner. Now these and like words, my dearest
daughter, you can say, and though with neither devotion nor tears, yet
with set purpose. Then pass on to divert your mind in some way, for the
Almighty will not let you escape from His hand, which has so securely
captured you, and do you not see how His sweet goodness comes to your
succour in so striking and profitable a manner?

I beg of you preserve the remembrance of the instructions you have
received in the past, and put them into practice, whenever occasion
offers. When you feel the need of writing to me, write. I will always
answer you promptly, and with the truthfulness of a heart that is wholly
yours. Be very careful to give good example. Fidelity and exactness in
observance is, as you know, necessary for this, and also a well-ordered
exterior, the basis of which depends on the practice of the presence of
God. As far as you can quietly manage it release yourself from household
duties. I have already spoken to Sister[A] about this, and you will, I
think, find her of my opinion, for otherwise those for whom the charges
are intended cannot be fittingly trained. Certainly, my love, I am
altogether satisfied and consoled with your dear little Mother, who is
with you; every one tells me how well she gets on and what you yourself
continue to write about her gives me increasing pleasure, for I know
with what sincerity you speak. I trust in God that she will be one day a
great and worthy servant of His and that she will do good to many. She
ought to steep herself ever more in humility and grow in resignation:
help her according to your little lights, and tell her simply in all
truth, what seems to you for her own good and for that of the house. God
knows how sincerely I love her; I know her heart and how she feels under
obligation to you, while you are conscious that the obligation is on
your side. I am well aware of the help and profit that I receive from my
coadjutrix; such is an inestimable blessing for superiors, who from the
multiplicity of affairs cannot give sufficient attention to minor things
which it is expedient should be remedied. Let me once more beg of you,
my dear little Péronne, to further in every way you can my desire that
our dear Sister's spirits are kept up, and without teasing her have an
eye to her health; tell her frankly what is necessary, and see that she
does it, for she ought to yield to you in this, just as you should obey
her quite simply when she orders what she considers necessary for your
health. You can humbly represent to her how much you feel able to do,
but in such a way that she may have no reason to distrust or be
displeased with you. It is better to exceed in charity than in labour,
and for God's sake never give way to disquietude: do everything you can
to get well, for it is only your nerves. I must conclude, for I am
feeling somewhat indisposed. A hundred thousand loves to all our dearest
sisters; indeed with all my heart I love your little flock. May their
thoughts be ever set on their Spouse, and may they hold intercourse with
Him like pure, sweet, simple, chaste doves. I embrace them all, big and
little, lovingly and tenderly, in spirit, but above all do I embrace my
well-loved Péronne. His Lordship salutes you and loves you tenderly.
Vive Jésus.


[A] Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre.

XIV. _To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                _January 4th, 1616._

Only one word, my poor dear daughter, for there is no time to write as
much as I should wish. Hardly has one been told that there is an
opportunity of sending a letter than they come to fetch it. For the love
of God, my dear friend, do not allow yourself to be so easily carried
away by your affections. Hold fast in God your spirit, your love, and
all your pleasure. Keep your heart strong and generous, and interior
joy will come back to you. We are not separated, my dearest daughter, be
assured of this, and when it is necessary to think and speak of me
accustom yourself to do so with a free and joyous spirit as if I were
present to you. Ah! my love, to know that our good God is everywhere,
and that He is always ready to be to us, Father, Mother, sweet and
gentle Spouse, should indeed make us happy. I am very glad that you have
taken Mme. de Chevrières for a mother;[A] she is a virtuous and useful
friend and I greatly like her: offer her my humble respects. Our poor
dear Sisters' Christmas carols are very nice. I love all these dear
hearts: tell them so, darling, I beg of you....

In your next letter say how you are really feeling, for I cannot say
that I like to hear of your getting thin. My daughter de Thorens has
written to me (illegible lines), speaks of the marriage of M. de Foras
with Françoise. Madame is wrong, I assure you, my dear friend, in
blaming his Lordship[B] for not writing to her. I see very little of
him, and I cannot tell you how long it is since I last spoke with him:
he is overwhelmed with business. However, if I see him I will ask him
to write to her, and I shall do so myself, if possible.

Well, most certainly I pity the good Archbishop of Lyons with his rules:
the poor man is worrying himself to death over them. Why on earth does
he not fish where he knows there is plenty of water. Do not send the
regulations that he has made for us without also sending the rules, and
get to know as tactfully as you can what he is planning and the cause of
this delay.

As to exterior mortifications, they are performed here in the right
spirit and with devotion. You know them: Some prostrate across the
doorway with face to the ground, others hold out their arms in the form
of a cross, others again wear a cord round their neck, and ask pardon,
or mention and deplore their imperfections out loud, ask for an alms and
the like. However, I permit them but rarely, because frequency lessens
their power, and when done with devotion they profit and mortify those
who perform them, and edify the others. You can of course allow them,
but only at the times set down, unless the Sisters ask your permission,
and let this come from themselves (illegible lines).

They have come to fetch the letters. Good-day, dearest daughter. Always
yours. Be humble in all things, and practice mortification of spirit.
Vive Jésus.


[A] It was a common custom at this epoch to contract spiritual alliances
as a mark of reverence, gratitude, and affection. It is of such an
alliance that Saint Jane Frances here approves. Madame de Chevrières was
a pious and devoted friend of the monastery at Lyons.

[B] St. Francis de Sales.

XV. _To Sisters Péronne Marie de Châtel and Marie Aimée de Blonay._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1616.

I will begin by answering your last letter, and then go back as far as I
am able to the preceding one, saying, please God, what He wishes me to
say to you.

First, then, my dear daughter, I'll tell you what Our Lord wants of you
and of us all, a humble and tranquil submission to His most holy will in
whatsoever happens, for everything is, without question, ordained by
divine Providence for His glory, and for our gain; henceforth to be
indifferent to health or sickness, consolation or desolation, the
enjoyment or privation of what we most cherish, should be our aim. May
our hearts have but one desire, that His holy will be accomplished in us
and in regard to us. Let us not philosophize on things that happen to
ourselves or to others, but, as I have already said, remaining sweetly
humble, and tranquil, in the condition in which God has placed us. In
pain patient, in sorrow enduring, in action active, without stopping to
think whether we commit faults in this way or that, for such reflections
are nothing but self-love.

Instead of all that, look at God, and take faithfully as it presents
itself every opportunity of practising suitable virtues. When you fail
through cowardice or infidelity be not disturbed, make no reflections,
humble yourself in meekness and confusion before God, and then lose no
time in rising up again by an act of courage and holy confidence.

Now, my daughter (Péronne Marie), and my little one (Marie Aimée), do
thus; this letter is for you both in common, for I know that your hearts
hide nothing from one another. In future, as I have so little leisure, I
will always write to you together, unless you tell me that, for some
particular reason, you wish me to answer you individually, in which case
I will willingly do so, for I am at your disposal. Believe me, I love
you with all my heart, and I have to bear my fair share in the
mortification of your absence, though indeed you are more than ever
present to me in spirit; but the good God has arranged it so, and all is
sweet in His holy will.

You, my Péronne, and the little Sister, when you happen to be ill,
receive relief willingly and graciously. And mind, in whatever form it
comes, whether it be to rise, to go to bed, to eat, obey simply, and
without making difficulties. My dear Péronne, walk manfully in your old
way, both as to the interior, and the exterior. When you are asked what
point of prayer you take, and the like, answer boldly as to what you
have done or thought formerly in this way: "I have had such thoughts in
prayer or done such things while walking about, or when in bed"; but do
not say: "To-day, or at such an hour, I have done such a thing." It is
not necessary to be so explicit, but simply say, "I have done or seen
such a thing," and have no scruple in calling all your good aspirations
and thoughts prayer, for they are prayer, and so, for the matter of
that, are all our actions when done to please God. It is enough to
salute your good Angel morning and evening. Attention to the presence of
God and of Our Lady includes all, for the blessed Spirits are engulphed
in the abyss of the Divinity, and it is more perfect to walk simply.
When a novice says to you, "What are you thinking of?" answer frankly,
"I am thinking of God," without saying (if it is not so), I was thinking
of the Passion, and the like, for no doubt to mention a particular
subject (if we were not thinking of it) would be an untruth. Say simply,
"I was thinking of Our Lord," and you might, for example, add, "My God,
how happy we should be if we could always have the Holy Passion or the
Nativity before our eyes." This gives edification enough. I see nothing
else to say.

Oh! but yes; just a word for my Little One. I beg of you, my dearest
Sister, not to trouble about what you feel or do not feel--this I say
once for all. Serve Our Lord as it pleases Him, and while He keeps you
in the desert serve Him there with good courage. He made His dear
Israelites spend forty years there, accomplishing a journey that they
could have made in forty days. Take courage then, and be satisfied with
saying, and being able to say, though without relish, "I wish to live
wholly for God and never to offend Him;" and when you stumble, as is
sure to happen (be it a hundred times a day), rise up again by an act of
confidence. Do likewise towards your neighbour, be content with having
the desire to love him, or desiring to desire it, and to procure for him
all possible good, and, opportunity given, minister gently to him.

In short take bravely the road in which God leads you--it is a safe one,
although you may not have all the light and satisfaction you would like;
but it is quite time to abandon to Our Lord all these plans and desires,
and to walk blindly, as divine Providence wills, believing that it will
lead you aright. Now, adieu. Our good M. Michel (Favre) will tell you
all the news. Needless to say, I recommend him to you, for I am
extremely fond of him. He is our dear brother and child: entirely
devoted to us. Thousands of cordial messages to those most dear
daughters of my heart, and special messages to whom you know, and to
all, for indeed I most truly love them all.

Adieu, my beloved daughters.

XVI. _To Mother M. J. Favre._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1616.

Your letter deeply touches me. May God give us genuine humility,
sweetness, and submission, for with these virtues there is truth, but
without them usually deception and no sure dependence. No need to
consult about this good woman, she must be put out, for a thousand
reasons. Unless God give you light to the contrary, beware of acting on
any human reasons put forward by her relations. You must drink the
chalice, my daughter, and bear with contempt for the sake of exact
observance. But act, I pray you, in this matter with gentleness and
consideration, saying nothing that might cause any trouble to this poor

As to Mlle. N., we only have knowledge of her in so far as to be able to
say that we fear her becoming very dejected from her melancholy and
unstable temperament. However, you will have to receive her for a first
trial and to tell her frankly that she will be obliged to undergo at
least four months' probation in the house before she receives the habit.
As to the condition she wishes to lay down of being always with you
after her profession, it is not to be heard of. She must not claim to
make arrangements on becoming a Religious, as if she was purchasing a
farm-house; therefore, should there be no conditions in her contract,
and no reserves, the only thing she can reserve to herself is the
resolution never to do her own will, and to live peaceably and humbly in
the Congregation. I beg of you, my true daughter, maintain a gentle and
a humble, a generous and a joyous heart in the midst of the bustle of
affairs, for this God requires of you.

You are right in thinking our Sisters de Châtel and de Blonay are two
pearls of virtue. They have not a little obliged me in so candidly
opening their hearts to you. I never doubted but that they would do so,
and I am sure you will always receive consolation and support from them.
Gently encourage the dear _Cadette_[B] to be more expansive and
open-hearted with the sisters. She can do it if she look humbly unto God
and overcome herself. I beg of her to teach her novices to see the
advantage of correction, and to love it. They ought to aspire to great
purity of life and become familiar in their communications with their
divine Spouse. I shall not write to them now; it suffices that we two,
whom God has so intimately united, confer with one another. God bless
you, my child, I am very glad to know the state of your heart. Keep it
one with God in fidelity to the Rule and a stranger to all unprofitable
things; for, my true daughter, God has appointed you for my succour and
to carry with me the burden which He Himself has laid upon me. Do not
say that you are inconsolable on account of our separation. I assure you
that I write much more to you than I tell our sisters here. We do not
see one another it is true, but that is all, and I think a little
corporal absence renders you more present to the mind than if you were
present. In everything else we never make any difference between you and
our Sisters here, if it be not that you are more loved and more
carefully instructed. Now pity yourself no more, since Jesus Christ is
the privileged bond that unites us.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] Elsewhere St. Jane Frances thus sums up for her daughters the views
expressed to her on religious life by their Founder, St. Francis de
Sales. "In truth, there are few monasteries which do not possess some
one who gives a great example of virtue, but the majority are weak and
neither great nor elevated in character. This evil is brought about by
persons becoming religious who are not yet really good Christians. Such
know indeed their Founder and their constitutions, but they have little
knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospels. They aspire to become perfect
in a day, while yet they are unaware of their own miseries and need of
justification. They expect to be cured without thoroughly knowing their
disease or the physician. They begin with the roof instead of with the
foundations, and are eager to offer to the divine Master what He has
only recommended as a counsel, without taking the trouble to give Him
what He exacts as a debt. From hence come so many dissensions,
murmurings, and complaints about trivial things, so much imprudence, so
many indiscretions, suspicions, rash judgements, attachments to one's
own inclinations and way of thinking, and to trifles; such impatience of
contempt, so little fervour in prayer, so little reverence for the holy
mysteries, so little fruit from confession and frequent communion, such
a poor conception and idea of the life to come, so little gratitude to
Jesus Christ, so little solidity and dignity in the practices of
devotion. The remedy for all these evils is to employ the time of
noviceship in learning truly to know the adorable Master; His precepts,
maxims and counsels, by a thorough explanation of His gospel; truly to
understand the nobility of man, whom God only can render happy; his fall
and his misery, which the Incarnation and the death of a God could alone
remedy: the corruption of his heart, of which self-love is master; the
inability in himself to do any good without the grace of Jesus Christ:
the never-ending danger from that concupiscence which, though conquered,
is always within him; the necessity of continual prayer, of solitude, of
penance, in order to keep the senses subject to the spirit; truly to
understand how terrible God is in His judgements, how heinous are the
sins committed after baptism, how differently we shall look upon things
after death, and what a heavy responsibility for us will be the life and
death of the Redeemer: truly to learn the folly of despising these
truths and the sanctity which the grace of the law of this Jesus exacts
from us, He who is our Saviour and our Model."

[B] A name given by St. Francis to Mother Marie Aimée de Blonay.

XVII. _To Madame de Gouffier._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _17th July, 1616._

I can only send you this little note, my dearest daughter, but his
Lordship is answering your letters. Our Sisters (Favre and de Châtel)
are to arrive this evening, so you can imagine how busy we are getting
ready for them. God be blessed for all you tell me, and may the work you
have undertaken be to you a precious crown for the greater honour of God
and for our consolation.

Certainly, very dear daughter, if the glory of God and your reputation
were not so much involved in this transaction we should never risk
sending our sisters. Our reasons would be unalterable in regard to
anyone save you yourself. Sister Jeanne Charlotte will tell you what
they are. The experience of Lyons has taught us to walk circumspectly.
But we have not the heart to disappoint this daughter who is so much one
of ourselves. May God be your portion and ours for all eternity! It is
impossible for me to leave this house at present, so I cannot accompany
the Sisters whom we are sending to Lyons. They will arrive, please God,
on the 29th of this month, and they can start with you on the 5th or 6th
of August, but not before. We shall write again by them. May God love
us, and our love be all for Jesus eternally.

Adieu, my daughter. I embrace you with all my soul which is wholly
yours. But let us not engage in any more combats until we are fully
armed! I prefer to have few monasteries and those well established than
many badly provided.[A]


[A] Madame de Gouffier, a religious of the Order of the Holy Ghost, was
attracted to greater devotion by reading the "Introduction to a Devout
Life," and made a long journey to confer with its author, St. Francis de
Sales. The Sister annalist of the Order tells us that Madame de
Gouffier, on arriving, "Devoutly ferreted out all she could about the
rising Congregation to see if it might not be the promised land designed
by God for her, in which she hoped to find rivers flowing with milk and
honey. Full of admiration for the new Institute, Madame de Gouffier
wished to become a member, but insurmountable impediments opposed her
design, and she could only obtain permission to wear the religious habit
within the enclosure, where she was known under the name of Sister Marie
Elizabeth. With tireless energy the new benefactress gave a helping hand
to the foundations of Lyons, Moulins, and Paris, in all of which houses
she successively sojourned, ever seeking to make herself useful to the
Sisters, whose virtue was indisputably made manifest by the thorns
without number with which, all unwittingly, she strewed their paths.
Towards the end of 1621 Madame de Gouffier quitted her exile here below
for the true _Promised Land_."

XVIII. _To Mother Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       _June, 1616._

You and all the dear Sisters to whom I am in debt must needs be
perpetually pardoning me. Only at the last moment are we told of an
opportunity to send letters, and having no time to get mine ready
beforehand I am constrained to write in a breathless fashion. They have
just come to say that Sire Pierre sets out to-morrow. Patience in all
things! However, as I want to write to our sisters, and very fully to
you, and very particularly to my son M. Michel, those letters I will
send by the chaplain. You now know for certain what are our good Lord's
intentions regarding the Religious question: I mean the conversion of
our Congregation into a Religious Order, with the conditions laid down
for us, which are all excellent, and about which our resolution is
unalterable. This step has been before the Archbishop of Lyons for a
long time, and he did not wish it to be known. But what does it matter
to us, I pray you, whether our vows are solemn, or made as they are in
public, or whether we are to be called a _Religious Order_ or a
_Congregation_? Such things do not signify at all. We have always shown
that we are willing for it on condition that nothing whatever is changed
as to the end of our Institute or the means of attaining that end, to
which, thanks be to God, we have, up to this, adhered for His glory and
the salvation of our neighbour. We do not ask or seek to be brought
forward, and only wish to be left as we are, content to remain in our
littleness, and infinitely preferring it if the glory of God does not
demand otherwise.

Now, dearest daughter, your mind will be clear on this subject, and you
can satisfy those who make inquiries. I greatly desire that our good
Father Rector, a man of great virtue and capability, should know all,
and give his opinion on the whole matter to the Bishop, who is anxious
to have it. His last letter to me gives the impression that he thinks
quite the reverse of the above. For the rest, dearest daughter, if you
have an opportunity get the Archbishop to write and tell his Lordship
how he means to act in regard to the Bishop's last letter, for this is
of importance to the affair in Rome; but do not let him see any
eagerness on your part or that you have been asked to do this. Enough on
this subject.

What a grace has not the good God done us these six years in having
called us to true perfection by a manner of life so fitting to our sex.
Ever blessed be this divine Saviour. I tried to-day to renew my heart
fervently so as henceforth to live in accordance with God's holy will.
My great longing for you, who are so dear to me, is that you may bravely
cast aside all that is not of God, and having but one heart, that you
may keep it exclusively for the one Saviour, who has given His dear life
to win our love and our salvation....

Let us have a great love for our Sisters and bear gently and sweetly
with their little miseries and weaknesses, without which we shall never
be, and thus make good use of the first-fruits of the spirit which God
has diffused on us here, and on you.

What joy took possession of my heart yesterday, dearest daughter, when I
caught a glimpse of a chance of seeing you again, and what noise and
excitement at recreation when I gave the news of your coming! Truly it
is delightful to see how they all love you. Don't you think that it is
quite necessary for me to keep my pleasure to myself in case you do not
come, for they would all be so disappointed? Alas! my poor Péronne, if
she is not cured she must come back to Annecy, for she will be useless
to you and the change of air may be good for her. God knows how welcome
she will be, but I fear you will miss her for your little ménage:
however, God will provide.

I hope you will not give the habit to the good N. until she has
completed her six months. If I have time I will write her a little note;
if I cannot, her humility will bear with me, and her charity will be
indulgent to me. I beg of her to ask God to grant me the grace of being
entirely His.

A thousand salutations, daughter darling, to you and all your dear flock
(a little special word to our two).[A] Remembrance also to the Rev.
Father Rector, to my dear nephew, and to whom else you please. Aye,
truly sister de Gouffier may well be admired! I shall write to her by
the chaplain when he returns. She is only losing her time, and I am
astonished that she has not written to me. Yes, indeed, she is losing
her time. Adieu, my darling, _this holy day of the Feast of St. Claude_.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] Srs. Péronne Marie de Châtel and Marie Aimée de Blonay.

XIX. _To Sister Marie Aimée de Blonay, Mistress of Novices at Lyons._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1616.

Who can doubt, little one, but that a thousand imperfections are mingled
with all our actions. We must humble ourselves and own to it, but never
be surprised nor worry about it. Neither is it well to play with the
thought, but having made an interior act of holy humility, turn from it
at once and pay no further attention to your feelings. Now let me hear
no more about them, but use them all as a means of humbling yourself and
of abasing yourself before God. Behave yourself in His presence as being
truly nothing, and if you do, these feelings about which you talk will
not do you any harm though they will make you suffer. Indeed, as much
may be said of this fault of over-sensitiveness. Pray what does it
matter whether you are dense and stolid or over-sensitive? Any one can
see that all this is simply self-love seeking its satisfaction. For the
love of God let me hear no more of it: love your own insignificance and
the most holy will of God which has allotted it to you, then whether you
are liked or disliked, reserved or ready-tongued, it should be one and
the same thing to you. Do not pose as an ignorant person, but try to
speak to each one as being in the presence of God and in the way He
inspires you. If you are content with what you have said your self-love
will be satisfied, if not content, then you have an opportunity of
practising holy humility. In a word aim at indifference and cut short
absolutely this introspection and all these reflections you make on
yourself. This I have told you over and over again.

I can well believe that you are at a loss how to answer these young
persons who want to know, forsooth, the difference between contemplation
and meditation. How can it be, Sister (The Superior) puts up with them,
or that you do in her absence? Sweet Jesus, what has become of humility?
Stop it all, and give them books and conferences treating of the
virtues, and tell them that they must set about practising them. Later
on they can talk about high things--for by the exercise of true and
solid virtue light comes from Him who is the Master of the humble, and
whose delight it is to be with souls that are simple and innocent. At
the end of all, when they have become Angels, they may talk as the
Angels do. As to prayer, be at peace and do not attempt anything beyond
keeping yourself tranquilly near Our Lord. This too I have often told
you. In a word you are not to move any more than a statue can do. Your
one wish has to be to give pleasure to God; now if He in His goodness
shows you what you have to do, is it right for you to turn from this to
do something else because this, His will, has no interest for you? You
must take care not to fall into this fault, but be simple; don't think
much about yourself and just do the best you can.

You have thoroughly satisfied your self-love, in writing me this paper.
However, I will not return it to you, although I think that were I to do
so it would be a mortification to you. Live wholly with all simplicity
in God. I have a great affection for Sister Barbe Marie.[B] Take care of
her, teach her to restrain her over anxiety, which makes her so eager
for her own advancement and for that of everybody else.


[A] We are told in the "History of the Foundation of Annecy" that Sister
Marie Aimée de Blonay fulfilled her duties as Mistress of Novices with
such submission and reverence as entirely to justify the beautiful name
of "The Living Rule," by which she is known throughout the Order; for
her actions and her teaching were a faithful carrying out of what she
had learned from its two holy Founders. She often inculcated the
following doctrine: "Just as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is, and always
must be, the universal foundation of our obedience and of our belief,
even though there were a million new worlds, so should the particular
maxims of the Visitation of Annecy be common to all houses of the
Institute, even though it should increase to millions upon millions of
monasteries." It gave St. Francis such pleasure to hear this ingenious
comparison of the Rule to the Gospel that he ordered the following to be
inserted in the acts and conditions of establishment for every new
foundation: "That the Sisters undertake to live according to the Rules,
Constitutions, and customs of the Monastery of Annecy." And in answer to
a letter about this time from his dear "Cadette," he says: "My daughter,
make use of this light all your life. Tell what you have seen, teach
what you have heard at Annecy. This root is indeed little,
insignificant, and hidden, but the branch that separates from it is fit
for nothing but to be cut down and cast into the fire."

The life of Mother Marie Aimée de Blonay was written by Charles Auguste
de Sales, nephew and one of the successors of St. Francis de Sales in
the See of Geneva.

[B] Madame la Présidente Le Blanc, who was converted from a life of
worldliness by St. Francis de Sales, and became a great benefactress to
the new Institute. When at Lyons she lived in the Convent like a
religious, and wished to be called Sister Barbe Marie.

XX. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                    _January, 1617._

Truly, my dearest little one, you give me extreme pleasure by writing so
fully and so simply. Always do so. I have shown your letter to his
Lordship, who is very fond of you. God will be with you and all will go
well. Never doubt but that divine Providence will guide and support you
in all things, if you give yourself wholly into Its hands. Employ such
little talents as you possess faithfully, and they will increase. For
the rest what a pity it is that we allow ourselves to be upset about
what we are and how we perform our duties. Let us set about them with
simplicity, looking unto God, trusting to His goodness, then all will be
accomplished, all will be sanctified.

How consoling it is to hear of your courageous postulants! Salute all of
them affectionately for me, but to your last novice I pray you to offer
my heart, which I offer her to serve her and to love her perfectly in
Our Lord. What you tell me in your letter of her fidelity to observance
already gives me great consolation in her regard.

Oh, Saviour of my soul! how blessed it will be for her if she persevere!
I exhort all our dear novices to constancy, and I beg of them to take my
word for it, that their peace will be perfect if they hold fast without
swerving to the observance. May they forget themselves and all things
else in order to achieve thoroughly this one thing, which is of so much
importance. If they aim at it always faithfully and humbly, it will
bring them inestimable happiness.

Daylight is failing me, my daughter.

                                              Your very affectionate

XXI. _To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                 _10th April, 1617._

I am sending you back our good Sister (Madame Colin). I see nothing in
her that merits rejection. Her manner is a little dry, but that is
natural to her, and I think she will improve, for she is most anxious to
be gracious. She certainly seems to me to have, in the service of God, a
well-directed heart, and a well-disposed mind. She will give you all our
news and tell you about his Lordship, who, I feel sure, is altogether
overworked. She has seen how he is overwhelmed with business. Grenoble
was the last straw, on account of the endless letters it has entailed;
they are too much for him. If only those ladies would have a little more
consideration and confine their correspondence with him to what is
useful, or to their spiritual needs! I am told that some of them will be
visiting you. For God's sake see if through them you cannot discretely
manage to curtail unnecessary appeals to him. You know how kind he is
and how he never fails to send them a reply, although we are told that
if he does not greatly retrench his correspondence it will have a very
injurious effect on his health, and will shorten his days--days which
are wholly at the service of God and his neighbour. This is a matter
which it seems to me ought to concern everybody: so I am writing to
Dijon, Chambéry, St. Catherine, and everywhere I can think of, to ask
them to spare him as much as possible and only to write in cases of
absolute necessity, or at least utility; for in such cases it cannot be

No doubt you perceive that I am a little disturbed, and indeed I am; for
this morning I heard several things about him which have greatly upset
me, and you know how valuable his life is to us--more it could not be.
He will return next year to Grenoble. A great many people, and I believe
half the diocese, regret it, especially M. de Boisy: but I do not, for
it cannot be much prejudice to the bishopric, and is sure to be for
God's glory, and he will, please God, reap a double harvest in this
second visit. He greatly praises the goodness and piety of the people of
Grenoble and particularly of the ladies. Poor Sister Barbe Marie arrived
too late, but she made up for lost time and his Lordship has completely
won her.

This woman has an excellent heart. She it is, I am told, who ought to
introduce the ladies to us. Encourage her as much as possible to
establish the Visitation at Grenoble. It is really very wonderful how on
all sides they are asking for us, and we have no desire to settle
ourselves anywhere, except at Grenoble. Everything looks encouraging in
that direction. The ladies there are enthusiastic to have a foundation.
Recommend the affair to Our Lord, for it seems to me that it will be for
His glory. Our dear Sister (Barbe Marie) will tell you everything. She
has written to me three times since the return of his Lordship and I
once to her. This is only fair, for she is not as busy as I am. She is
quite devoted to you. Get a thurible made out of that beautiful cup; we
often need one and have to inconvenience our neighbours by borrowing
from them. Sell our watch, my child, to help to pay for the making of
it. You will have to do this for we are short of money. Good Madame
Colin insists on our keeping her watch, but I shall not do so on any
account unless she consents to take the value of it. It keeps good time
and we have much need of such a one.

My poor dear Sister, I dearly love you. Live solely for God by giving
yourself up entirely to His holy will and letting it act. Indeed, I long
to do likewise and I pray God to let me die if I do not love Him
henceforth with all my strength. Such is the desire of the miserable
little heart of your poor Mother who has the toothache, so she must stop
writing as soon as she has made up her mind what answer to give
Monseigneur of Bourges. Our good Bishop will come for it this evening.
We seldom, I assure you, see him now. But we do not mind so long as he
can get through all his work. Would to God that I could relieve him of

Now this is the answer to the Archbishop of Bourges. Write to the
grand-nephew as from yourself and say that if the matter is urgent we
shall find great difficulty in providing Sisters, not having any yet
sufficiently trained. I believe that Monseigneur intends first sending
Cardinal Bellarmine's letter to the Father Rector, and afterwards to his
Grace of Lyons....

I can understand poor N.'s temptation. Alas! from what I hear the poor
Sister seems quite to have gone astray. God grant she may get into the
right way again. In conclusion, dear daughter, I hope you will not take
too much to heart what I have said about his Lordship's correspondence,
I acknowledge to have written forcibly because it is doing him so much
harm. Yesterday I let him know that I was going to write all round in
the hope of curtailing it, and he told me that I must not do so, for he
could manage very well. You understand, dearest daughter, I am not
addressing myself to you, nor to any of our Sisters, for I don't wish to
stop them from writing to him when they require his advice. Oh, indeed I
do not! not them, nor any one. I only mean that discretion should be
used in this matter.

Adieu, my most dear daughter. I embrace you lovingly in spirit and am
wholly yours in our sweet Saviour. Amen.

XXII. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1617.

I have three quarters of an hour free, my dearest daughter, and seize
the opportunity to write to you. You have indeed given me very special
pleasure by speaking a little of your beloved self and of your dear
daughters. God be praised for all you tell me of both the one and the
other. Oh! my love, if you but persevere in serving our great and gentle
Redeemer with the highest part of your soul, indifferent as you say to
all that presents itself, true happiness will be yours. Souls who act
thus are royal souls. May the divine Majesty give you the grace of
faithful perseverance.

You have done well to discontinue your retreat. I assure you I never
undertake mine in the very hot weather on account of the great
drowsiness which it causes. Well, if God wishes us to walk like one who
is blind and groping in the dark, what does it matter? We know that He
is with us.

I am surprised at what you tell me about Paris and Chalons,[A] we have
heard nothing of it from any one else. It would be a great boon to us
not to separate for a year: but the Holy will of God comes before all
things, and grace urges us to the acceptance of it. If they send me, it
will do me good to see you again.

I do not quite know what to say of Sister ----[B]; tell me about her a
little more in detail and of the effects on her of what she feels.

Consult the Rev. Father Rector and get her to speak to him herself. She
should certainly use every endeavour to hide what you tell me of, and
should never abandon herself to it; but if there is humility and simple
obedience we need have no anxiety. You should insist emphatically upon
simplicity, truth, and straightforwardness in all her actions, above all
when she has these consolations. But in a word, if she possesses virtue
you need fear nothing, even though they may come from the evil spirit.
Nature or the imagination would seem to me more dangerous. Speak of
this, I beg of you, in her presence to the Father Rector.

I assure you I am consoled to hear about little Orlandin. But the other
little one, Raton, how is she going on? My daughter, you do singularly
well not to keep those girls that are unsuitable. Try to win over their
friends so that they may be satisfied with our own choice of subjects,
even though those we choose may not have much dowry. My God! how
important it is to have good subjects! I shall be sorry if Sister N.
goes, for I think that in time she may make a good novice mistress and
so relieve that daughter[C] whose mind is so wearied by the charge. The
continuance of this weariness of hers gives me pain. Oh! my daughter,
how true it is that we must be more than women to serve God above all
natural humours and inclinations. Yet what happiness so to subdue nature
that grace reigns in its stead! May it please the good God to assist us,
for we can do nothing without His succour.

I have just written a line to M. Austrain, who begs of us to keep his
daughter at least till September. We will willingly do so for his sake,
but I own to you, daughter, that she is no gain to us.[D]

Still no news from Rome. I think His grace the Archbishop[E] would be
glad to help us should this business be delayed. Beg of him, I beseech
you, to push on the matter and above all by using the privileges which
the Father Procurator says that he has obtained for us. It is really
impossible to submit to anything else. I think, daughter, that you will
do well to write him a humble, dignified, earnest request on the
subject, for I fear the Father Procurator may be a little slow in
following it up: but write as from yourself. My child, I must conclude.
May God be all to you. Amen.

May His goodness be blessed. Believe me to be always devoted to you and
Sister Barbe Marie and to all your daughters.... My child, I write in
such haste that I forget half of what I want to say. Yes, indeed, most
willingly will we make a chalice veil for you, but not until the very
hot weather is over, for one cannot work neatly while it lasts. I do not
know if we have the silks: Sister Péronne Marie says we have not, but
she will write to you about it.


[A] Projected foundations in these towns.

[B] A Sister at Lyons who enjoyed great spiritual consolations. Her name
is not given.

[C] Sister Marie Aimée de Blonay.

[D] In another letter to Mother Favre, dated July 3rd, 1617, Saint Jane
Frances writes: "The little Christine is very much frightened at the
prospect of returning to her father (M. Austrain), for she knows that he
does not want her, and she dislikes still more the thought of going to
St. Ursula. A lady came here from Neuville some time ago, and ever since
the little Austrain has desired to be sent there. She is now imploring
her father to let her go to that town. Help us, I beg of you, to get rid
of her quietly and with courage."

[E] Mgr. de Marquemont.

XXIII. _To Mother Jeanne Charlotte de Bréchard, Superior at Moulins. On
the death of the Saint's daughter, Madame de Thorens._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _September, 1617._

Ah, Lord Jesus, grant that we may love Thee perfectly and Thee alone.
His divine Goodness has truly pierced the depths of my heart, and I am
overwhelmed with sorrow at the death of my daughter de Thorens. Yet what
can I do but lovingly kiss the dear hand that has given this terrible
blow? May it be blessed for ever! Indeed, this daughter was as lovable
and as sensible as could be found at her age. I admired her great virtue
and was consoled to see her firm resolve to dedicate herself entirely to
God. O good Jesus, I did not deserve to have such a companion, and
perhaps it was not good for us to have in this life such enjoyment and
such contentment as she and I had in one another's society. So she is
happy in the sovereign good which I have always desired for her, and God
has surrounded my affliction with so many mercies and favours that
trying to forget myself in my righteous sorrow I bless and thank Him for
a grace which I dearly prize.[B]


[A] Marie Aimée de Chantal was born in 1593; married, in 1609, Bernard
de Sales, Baron de Thorens: died in 1617. In September of this year the
young widow gave birth to a daughter at the Visitation Monastery,
Annecy, where she happened to be staying, and was unexpectedly taken
ill. The infant only lived to receive baptism, and Marie Aimée died two
days later, having made her profession in the Order on her deathbed. St.
Francis de Sales, who received her vows, said he had never seen so holy
a death.

[B] The rest of this letter has been cut off.

XXIV. _To M. de Neuchèze, the Saint's nephew._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                               _November 6th, 1617._

I feel sure, my dearest nephew, that, alas! you must already know of the
death of my dear one.[A] Five days after her decease we announced the
news to Mgr. of Bourges,[B] but I fear the letters may have been lost.
It has truly, my child, been a great grief to me to be deprived of the
presence of this dear, amiable daughter, but with all my heart I adore
and embrace the divine will which has sent me this sorrow. There is much
to console me in her happy and holy death, while I am almost in despair
at the thought of the state of soul of your cousin.[C] So miserable am I
about it that I do not know which way to turn, if not to the Providence
of God, there to bury my longings, confiding to His hands not only the
honour but even the salvation of this already half lost child. Oh! the
incomparable anguish of this affliction! No other grief, my dearest
nephew, can come near to it. If it were not that I am tied down here by
a violent ague I would have already set out to be with him. I am asking
him to come to me: if he does not, I beseech Mgr. of Bourges to find
some pretext for visiting him, and for remaining with him till he comes
to Nantua. Alas! he must be helped. I implore of you to do all you can
in the matter. I can say no more. I am overwhelmed with sorrow, and my
tears blind me. Obtain for him the prayers of all those good souls who
walk steadily in the fear of God. My salutations to all the household.
My dearest nephew, may His goodness grant you all blessings.

                     Believe me always your humble aunt and servant,
                            Sister J. F. Frémyot of the Visitation.


[A] The Saint's daughter, Madame de Thorens.

[B] Archbishop of Bourges, brother of St. Jane Frances. M. de Neuchèze
was Vicar-General and Chancellor of his Diocese.

[C] The Saint's son, Celse Benigne.

XXV. _To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                              _25th November, 1617._

This severe mortification which the good N. has given you is, my dearest
daughter, the fruit of the holy cross. Ah! may God grant us the grace to
profit by every mortification that He sends us. You are indeed blessed;
for see how the divine Saviour lays on you burden upon burden. May His
goodness give you His holy strength. He will do so, daughter, for with
your whole soul you have given yourself into the arms of divine
Providence, and you have no other arms to bear you up and no other
breast on which to repose in love save His. Abide there as a gentle dove
in all simplicity and tranquility, not making account of your
afflictions but looking only at the _Heart_ of Him who has sent them to

Here we have truly shed many tears and prayed much for our dear one who
is taken from us.[A] I have, however, much consolation; for could there
have come a greater happiness to this pure and innocent soul than to
meet her Saviour? Rejoice in her repose, my dearest daughter.

In order not to lose this opportunity of writing to you I am doing so
without having given myself time to look over your letters again.
Believe me, daughter, that if we are faithful to our vocation, and if in
our little efforts we seek only the pure glory of God, His majesty will
raise us up.

His Lordship wishes us to make another attempt before sending to Rome M.
de Sainte-Catherine, who will be an admirable agent. God will help us,
daughter, but we must keep lowly and patient and let ourselves be
trampled under foot. His Lordship hopes that this new petition,
supported by our Rules and the testimonials, will settle the matter. If
the Archbishop thinks well to write a new letter of recommendation, from
himself, to this gentleman who is acting for him, it is quite as it
should be, so long as this gentleman acts in unison with the Father
Procurator of the Barnabites. But to ask him to send these attestations
to the house of Lyons would, I think, be loss of time, as they have
already been sent here. The Prince, on his side, has heard that the
matter is being taken up warmly. Ah! well, we have done what we can, and
the success of it we must leave to the Providence of God and ask Him to
guide and fashion this work according to His holy will. I hope we shall
have some news in a few weeks.

His Lordship left us yesterday, and he asked me to send you his
apologies for not having written to you, but he will write from
Grenoble. He is absolutely overwhelmed with business. We spoke of our
vow of obedience, and he believes it to be pleasing to God. He asked me
how you bore that sharp mortification; but alas! I could not tell him.

Yes, my dear daughter, we read the Catechism to the Sisters four times a
week,[B] and if any one wants to know over and above what is in the book
I check her, saying that she and I must submit our understandings to
what we read without questioning beyond, and this I find does much
good, for such as we are very ignorant.

Thank you a thousand times for the beautiful wax candles. They are most
acceptable, but one lasts for a whole year. We have never seen the
blessed grains of incense.

Please forward the packet from Dôle at once, and securely. There is one
from his Lordship from Paris. My darling, I am wholly yours and salute
you all.

This St. Catherine's Day.


[A] Madame de Thorens, the Saint's daughter.

[B] St. Jane Frances' insistence on the simple Catechism instructions
was peculiarly applicable to the time in which she lived, for the
Jansenist heresy, added to the errors of Protestantism, gave rise to a
subtle and questioning attitude of mind, and women, misled by their
masters in error, set themselves up as Doctors in the new heretical
schools of learning.

XXVI. _To Madame de la Fléchère._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1617.

Oh! may our most good and sweet Saviour be the strength and life of your
soul, which is dear to me in very truth beyond all others, with, as you
know, one exception, which does not bear comparison. Ah! my Sister, let
us by faithful obedience press forward, enlarging our love for this all
lovable Saviour. No, we have it not in our power to render Him a
service, we are of too small account for that, but in the name of His
Goodness let us do all we can to please Him, depending on Him, and on
His Providence, so that it may be our sole support. I have no time to
write, but I must send you this line to content my own heart and to
salute yours. Adieu, and good morning, my Sister all dear to me.


[A] In writing to a mutual friend, M. Philippe de Quoex, St. Francis de
Sales says of Madame de la Fléchère: "With the exception of Madame de
Chantal I do not think that I have ever met in any woman a soul
stronger, a mind more reasonable, a humility more sincere." Madame de la
Fléchère lived at Rumilly, and was a lifelong friend of St. Jane
Frances, to whom she gave her château for a Visitation foundation, which
Convent her daughter Françoise de la Fléchère in later years governed.
Madame de la Fléchère was received into the Order on her deathbed.

There are no less than sixty letters extant from St. Francis de Sales to
Madame de la Fléchère.

XXVII. _To Sister Paule Jéronyme de Monthoux,[A] Mistress of Novices at

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     GRENOBLE, 1618.

I have received all your letters, my poor dear daughter; they came in
two sets and you have had replies to the first five, but I still have
four by me with questions to answer.

There is no doubt whatever that the novices should have recourse to
their Mistress in every matter, which the Rule says they are to treat
with her, and it is but fitting that they should be as exact as possible
on this point. Sister Assistant should give her instructions through
you: for to act otherwise would be very prejudicial to them.

Yes, you do well to tell me the more important things, but you do wrong
to call me a Saint. Take it to confession, and never do it again. My
God! I am nothing but a sink of miseries.

You are right to devote yourself as much as possible to your duties in
the novitiate. The body is indeed a poor thing, yet be careful to do
nothing to injure your health. May God bless your remedies, though I
very much doubt their curing you: however, in all things we must look
solely for His good pleasure. You are quite wrong, my daughter, in
thinking that Sister Assistant is not altogether open with you. Do not
make such reflections and don't hesitate about taking your own line. Has
not good M. ---- the Senator been right? Remember me most affectionately
and respectfully to him. Meantime I am very much concerned about your
illness. You ought to consult the doctor and do whatever he tells you.
Salute the good man cordially for me.

How is it the infirmarian never gives me one word of news? Well, my
dear, I am very fond of her all the same. I beg of her to gain the
mastery over that heart of hers so that she may train herself to
gentleness and simple observance; however, I will tell this dear
daughter, Marie Adrienne (Fichet), of this myself. I am glad that you
are employing little Sister Françoise Marguerite (Favrot). Test her well
so that she may advance in the virtues of religion.

If these dear novices hold fast to all that is marked down for them, and
I entreat them to do so, they will make great progress. Do not be afraid
to write quite candidly to me; letters are slow but sure in coming. I
wish you could be a little clearer and more detailed in speaking of the
causes which prevent the Superior from being quite fitted for her
office; I thought they were exterior rather than interior. Ah! what a
pity that our negligence should be of such prejudice to the service of
our good God. Write openly and walk faithfully in uprightness,
simplicity, and great gentleness, bearing with your neighbour, and
supporting her without stint. Seek God in all things and be faithful to
Him. He looks to the intention. Speak out boldly, with entire confidence
to our good M. Michel; he is a good and sincere man. Adieu, my daughter.
May the great Jesus make you all His own. Amen.


[A] Sister Paule Jéronyme de Monthoux de Annemasse was the first
Superior of the foundation of Nevers, 1620, and in 1625 of that of
Blois. Her biographer, Mother de Chaugy, tells us that in the houses she
founded the virtues of simplicity, poverty, and humility were so
successfully implanted by her that it could truly be said: "The workman
is recognized in the perfection of his work." She died at Blois in 1661,
where her memory was held in such veneration that a tombstone was
erected in her honour, half of which tombstone was in the Nun's choir
and half in the secular chapel, in order thus to satisfy the devotion of
the people.

XXVIII. _To M. Michel Favre, Confessor to St. Francis de Sales, and to
the Religious of the Visitation at Annecy._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     GRENOBLE, 1618.

Most truly, good Father and dear son, do I long for leisure to write as
my heart dictates to you, but it is impossible. My feelings towards you
are those of a mother, and greatly have you consoled me by your kindness
in telling me how God has made known His will to those two dear sisters
who aspire to Him and find their rest in His paternal bosom. It gives me
ineffable consolation, seeing that I myself have this same attraction,
but I should like to know the very words that were communicated to them
so that I may feed my soul upon them. This I say from my heart. Give me
then this satisfaction, and do you also nourish yourself with this
sacred manna. Truly having this, how can we seek elsewhere for other
place of security and rest?

Alas! dear Father, how pitiable are our infirmities and imperfections!
These two Sisters appear to me to be unduly observant of one another.
They have this defect by nature, and I think it better that I should not
tell them of it, lest they suffer from jealousy, both having so much
affection for me and such a desire to please me; but if you put it
before them and induce them to be more simple, cordial, and open with
one another that is all that is needed to set matters right, for I
plainly see that each fears to do wrong. Sister Assistant, who seems to
me the least in fault, ought to divert Sister N.'s mind, and be trustful
and more companionable, compassionately bearing with her, and in this
way draw her out of her melancholy. That is how I should act, and by so
doing I have often relieved and cured souls: warming their hearts with
confidence, talking over matters with them quite openly, while
consulting them as if I had need of their advice, and trusting them; yet
referring neither to their state of melancholy, nor to the subjects on
which they philosophize; neither to their difficulties nor to the
concerns of their neighbour. In a word, let these sisters act as charity
will teach them, if they but ask Our Lord. For, as our very dear Lord[A]
said to me yesterday, "It is to the humble souls that the divine
Goodness gives true wisdom."

Verily, if there is any lack of conformity to the teachings of our
Institute it is most improper that the sister novices should know of it.
This is a thing of importance, and is too serious to be dealt with
merely as we may feel inclined. The Mistress should lead the Novices
according to the ordinary exercises of the house, and if on some
occasion she differs in opinion as to these, she should communicate with
the Superior, and learn from her how to act. But for ordinary things,
when the sisters who are under the charge of the Mistress come to speak
to the Superior of their interior state and their difficulties she
should, before answering, ask them if they have spoken to their Mistress
and what she said on the subject. If their Mistress has wisely
instructed, let her confirm what the Mistress has said, and encourage
them to follow her direction; if, on the contrary, the Mistress has led
them astray she ought not to let the novice know it, but put her
imperceptibly on the right way, and then go herself to the Mistress,
talk the matter over with her, instructing her, and instilling into her
a desire to serve the Sisters affectionately. To me it seems always
better, when necessary, to nourish the esteem and confidence of the
novices for their Mistress. I should like the Superior to speak to them
as far as possible only through her, except when the Rule ordains
otherwise. But I have already written so much about this that I hope it
will be done; for I certainly see that our Sister Assistant has an
excellent heart. She must be encouraged to get out of herself, and to
seek the advancement and repose of the Sisters with simplicity and
integrity: only speaking to them for this end, and to console them: for
sometimes for our own satisfaction we have an awkward way of teasing and
worrying others by inopportunely returning to a subject which we should
never do if we gave ourselves time to reflect.

I write to you as to a trusty friend. Manage it all, very dear Father,
as you think best. It seems to me that if you do it as coming from
yourself it will be better received than if they thought you had
complained to me, or than if I said it myself.

Certainly this life is full of mortifications, therefore it is necessary
to keep ourselves above it, looking for a better life in which you will
clearly see how sincerely I am,

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] St. Francis de Sales.

XXIX. _To Sister Anne Marie Rosset, Assistant at Annecy._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     GRENOBLE, 1618.

It will be a great comfort to you, my very dear Sister, to see His
Lordship,[A] and to hear that all the people here expect to become more
fervent in the service of Our Lord by means of this house. God grant it
may be so! What a consolation it is to hear that Sister Paule Jéronyme
is fulfilling so well her very important charge. I hope all our dear
Sisters will by a faithful and strict observance of our holy Rules
advance every day in the way of Our Lord. To this fidelity, in the name
of our sweetest Saviour, I exhort them, and I embrace them all in spirit
with true and most sincere love. They should continue as the Rule
teaches, and with earnestness, to pray for the health and the growth in
holiness of his Lordship. And let them neither forget us, nor the other
new and dear foundations that are being planted here and there by the
hand of Our Lord; for these ought to be as dear to us as our own, since
it is the divine Will that we dwell in perfect union of heart, as by the
grace of God we do. Salute all our friends for me, especially dear
Madame de la Valbonne, not forgetting my poor old Sister Anne
Jacqueline, nor my friends the workmen, for whom I have a great liking.


[A] St. Francis de Sales left Grenoble to return to Annecy just at this

XXX. _To Sister Paul Jéronyme de Monthoux, Mistress of Novices at

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                 _26th April, 1618._

I know all about your little difficulties with good Sister Assistant.
You were like two children, but I see by your last letter you are now
simple and frank as children ought to be with one another. What pleasure
this gives me! It is just how I desire to see the heart of my dearest
little Jéronyme. You must keep it up and make no reflections whatever on
the past. As it helps you so much to tell me about your troubles, do so,
my daughter, for I am very glad to know them. You will have to be very
very generous in bearing with yourself and with others. Certainly, speak
out fearlessly, in a spirit of charity and cordial confidence, to Sister
Assistant of all you think proper. God be praised for the satisfactory
way in which your dear novices are getting on. You should be continually
helping them to advance, but do it gently, and bear with the little
weaknesses which are in some. Yes, the Mistress can speak to them when
necessary at their assembly and can send a young professed sister to
fetch her work. Their letters ought to be given to her, who can doubt
it? She can also speak to the novices during great silence but not
without necessity. Should the number in the novitiate be considerable
you must, in a spirit of charity, take what time you think necessary to
satisfy them. I have a great affection for you, child. No, no; you must
not say to the Sister Assistant, "Our Mother would not do that," unless
it be in council, and then only if necessary and with great respect.

XXXI. _To Madame de la Fléchère._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                               _2nd February, 1619._

Only one word, my dearest Sister, for it is not long since I wrote to
you, and I await good news of you. My own, thank God, is good. Our
little house goes on peaceably, its good odour increasing. As to my
children, I hope my daughter's marriage with M. de Foras will soon be
arranged, and that she will settle in Burgundy.[A]

My son[B] gives me as keen a sorrow as ever a mother could suffer--the
cause I will tell you when we meet. He is at court, brave and gallant as
he can be, and they tell me, that he is resolved to conduct himself well
and to make his fortune. My own wish is that he should do so with our
good Prince, but I know not what he will do. My dear Father will help
him. I am overwhelmed with letters that have to be answered, so I must
conclude. O, my very dear Sister, may the great Jesus be our only love!


[A] This marriage never took place, for, though St. Jane Frances desired
it, Françoise could not make up her mind to accept the gentleman.

[B] Celse Benigne, in whose character good and bad qualities were so
mingled that he was at once the joy and the anguish of his mother, each
time he risked the life of both his soul and body by the unfortunate
duels in which he was so often engaged, nearly broke her heart. In order
to avoid the seductions of Paris and the dangerous influence of his
friends, the Saint was anxious to have him attached to the Court of
Savoy, but her project did not find favour with the young Baron.

XXXII. _To Mother Jeanne Charlotte de Bréchard, Superior at Moulins._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   _July 9th, 1619._

This is only a line to announce the arrival of a good young lady[A] whom
his Lordship and I are sending to you. She needs a home to retire to,
and ardently desires to find it with us. Now, as we cannot have her
here, we hope you will welcome her and look after her lovingly and
charitably. She is a lady of quality and can give a good pension. She
will not come to you for a fortnight, so that you may have time to get
everything suitably ready for her. See that she has a little room with a
very neat and comfortable bed and all things as we are accustomed to
have them. Adieu, she will give you all our news. Do not expect his
Lordship for the clothing ceremony. Alas! this good and dear Father
feels far from well. Pray for him. I wrote to you the other day.


[A] The lady so charitably recommended to Mother de Bréchard was
Mademoiselle de Morville (Madame du Tertre). Left a widow at twenty-two,
she had long before given herself up to a life of vanity and worldly
pleasure. Her parents, anxious to safeguard her honour and the future of
her children, procured for her an introduction to St. Francis de Sales,
who was then in Paris. The result of this acquaintance was that Madame
du Tertre quickly renounced her unedifying life and asked to be admitted
into a Visitation Monastery, not as an aspirant to religious life but as
a secular benefactress.

Thinking it desirable to remove her to a distance from Paris, where the
temptations to return to her former life might prove too strong for one
so weak and so recently converted, St. Francis arranged with her family
and with Mother de Chantal to ask Mother de Bréchard to give her a home
in her convent. His solicitude was ill repaid. This volatile and
mischievous young woman brought endless bitterness to his heart, and to
that of St. Jane Frances, while she was the source of misery and
contention in the community in which she lived. In due time, acting upon
the advice of their holy Founder, who was ever too hopeful in his views
about Madame du Tertre, she was allowed to make her profession, but she
soon relapsed into her former disedifying and uncontrolled manner of
living, thereby becoming the cause of great suffering to the Institute.
A letter of St. Jane Frances' shows that her repentance at the end was
genuine, and that she died happily in peace with God.

XXXIII. _To Mother Péronne Marie de Châtel, Superior at Grenoble._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        PARIS, 1619.

You ask me, my dear daughter, if we are poor. Yes, indeed we are, but I
hardly ever give it a thought. Heaven and earth may pass away, but the
word of God remains eternally as the foundation of our hope. He has said
that if we seek His kingdom and His justice all the rest shall be added
unto us. I believe Him, and I trust in Him. The extreme necessity in
which we sometimes find ourselves gives us opportunities of practising
holy confidence in God and rare perfection. Truly we already see how
wise it is to adhere to Him and to hope in Him against all human hope,
for our foundation has been a thousand times more successful than we
dared to anticipate.

XXXIV. _To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Lyons._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                               _September 29, 1619._

What a great consolation for you, my very dear daughter, to have the joy
of a little visit from our dearest Father! It is such a relief that he
is out of Paris, where the epidemic[A] is so bad that his departure was
a delight to me. Although it surrounds us do not fear for us, daughter,
only pray earnestly that we may accomplish the most holy will of our
good God. I have every confidence that nothing will happen but what is
His good pleasure, and what pleases Him pleases us. So if it is His will
I shall often write to you, and I will address all my letters to his
Lordship, who has desired me to keep him well acquainted with our news.
I wish you could find out the best address for our letters and tell me
also how you will send yours. It would be well to take advantage of M.
Rousselet when he returns to this town, for he has a brother at Lyons.

I do not give you any news, dear daughter, for I have commissioned my
nephew de Boisy to do it; and besides, you know it is a thing which is
distasteful to me. One thing only is necessary--to possess God, and for
this I have a burning desire. This alone is happiness. All the rest is
mere smoke. Cling then with constancy to this holy aim. Write to me of
your interior state: you will be reviewing it now.[B] O God, how I love
that heart of my great and dear daughter! I long to see it generous,
pure, perfect, in a word united in a holy union with the _Heart_ of its
amiable and adorable God. Adieu, my daughter, a thousand good mornings
to you and to your dear flock. I do not know if his Grace of Lyons has
returned: he will mayhap want to delay the change of your congregation
into a monastery.[C] It is, however, expedient that it should be done
before you are taken away. His Lordship will speak to you of this. But
it must be managed very tactfully. One word in conclusion. Test your
daughters well before their profession.

Adieu, my daughter. I am always yours in Our Lord. You know this. May He
be blessed! St. Michael's Day.


[A] We read in the inedited "Foundations of the First Monastery of
Paris": "In the years 1619 and 1620 God permitted a terrible plague to
break out in Paris. Terror drove away not only the court but almost the
entire population, who sought safety in flight. So deserted did this
great city become that we are told the grass grew in the streets. As
might be expected in such circumstances, the alms upon which our newly
established Community subsisted entirely ceased, and to add to our
misfortunes we were surrounded by infected houses. All day long we could
hear the tinkle of the little bell that announced the passing of the
death waggon in front of the house."

[B] The autumn has always been the season appointed for the annual
Retreats of the Sisters of the Visitation.

[C] The Archbishop of Lyons, Mgr. de Marquemont, although the first to
urge that the Visitation should have enclosure and solemn vows, was the
last to put in force the Bull erecting it into a Religious Order. He
held back in the hope of inducing the house at Lyons to undertake the
reciting of the great Canonical Office.

XXXV. _To Sister Marie-Avoye Humbert, at Moulins._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        PARIS, 1619.

I want you to know, my dear little daughter, what a great consolation
your letter has been to me. You have portrayed your interior state with
much simplicity, and believe me, little one, I tenderly love that heart
of yours and would willingly undergo much for its perfection. May God
hear my prayer, and give you the grace to cut short these perpetual
reflections on everything that you do. They dissipate your spirit. May
He enable you instead to use all your powers and thoughts in the
practice of such virtues as come in your way. How happy would you then
be, and I how consoled! Make a fresh start in good earnest, my darling,
I beg of you. For faults of inadvertence and suchlike, humble yourself
in spirit before God, and after that do not give them another thought.
You will do this, will you not, my love? Ah, do! I ask it through the
love you bear to your poor mother. For the rest, say out boldly
everything in your letters; they always console me. Let nothing worry
you. Always yours in sincerity. Pray much for me. May the sweet Jesus
accomplish in you His holy will!

XXXVI. _To the Sisters of the Visitation of Bourges._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _October 3, 1619._

The affection I bear you is my only motive in striving to serve and
console you: I need no other spur, for that one is boundless. But God
does not intend that we should see each other for the present, and we
willingly submit our desires to His holy will. Meanwhile, let us prepare
ourselves by a greater fidelity to observance to profit by the occasion
should He arrange a meeting for us.

Above all things, dear daughters, dwell together, I beseech of you, in
a great and magnanimous love of His holy will, and a gentle mutual
support of one another, which will ravish the HEART of the sovereign
Goodness: for our good Saviour has said that it is by our love for one
another that we shall be recognized as His disciples.

No leisure for more--I recommend myself to your prayers. May God dwell
habitually in your midst and heap upon you His choicest graces!

Yours always in Him. May He be blessed!

XXXVII. _To the Sisters of the Visitation of Moulins._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                              _December 14th, 1619._

We are now beginning a new year, and with my whole heart I come to beg a
favour of you. For the sake of the honour and privilege of being
daughters of Our Lady will you not grant it to me? for all the affection
of which I am capable is bound up in the asking. It is this, to make a
strong and effectual resolve to walk in the way of exact observance,
obeying simply, in all humility and meekness.

In the name of God, let not self-conceit be seen amongst you, nor desire
of offices, nor of high places; but rather, in the knowledge of your
own weaknesses and miseries, cultivate a great love of humiliations, of
self-abasement, and of all things lowly. Never use sharp words one to
another. Holy gentleness, cordiality, and union of heart should reign
instead among you, so that a gracious affability may season all your
words and actions, and no shadow of repugnance ever show itself. Do not
think about whether you are loved more or less than another. Kill such
little foxes, I pray you, for they will steal away the peace of your
hearts. We should never desire to be loved, but believe that we get as
much affection as God sees good for us.

Never make questions as to whom the charges are given; never desire
them. The divine will ought to be the rule of our will and enough for
us. Now, my dear Sisters, give the Holy Virgin, our Lady, the pleasure
of seeing you serve our sweet Master, her dear Son, by being faithful to
these little counsels which I give on their part, and in their presence.
I ask this of you through the infinite goodness of the Son and Mother,
while I beseech them to grant you a superabundance of graces and their
eternal benediction. Amen.

XXXVIII. _To Mother Péronne-Marie de Châtel,[A] Superior at Grenoble._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                               _January 13th, 1620._

Ah! how is it, my darling, my dearest daughter, that you expect a severe
letter from me? I tell you candidly, and glory be to God for it, your
heart is too good to deserve scolding, and even if it were not, I have
no inclination to scold. In a letter which I received from his Lordship
speaking of the houses (of the Institute) that he has visited, he says:
"To speak quite openly, at Grenoble I have found one who is a Superior
altogether after my own heart." Now, you may imagine, my daughter, what
good it did my heart to hear this. Yes, indeed I love you very dearly,
but I can give you no better advice than to walk straight on in your own
path, which is a good one, without turning to right or left. You are
wonderful in the way you complain of yourself. Remember, that if God
permits you to be so unfaithful, He allows these little negligences so
that you may always have wherewith to humble yourself. When God
consoles you receive His consolations quite simply, accepting alike good
and ill. In a word, my daughter, you must unite yourself to God in
everything, and by everything, and lead your daughters in the same way.
As to a spiritual Father, nothing more can be done. You must continue to
have patience for a little longer and God will provide you with one.
Meanwhile be all things to your daughters, and then all will go well. It
is a great consolation to hear that they are so good. Oh! Lord Jesus,
pour down Thy graces upon this chosen company. Pray much for us. The
choice of a house here depends upon his Lordship, and we are at our
wits' end to find a suitable one; however, we hope to be settled this
summer. Well, my daughter, God alone suffices; were He our only
consolation, and did we never wish for any other, how happy we should
be! Let us hold to this, for nothing else matters. Adieu, my love. Pray,
and get prayers for my children, I beseech you. You are most truly,
believe me, the very dear daughter of my heart.


[A] Such was the reputation for fervour of the Monastery of Grenoble
that many distinguished members of the Society of Jesus, and of other
Orders, spoke of it as a "Furnace of Prayer," and a "School of Virtues,"
but the humility of Mother de Châtel hid from her the great work that
God was accomplishing through her means in her own community.

XXXIX. _To Mademoiselle de Chantal._

[The Saint tells her daughter of M. de Toulonjon's proposal of

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        PARIS, 1620.

Let us bless God who takes such care of His children who trust in Him.
His divine Providence is arranging for you something that I think you
will like: and for my part, it is altogether desirable to me. Your
brother is going to see you and he will tell you about the gentleman,[A]
whom you do not know but who has seen you. He is our neighbour at
Monthelon, a fine straightforward, brave gentleman, rich too, and with a
very well-appointed house. We are extremely pleased at the honourable
way in which he comes to make his courtship. Tell me promptly and
candidly, I beg of you, my dear daughter, if your affections are free,
for if so, and that you continue as reasonable and submissive as you
promised me to be in your last letter, you will be happier than you or I
could have dreamt of. For the love of God, my darling, put your whole
heart entirely into the hands of God and don't let yourself be
prejudiced by any foolish talking, or taken up with silly thoughts and
apprehensions. Let us act, for your happiness is dearer to us than it
is to yourself.

If it please the great God to bring this affair to a satisfactory
termination, verily you will be happy and well pleased, for this
gentleman is all that I could desire for you. All the rest I leave for
your brother to tell you. Do not speak about this matter to anyone, but
pray and send me your answer as soon as you can. Now don't fail to do
so. Write by two routes and promptly. In fifteen days I shall send to
the coach office for your answer, and I beg of you to have it there for
me. As regards other business, I have already asked you to urge M.
Coulon to sell Foretz. Be sure to see to this; for we must have three
thousand crowns in ready money, as I have promised that sum. Arrange
that M. Coulon pays you in full, at latest within six months; urge him,
and be careful to see that there is no unnecessary expenditure. I write
in the greatest haste. God bless you, my child. Unite with me in
praising and blessing Him always. I shall settle things to your best
advantage, so have no fear, dearest daughter.


[A] M. de Toulonjon.

XL. _To Mother Jeanne Charlotte de Bréchard, Superior at Moulins._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                 _March 12th, 1620._

I know well, my dearest Sister, how deeply you felt the news of my son's
accident,[A] for your heart is so full of love for me that all my
sorrows are sorrows to you. I did not mention it when writing because I
did not think of it. God has given me the grace not to be very much
upset by this news, which was broken to me bluntly enough. Indeed, it
was an unlooked for happening, and one in which a wiser man than he
could not have refused to come to the assistance of an injured friend.
Such is the way of the world. All the same he got into trouble about it,
without, however, being too much inconvenienced, and the affair is now
all settled. The good gentleman whom the sergeant tried to take away was
badly wounded and has not yet recovered; but thank God all the rest are
on their feet again.

Your prayers will be of use to my son and he needs them. We are thinking
of marrying my daughter[B] to M. de Toulonjon, the brother of Mme. de
la Poivrière. The matter has been proposed to us through M. Dautesy. My
nephew d'Effran and my son know him well, and they consider it a very
advantageous match for my daughter and advise me not to refuse. The
gentleman declared his intentions most honourably and with all
deference. He is a frank, honest man.

Do not speak of this for the present, my love, but pray about it, for I
fear my daughter's irresolution. She is a painful anxiety to me.

Our M. Lefevre has not come; if you can tell me where he is staying I
would invite him, or indeed beg of him to come here; however, the
chancellor is very likely to be with the King.

The girl I proposed to you as a lay sister lives near Moulins, but if
you have others whom you yourself know, do not trouble about her, it
does not signify. Your plan of treating with the Sisters for the Nevers
foundation is, I consider, admirable. They have done the same at
Orleans. But, my dear friend, see that everything is on a very secure
footing and only treat with good subjects, such as you know they ought
to be. For the rest visit and find out all about the place they propose
selling to you before you purchase it, and arrange, if you can, as they
have done at Orleans, to purchase in case it proves suitable, and if not
desirable as a permanent residence, to rent it. What you tell me about
the Carmelites wishing to take it keeps me in a state of uncertainty,
for they are extremely prudent and have very competent people to help
them. But the good Father of our Sisters (Bonsidat) can do much with the
advice of the Jesuits. I think, or rather I fear, they may be very glad
to put us off now that the Carmelites are coming. Indeed, we must put
the affair into the hands of God and follow good counsel as you are
doing. You should make quite certain of the consent of the gentlemen of
Nevers and of the authorities of the town before taking the Sisters
there; for this reason we must obtain it, at latest, by Easter, as it is
so far from Nessy, and I think those for Orleans will be sent by
Pentecost. By the way, you have not told me if they have sent you a
mistress of novices; but as dear Sister Marie Hélène (de Chastellux) is
doing so well I think you might do with her. Certainly, my child, if the
Superior of Nevers is from Nessy that is enough. Don't urge Mgr. of
Lyons, but let him do as he likes. Your spiritual Father can give
permission for the departure of the Sisters.

You see I am writing in breathless haste. We are always overwhelmed with
work here; but to-day it is because I have a heavy cold for which I was
bled yesterday. You know how subject I am to these colds, but you need
not be in the very least anxious about me. Would to God, my dearest
friend, that you kept as well as I do, and that they took as much care
of you! It distresses me that you have no one to look after you. May God
in His goodness provide you with someone! Take what care you can of
yourself, I beseech you.

I have had no news of his Lordship for a long time, but I know he is
quite well. Thank God, I think he will soon go to Piedmont. M. de Boisy
is coadjutor in the bishopric of Geneva. No more time. I salute your
dear family and your hostess. I cannot write more. Good-bye, my dearest
and best of daughters, for whom I have such a special love. Urge on your
daughters gently in the way of holy tranquillity and recollection. Amen.


[A] The young Baron de Chantal had just been compromised, not in a duel,
but in one of those sudden assaults so common at that period, in which
he took part in order to defend a friend who had been attacked.

[B] Françoise de Chantal.

XLI. _To Mademoiselle de Chantal._

Vive [+] Jésus!

  PARIS, 1620.

Listen to this, daughter dear. M. de Toulonjon finds himself free for
eight or ten days, and off he is going to know whether you consider him
too old to please you; for as regards everything else he is in hopes of
finding favour with you. As for me, to be candid with you I see nothing
to find fault within him, and even nothing more to wish for. I never
before remember feeling such satisfaction about a temporal matter. Our
Lord has given me this feeling. It is not so much this gentleman's good
nature and good birth that attracts me as his mind, disposition,
candour, his good sense, uprightness, and reputation. In a word, my dear
Françoise, we may well bless God about this affair. In gratitude to Him,
my child, you should try to love and serve Him better than you have ever
done and to let nothing whatsoever prevent you from frequenting the
sacraments and from practising humility and gentleness. Take the Devout
Life for your guide and it will lead you safely. Do not lose your time
over such little vanities as jewels and clothes. You are about to
possess them in abundance, but, dear daughter, never forget that we
should use the good things God gives us without being attached to them,
and everything that the world esteems should be looked upon in this
light. Henceforth, let your ambition be to be adorned with honour and
modest discretion in the position into which you are about to enter.
Indeed I am gratified that your relatives and I have arranged this
marriage without you. It is thus that the wise act, and I should like
always to be your counsellor. Besides, your brother, who has a good
judgment, is charmed with this alliance. M. de Toulonjon it is true is
some fifteen years your senior, but, my child, you will be far happier
with him than if you married a foolish, inconsiderate young scamp such
as are the young men of to-day. You are marrying a man who is nothing of
all this, who never gambles, but who has passed his life at court and
in the battlefield with honour and who has a high appointment from the
King. You will not have the good judgment with which I credit you if you
do not receive him cordially and frankly. Do so, my daughter, with a
good grace, and be assured that God has you in His mind and will not
forget you if you throw yourself tenderly into His arms, for He takes
care of those who trust in Him.

XLII. _To Sister Marie-Marthe Legros, at Bourges._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        PARIS, 1620.

I understand perfectly, and have never doubted but that your intention
was upright. Don't be afraid to tell me what you think it your duty to
mention, but, my love, do not worry yourself about such things, if they
are not manifest faults. Leave them to the coadjutrix, who ought to do
her duty in all humility and cordiality. Tell her from me that I will do
all she asks me, but I cannot write to her this time. For God's sake
observe the rules punctually, and have all of you but one heart and one
soul, and so will your love be perfect in Our Lord. Give my affectionate
love to my poor fat Sister M. M., and dear little M. Louise; both are in
my heart. I wish all happiness to the two dear daughters
Marie-Françoise and Anne-Marie; I pray God to give them and all of you
the virtue of holy obedience, the mother of all virtues.

Be sure to tell the dear professed that they have a bigger share of my
heart than they dream of. But as to the reception to the habit of Sister
---- this child has not the conditions marked, why then have they given
her their votes? They do not set sufficient value on fidelity to the
Rule. Votes should never be given in the hope of amendment, you should
see the improvement first before giving the habit, and the same with
regard to Sister C. M.: she should not make her profession at the end of
the year. Why! in truth she has only really conducted herself as a
novice for six months, so she ought, I consider, to be kept back, and
this will prove her perseverance and bring home to her that she does not
deserve to be professed, and that with humility and submission, such
matters should be left in the hands of the Superior, and the Sisters. By
this prolongation of her trial, her virtue and her dispositions will be

May God in His goodness give you all His spirit, and the grace to weigh
well all our Rules, so that they may be observed and followed even to
the most insignificant point, for in this our happiness consists.

Adieu to you, my dear Sister, and to all our dear professed. Let us love
God and accomplish His will, I beseech you, my dearly loved daughter.

XLIII. _To Madame du Tertre._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _11 August, 1620._

Having a little free time I make use of it to beg of you in the name of
God to accept the judgement of the Bishop of Geneva, to whom you have
referred this affair, and who considers that what was so deliberately
settled on the house of Nevers should remain with that house. You, my
dearest daughter, ought to be indifferent about such matters so long as
we give you all you desire. Why should you trouble as to what use we
make of your gift since quite sufficient is provided for your
maintenance? If you keep to your holy desire of living amongst us and
giving yourself entirely to God you must, if you please, trust his
Lordship and show that you are satisfied with his decision. As for us,
we desire neither law-suit nor contention, and a hundred times would we
prefer to return all you have given us rather than retain it with the
least accompanying unpleasantness: for we value peace with holy poverty
incomparably more than all the goods this world can give us.

The Bishop of Geneva will not disclaim what I now say to you. I am a
little surprised that, since his letters have arrived, we have received
no news except that much pressure is being brought to bear on our
Sisters of Nevers to induce them to return the money they have received.
It is their Bishop tells me this. You understand, my very dear daughter,
that if you desire to persevere, as I believe you do, you must please,
now that you are acquainted with the views of his Lordship of Geneva,
cease to discuss this matter.

Our poor Sisters of both houses are sorely afflicted at having to give
ear to a style of conversation with which they are unacquainted--peace
is more to them than such things. Let them have it, then, I pray you.

                                             Believe me,
                                                  Always yours, etc.

XLIV. _To M. de Palierne, Treasurer of France at Moulins._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _August 15, 1620._

Your regard for the Bishop of Geneva and for our little Institute,
together with the prudence with which you have always guided our Convent
of Moulins, gives me hope that you will find a means of adjusting the
opposing claims of the Bishop of Nevers and Madame du Tertre. The
pregnant arguments you put forward bear, I acknowledge, great weight,
but so do those of his Lordship of Nevers. I see much to consider on
both sides. Yet I tell you frankly, and it seems to me that I am not
unreasonable in my opinion, that, in consideration of Madame du Tertre's
resolve to live with us, what she has so freely given ought to be left
with the house of Nevers: otherwise she would have to make a virtue of
necessity, and this we should be sorry to oblige her to do. But I am
chiefly influenced by the fact that the authorities of Nevers only gave
permission for the establishment of the Convent because Madame du Tertre
accompanied her petition by a promise of ten thousand crowns, which
promise was followed by the actual purchase in her name of a property,
and the payment of a third of the foundation money; and on the strength
of this the Sisters were received. Possession was afterwards taken of
the house. The Sisters were installed by the Bishop, enclosure
established, and the Blessed Sacrament reserved. Since that day the
Divine Office[A] has been continuously recited. Thus, the foundation is,
as you see, completely established. How, then, can Madame du Tertre,
having undertaken the financial establishment of this house, now draw
back without upsetting the whole affair? For as his Lordship of Nevers
has upon two occasions plainly told me, the spiritual foundation cannot
exist without the temporal.

Do you not see, Sir, that to do what this young lady wishes would mean
ruining one of our houses to ensure abundance to the other house.

My very dear brother, may I, Sir, so call you? When writing to you, I
have often thought of doing so because of my sisterly confidence in, and
affection for you, and because of the obligations under which you have
placed me. This I say simply and frankly, though perhaps somewhat
unconventionally. Allow me Sir, my very dear brother, to tell you that
the property is not ours to divide. As Madame du Tertre no longer wishes
to adhere to her first resolve, she may be at liberty to take back what
she has given, but I do not know what justice would have to say on this
point. Still, putting justice aside, the Bishop of Geneva would surely
not approve of our retaining one _teston_[B] that was not freely given.
Oh! of that there is no doubt. But as she has entered amongst us, and as
our house of Moulins is satisfied with the twenty thousand francs she
brings, acknowledging that this sum is quite sufficient to provide the
young lady with all she requires, and as the affair concerns our own
houses, is it not better to follow the advice of his Lordship of Geneva
and share the ten thousand crowns between the two houses? or at least
leave ten thousand francs to Nevers, so that that house may not be
ruined. It was upon the assurance of this from our Moulins sisters that
those of Nevers decided to go to that town. Before God, how can we
possibly put into the power of the Bishop of Nevers such a favourable
pretext for sending the sisters away? Oh! can you not see, my very dear
brother, how shameful it would be, and how prejudicial to the service of
God? Although the houses are ours, and we have the principal interest in
them, the agreement has been more to the advantage of this dear young
lady than to us. For with her twenty thousand francs she possesses at
Moulins all the privileges she could hope for were it fifty thousand,
and besides, when there is just reason, in virtue of her title of
benefactress, she is free to pass on to Nevers and there enjoy the same
rights as are conferred on her at Moulins. This, in my opinion, is a
very just arrangement and I most humbly beg of you to induce her to
accept it. Use your influence with her, I beseech of you, for the honour
and glory of God and of His Blessed Mother, and also for the love you
bear our little Institute. Madame du Tertre desired to know the wishes
of the Bishop of Geneva, and he has acceded to her request. Let her then
accommodate herself to his views and live in peace. I appeal to you in
the name of God, for I see no other way of settling this affair, and I
own candidly that I can obtain nothing more from his Lordship of Nevers,
who holds out for the full sum and writes about it in a very
matter-of-fact way. I answer as God directs me, resolved through His
grace to place all in His hands and to remain in peace and submission to
whatever divine Providence ordains.

I beg of our Sisters of Moulins to do whatever justice demands. Oh! what
a shame it would be to see our houses sueing one another! A thousand
times rather would I prefer to see them overwhelmed with reproaches and
poverty than that this should ever happen. If, dearest brother, after
all these humble petitions and arguments, Madame du Tertre and our
Sisters of Moulins wish to act against those of Nevers she must do as
she pleases; but we shall neither blame them nor defend ourselves, for
to do so would not be the will of God, and under these circumstances I
am persuaded it would be better for one or other entirely to surrender
its claim. Such, too, is the opinion of his Lordship of Geneva.

Oblige me by telling our Sister, the Superior of Moulins, that I have
already written to her, as by accident she may not have yet received my
letter. This, that I now write to you, will also serve for good Madame
du Tertre, it being all I am able for, as I have a slight indisposition
which is becoming habitual with me. I have no other wish than that she
should be treated sweetly and cordially with all affection as she
certainly merits. But, I assure you, Nevers was entirely her own free
choice: I have ample evidence of this in her letters. God only knows all
that has passed on this subject. Our poor Sister Superior may have
appeared somewhat inflexible and shown how much she felt this rupture.
But, dearest brother, in consideration for her position we must throw
over this fault of weakness or surprise, the mantle of holy charity,
that mantle which bears with all, excuses all, and hides all the defects
of her children. These last lines are in confidence for your own ear
only, your goodness and piety encouraging me to confide in you. I
beseech of you in conclusion to use all the influence at your command in
favour of peace and charity. Believe me, I am truly indifferent to
everything except the glory of God.

I remain, Sir, very dear brother, with much affection,

                              Your humble and obliged
                                     Sister and servant in Our Lord.


[A] The Little Office of Our Lady.

[B] An old French coin.

XLV. _To St. Francis de Sales._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     _August, 1621._

Pray much, my incomparable Father, for the Archbishop of Bourges,[A] and
ask our Sisters to pray for him. What is this storm after all in
comparison with the sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion? I beseech His
divine Majesty, to which I have consecrated myself, to let my brother's
part in this affair serve entirely for His glory, and I doubt not but
that it will be so. The doctor was thunderstruck when they told him that
Mgr. of Bourges had been removed and M. N. given the Archbishopric. He
speaks of nothing but the universal affection of the people of Bourges
for our good Archbishop, who feels this blow though he has taken it in
his usual good-natured way. You who know him can understand how
detrimental the change will be to the poor and to the religious Houses,
to both of whom he has been such a benefactor. Our Sisters will not be
the least sufferers, for he loved them much and was extremely good to
them. A word from you would be an immense consolation to him.

May the sweet Jesus fill your heart with His most pure love, and may we
eternally repose in Him. Amen.


[A] The Archbishop of Bourges, being one of those who discovered the
ambitious conspiracy hatched by Condé, Governor of Berry, for which he
was arrested in September, 1616, became, upon that Prince's release
several years later, the object of his special vengeance. He obliged
Mgr. Frémyot to resign his Archiepiscopal See, assigning him in
compensation the abbeys of Ferrières, and Breteuil, and also the priory
of Nogent-le-Rotrou.

XLVI. _To Madame de la Fléchère._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        PARIS, 1621.

Madame, I pray that God may always be your strength, your love, and your
hope, for in my littleness I have an incomparable affection for you. Eh!
but your letters, dear, best of sisters, console me, and yet I truly
feel with you who bear the burden of sharp and hidden sorrows. But after
all, how happy we should be to suffer such things with only the eye of
God to look upon them. Truly our crosses ought greatly to raise our
courage, seeing that by them we attain to a union all secret with our
sweet Master, the greatness of whose sufferings nor men nor angels can
ever conceive. Take comfort in this thought when pain is at its height.
Still, you ought not to conceal your pain from our _Blessed Father_ (but
I think you do not).

We can, it seems to me, so name him, as there is a worthy ecclesiastic
here who calls him _the true Father_. I am sure, dearest sister, that
each day he strives after a higher perfection. Happy they who have the
example of his rare virtues before them, but far happier they who
imitate them! God grant us the grace to be of this number, and may my
weakness not hold me back. I shall be satisfied if I follow him a
hundred steps behind. I am very glad that your sister has the comfort of
staying with you and that your son is good. May God give him the grace
to persevere, and may he root all vanity out of your daughter's heart.
Mine is very extravagant. It is well that she has found such a good and
prudent husband. When I see her I do my best to make her sensible and to
show her her mistake. I recommend her to your prayers. My son is also
most extravagant, but otherwise he is brave, loveable, and esteemed at
court, where the King has given him a very honourable post for one so
young. But all this is vanity. I value more your remembrance of him
before God than all these dignities. He is always here, I mean with the
court, or in his garrison. I trust to the prayers of our Blessed Father
to save these children's souls, and that is all I care about.

Adieu, dearest Sister.

XLVII. _To the Countess de Toulonjon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        PARIS, 1621.

The dress I am sending you is really quite perfect and is the most
beautiful that can be procured. If your brother were very rich it would
be a pleasure to him to pay the bill for you, but as it is he begs of
you to be satisfied with his good-will, for he has not wherewith to pay
it. Be content with this dress, for it is handsome and quite
sufficiently stylish, and because you so long for it I want to satisfy
you. M. de Toulonjon writes that you have not a single gown except the
one you are wearing. I cannot understand this, as during the last
seventeen months you have had four silk dresses and the brocade costume
about which you told me. What then am I to think, I pray you, dear
Françoise? Oh! God bless you, my daughter; do be content and let it be
seen that you are the child of parents who were altogether reasonable,
peaceful, and constant in their perfect affection, and this it is that I
desire for you.

I write in haste. A thousand salutations to all your dear relatives. Do
not expect your brother: he cannot go to you, and I do not wish him to.
You have my nephew. Courage, my child, be not a silly, frivolous girl,
troubling over trifles, and letting them take up your thoughts. Urge M.
de Toulonjon to send me the money for the dress. The amount of the bill
is, I understand, 500 livres, and I have not got the money to pay it, so
let me have it by the first opportunity, as I do not wish to remain in
debt here.

God bless you, dearest Françon. I am in a great hurry.

XLVIII. _To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Montferrand._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        _May, 1622._

Your letter of the 17th of March is the only one I have received; the
others will no doubt come to hand later, God willing. You must not put
off your departure beyond the date you mention. I do wish you were here,
for it certainly does delay me not to have you. Your presence here is
needed, and as the affairs of dear Mme. de Dalet are hopeless you had
better come away as soon as ever you can. The house of Montferrand ought
to finance your journey from the place whence you came to them, and the
house of Lyons should do likewise; but your coming here is hardly more
than your going to Nessy.[A] I shall write to the Lyons Sisters in
reference to this.

We are, thank God, poor here, yet, God be praised, nothing is wanting to
us. A widow of good family, discreet and genial, wants to live with us
as a benefactress. She proposes giving her furniture and 2,000 crowns,
besides defraying all her own expenses.

We have received two good children, and find no lack of aspirants for
our life, but the important thing is to be careful in our choice. In my
opinion you will be pleased with those you will find here. Yesterday we
went with Mgr. de Langres[B] to look for a house. It is not easy to find
a suitable one, but Our Lord will help us. We are advised to bide our
time and to put up with the house that adjoins this, which is
sufficiently commodious for a beginning. Moreover, to the money the good
lady (the benefactress) intends giving us she will add sufficient to
enable us to be housed here. Then upon our leaving this house, which
will be at the end of three or four years, if not sooner, she will give
us the 2,000 crowns. Everybody agrees in thinking this a most
advantageous offer. The worst of it is that the garden is very small:
the courts are quite suitable. Dijon is very much shut in, and it is
difficult to find a house to rent that will accommodate us. That in
which we now are is small and has no garden or courtyard except one
hardly bigger than a table. Even as I write it makes me laugh to think
of it; and I must tell you besides that if we want to get a little fresh
air we have to climb on the roof. Nevertheless, we are, thank God, as
merry and as contented as we can be. Be on your guard, my _great
daughter_,[C] against that dislike which you have of coming here.
Overcome it, I beg of you, for everybody who knows that you are coming
is delighted at the idea, and as for me, I simply cannot tell you how I
am looking forward to it. Oh! what a joy to see you once more for a
little while. It will do me a world of good. Who are those timorous
people who say that they must not use terms of affection to me? I don't
agree with them at all, neither should you. Our hearts could not stand

The Archbishop of Lyons is in trouble as to who will take you back. They
have made a great fuss about Sister ----. If our _Cadette_ is removed I
am afraid that house will fail. She has never been elected: see to this
if you can at your deposition, and don't stop longer than just to
arrange about it. Let me have news of you again before you start. What
will Mme. de Chazeron's plan come to? I most affectionately salute your
_successor_. It has always been a source of regret to me that I have not
seen your community: none the less do I love it, and I send my warm
greetings to it and to all its good friends.

                               With all my heart, your affectionate,

P.S.--Ask the Sisters, I beseech you, to pray hard and continually for
my poor son till he is won back to Our Lord.


[A] A popular name for Annecy.

[B] Monseigneur Sebastian Zamet, Bishop of Langres, in which diocese
Dijon was situated.

[C] A title given to Mother Favre by St. Francis.

XLIX. _To M. de Neuchèze._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     _June 8, 1622._

So engrossing is Paris, my dear nephew, that if I do not refresh your
memory about your old aunt she runs the chance of your forgetting all
about her. Yet for all that I do not think you would forget me. I have
received too many proofs of your good nature for that. But, tell me,
what are you doing in that great Paris amidst so many honours and such
worldly luxuries? Oh! I beseech of you, dear child, guard yourself
vigilantly on every side, lest an undue affection for these things take
hold of you. My God! how I hate them all. And am I not right, dearest
nephew, since they leave no time for reflection, and no desire for
eternal goods? All is sacrificed to perishable enjoyments. For the love
of God beware of them. I would have you protect your dear soul with a
very watchful care, so that however abundantly you possess temporal
things they may never take possession of you. Rise quickly and holily
above them all. This advice goes to you direct from my heart, and as
coming thence I know you will receive it. Now and always I am most
affectionately desirous of obtaining for you through the divine
Goodness an abundance of blessings, all that it is in my power to
procure, that you may enjoy God's grace in this life and in the next His
glory. These, dearest nephew, are the wishes of her who remains always,

                                  Your very humble aunt and servant.

P.S.--Allow me very affectionately to salute good M. Robert Dapantor[A]
and all your household. Dear Sister Parise[B] took the habit on St.
Claud's Day. Mgr. de Langres gave it to her and performed the whole
ceremony. She sends you affectionate messages, as does likewise the
deceased[C] Mother of Bourges and all that little family of nine
daughters. If they dared they would all beg of you respectfully to
salute on their part his Grace the Archbishop.


[A] Former tutor of the young Baron de Chantal.

[B] Sister Marie Claire Parise was the foundress of the Visitation
Monastery at Dijon--a humble and fervent soul. While still a secular she
asked God never to permit her to be without suffering of some kind for
His love. He heard her prayer, and her life was a continual interior
martyrdom, nevertheless joy and tranquility of soul never abandoned her.
Having with the utmost solicitude and care established the monastery of
Dijon, she was sent to Beaune, on its foundation in 1632, and there died
in the odour of sanctity.

[C] A nickname given by the Saint to Sister Anne Marie Rosset when she
was deposed from the Superiorship of Bourges.

L. _To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior of the First
Monastery of Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _30th June, 1622._

I cannot but believe, my dearest daughter, that there is more artifice
than martyrdom about our N., and I assure you I find it very difficult
to think otherwise. If she were reproved, or passed over, I expect it
would cure her. There will be nothing but trouble if God does not put
His hand to the work. May His divine Goodness apply the remedy. I
enclose her letter, and my reply. What a strange thing is this spirit of
the world! You must remain patient and firm under its hard criticism. As
you will see by my answers all your letters have reached me.

It certainly is a rare thing, my child, in a large community not to find
someone who is a trial, but that so many are good is a great subject of
consolation. For the love of God, I pray you don't imagine that it is
through your fault that others do not advance. That is not so, thank
God. They will be very happy, my dearest daughter, if they follow your
advice, and do as you do. In a word I am of opinion that in this (the
support of feeble souls) consists in great part the cross of poor
Superiors. The strength of mind God gives you to reprimand will be of
great service to them. Persevere in allowing nothing contrary to
perfection. For zeal combined with gentleness is of great force in
animating hearts, and the like of us women need to be perpetually egged
on and kept up to the mark.

I feel I must just simply tell you the truth. All you say about yourself
gives me great cause to praise God. It is all excellent. Go always, as
you now do, to God alone. I had much consolation in reading your letter
and above all in seeing what courage God has given you. Verily, my dear
Sister, he who loves not, he who trusts not, he who rests not wholly in
the arms of divine Providence must be hard as flint and altogether
insensible. In these arms, then, at His mercy, let us dwell so that He
may do as He pleases with us.

I cannot tell you how grateful I feel to God for the graces that I see
and know you to have received, and it seems to me that for this I am
under a great obligation of gratitude to Him.

Instruct, and speak continually to your daughters of the sweet, sure,
abundant mercy of God towards those souls who hand themselves over to
Him, trusting Him out and out. I am very glad about little de B. I think
she will be a good child if she can bear mortification, but the
gentleness which is practised with us will make it easy for her.
Goodbye, my dearest daughter; I am truly overwhelmed here with visits
and writing. I salute all my friends and above all our poor Sisters of

Show these letters to the Rev. Father. It only needs a little time to
get the postulant away. We must do this, and say nothing, except that as
the Chapter has not received her she cannot be kept, and we must bear
the consequences patiently. God will direct all and you will draw profit
from it. The good Father who brings you these letters is a great friend
of our Institute, and we are under many obligations to him.

LI. _To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at Dijon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                               _8th December, 1622._

Here we are returned from our dear little Montferrand where I certainly
found excellent souls, full of desire to advance in the perfect
observance. The poor Superior[A] was almost broken by the dread of her
charge; this she told me you already knew from herself; I have left her
greatly encouraged. She truly gives me pleasure, for her judgement is
good, her aspirations are good, and she possesses an exceedingly good
appearance and manner (several illegible lines). My daughter, perform
the Office, I beg of you, as it is marked. These fancies pass. His
Lordship wishes us to keep up a tone not too high, but moderate, and to
sing clearly, distinctly, and evenly: as for other faults I do not know
of any, unless some defect in pronunciation. I very much desire that we
should observe the same manner of singing the Office in all the houses;
changes I find slip in. But for the future his Lordship will mark how it
is to be carried out, and then we have only to keep to what is settled.
At St. Etienne they drag shockingly. By the way there is an excellent
Superior there who carries out her charge with great discretion.[B] You
know how exact she is, she fits into her office admirably. I tell her
that she is in her element. Certainly all goes well in that house, and I
am delighted with it.... Monseigneur is here,[C] and we see a little of
him. He does not wish us to leave yet; this I think is out of
consideration for the Archbishop of Bourges. Sister Marie de Valence is
also here. She is undoubtedly a most humble and simple soul, without any
constrained or peculiar ways, and her little daughter is the same.

I pray you, my child, manage if you can to get the letters from Madame
de Puy-d'Orbe; I wish you could help her, for she greatly needs it.

His Lordship wants us seriously to contemplate a means of keeping the
houses united. He intends to consult the great Jesuit Fathers about it,
and he wishes us always to have recourse to them, for he says no one
comes up to them. I am very glad the Father Rector likes you so much; he
has always done so. Salute him very affectionately for me, also the good
Father Gentil, I have the highest respect for them both. But above all
do I honour with a singular reverence and affection Mgr. de Langres.
Assure him of it, my child. When he goes to Dijon and when I know he is
there I shall write to him.

M. Gariot is here: he will worry you with his suggestions, but it is not
necessary, I think, to do all he wants, at least I don't: above all in
the parlour, where I cut him short; nevertheless, my Love, have his
affairs recommended to Councillor Berbisey. This is urgent, for he
wishes to start. My good cousin, I must tell you, is in admiration of
you (three lines illegible). He has a good heart; be quite open with
him, and with the good Sister de Vigney, who is also very fond of you,
as indeed are all the others.

Adieu, my child, my truly amiable and dearest daughter. God be
blessed--Our Lady's Day--have prayers said for our affairs. Salute on my
behalf all our relatives, our friends, and whoever else you wish.


[A] Mother Marie Jacqueline Compain.

[B] The foundation of St. Etienne had but just been made, and Mother
Françoise Jéronyme de Vilette named Superior.

[C] "On December 8th, 1622, while King Louis XIII. was making his state
entry into Lyons amidst a great display of pomp on the part of the two
courts of France and Savoy, St. Francis de Sales, wishing, like a true
father, to enjoy the society of his daughters, sent off all his retinue
to see the fête and came by himself to the Convent parlour. There in the
course of conversation with us he drew a contrast between the feast
which the Church that day celebrated, and the political feast the town
was keeping in honour of the King's entry.

"Our worthy Mother de Chantal, who was present, was overjoyed to meet
again the father of her soul, but this meeting was not to give her the
consolation for which she had hoped. The town was crowded with persons
of distinction, all of whom flocked to the Visitation, there to meet
'the Sun of Prelates,' as they called St. Francis de Sales. One day the
Archbishop of Bourges and his nephew, the Abbé de Neuchèze, the devout
Sister Marie de Valence, and Père Cotton, S. J., all met in our parlour,
so that it was said our house was the meeting-place of all the holiest
people, and had become, so to say, a court of Heaven, while the court of
the Royal Princess was being held in the town.

"Upon a certain day St. Francis, having some hours free, came to the
parlour to confer with the Venerable Foundress; but much as she wished
to speak to him of her interior state, he would not permit her to do so,
deferring all that until their return to Annecy, desiring her to visit
the Monasteries of Valence, Grenoble, and Belley before returning to
Savoy. St. Jane Frances at once set out, never dreaming that she had
seen her blessed Father for the last time on earth." (Taken from the
"History of the Foundation of Lyons.") St. Francis died on the 28th of
that same month.

LII. _To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior of the First
Monastery of Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1623.

It is indeed true that the privation of the presence of my beloved
Father is the greatest sorrow I could have: for it was my priceless
privilege and my sole joy in this life. But since it has pleased God to
deprive me of it I acquiesce in His good pleasure with all my heart,
consoling myself in that I can now say with truth: "He is my supreme and
only consolation." Alas! my dearest Sister, ought not this to be enough
and even all-satisfying? Truly that heart is too avaricious for which
God is not enough: and miserable is the heart which is satisfied with
anything less than God. I owe it to you, and it is my wish to tell both
you and Sister Hélène-Angélique (L'huillier), since by the goodness of
God you are so perfectly united, that this most holy soul, who in life
gave us so many perfumes of virtue, gives us still the manifestation of
them.[A] The greater part of the sisters here perceived numberless
times and in divers places odours so sweet and extraordinary that we can
but think it is our Blessed Father who visits us and makes us understand
by these celestial perfumes that he is praying for us. How this
penetrates me, dearest Sister! On Sunday I was quite overcome, for three
distinct times I was conscious of them.

It would take too long to tell you how God is manifesting His most
humble Servant. In a word there is much for which to thank and glorify
Him. Do so then, my daughter, whom my soul loves, and let your gratitude
be shown by faithful observance to all we have learnt. Oh! what honour
and happiness is comparable to that of serving in humble and absolute
submission the holy will of our good God! Let us only think of, only
seek this glorious eternity, for there is our Sovereign Good, with whom
we shall eternally rejoice. May He be blessed!

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] We read in the history of the foundation of Annecy: "As soon as the
blessed body (of St. Francis de Sales) had been carried into the first
Monastery, celestial perfumes were perceived throughout the entire
house, on account of which our worthy Mother forbade the Sacristan, who
alone had in her keeping pastilles and perfumes, to use any of them, and
a like obedience she gave to all the Sisters, forbidding them to handle
or put any scented thing anywhere in the house. But all these
precautions only served the better to make known the favour Our Lord had
granted, for the cloisters, corridors, choir, oratories, and other
places of the Monastery were perfumed with a most fragrant odour, which,
like a heavenly unction, spread many interior graces upon the

LIII. _To Mother Marie Hélène de Chastellux, Superior at Moulins._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1623.

Glory be to God, dearest Daughter, that this disagreement between you
and our Sisters of Nevers has come to an end. I have known of it for a
long time. Henceforth, I conjure you, live together in perfect and sweet
union, for such was the desire of our Blessed Father.

I shall write to our Sister the Superior of Paris, and if she can leave
you the dowry of Sister M. Marguerite I am sure she will do so, for she
is no lover of money, but justice must be maintained.

For God's sake keep far from you all desire of being well off. Love
poverty and God will make you abound in true riches: this is the spirit
of our Blessed Father. He could not tolerate any eagerness in us for
temporal goods, or that we should be solicitous at all about them. It
consoled him to see souls love and esteem poverty. Surely it is but
reasonable that we who are vowed to it should no longer hold dear the
riches we have renounced. And it is with the great Master that this
contract has been made. Oh! my daughter, be not angry with me for
speaking thus. I do not accuse you of this evil, but I speak because I
have an extreme desire to see holy poverty honoured and cherished
amongst us, and my heart's wish is that every soul in the Institute
should love it.

O Jesu! never burden yourself, daughter dearest, with girls who have no
religious vocation, nor fitting dispositions for our manner of life.
After having exercised charity for some months towards this girl, if God
does not truly touch her heart and if she does not genuinely desire to
be a Religious, you ought in all humility to ask these gentlemen, her
relations, to take her away: for how does it look, I pray you, to keep
girls in the convent who are simply boarders and _must_ have their meals
apart? Certainly, daughter, this must not be done, and I feel confident
that Sister Marie Aimée (de Morville) is too good-hearted not to help
this girl to overcome herself, and send her to eat with the community
while she is with you. My God, how we must guard ourselves against this
miserable world, and take every precaution, lest its spirit enter into
our monasteries. May God in His mercy preserve us from it!

I have the greatest aversion to this title _Mère ancienne_, because it
is against the Rule and therefore against the spirit of our Blessed
Father. You will see a little reference to it in the last conference he
gave at Lyons. I should like to see our Sisters hold in such reverence
his memory, and the Rule, that in comparison to them they could give no
thought at all to their own silly fancies and inclinations, and I am
sure Sister Jeanne Charlotte (de Bréchard) would agree with me, as she
ought to in this. Alack! what honour is there in such things? Rather is
honour to be found in perfect observance. I am very sorry for poor
Sister M. Catherine (Chariel), but she ought to be faithful to the
exercises, in as much, at least, as depends on herself, by the exterior
observance of them, and she should refuse to consent to those evil
reflections, resisting them with the sword of the spirit. This much God
has put in our power, and never can we fall except by our own will. If
she is faithful to this, God will be satisfied, but she must submit
herself absolutely. I will write to her.

Be most careful to let no coolness exist between you and the Jesuit
Fathers, and give them no excuse for keeping away from you. Our Blessed
Father would not have approved of it. Soon, please God, you will see in
the Directory what he said to me at Lyons on this point. Recall them
gently, daughter, and give them your former confidence. Although the
good Father you mention did not take the matter rightly the Jesuits are
too wise and too good to keep up a grudge against us.

I think I know Père de Géney, if it is the same; he is a very good
Religious in whom you can confide. Converse in a trustful spirit with
them all, but above all with the Jesuits and their Rector. He spoke the
truth to you in saying that the Sisters are satisfied and feel the
improvement. Keep your courage ever higher, my most dear daughter, and
always, I beseech you, govern in a spirit of extreme gentleness. Look
sometimes at the advice I give to Superiors, and although I am worthless
Our Lord has allowed Himself to speak through me in this. May He be
blessed for ever!

If Sister M. Charlotte (de Feu) is eighteen or twenty let her in the
name of God follow the community, and if on that account she suffers
somewhat she will be very happy. At least do not let her be the judge of
her own needs, and she should submit herself to you. Give her plenty to
do, and then be at her side to help her. You ought not to have sent out
that letter that you did not understand, though it is true when written
to one of ourselves there is less danger.

Bear with the old woman, I beg of you, and you will gain her to God. I
rather prefer your writing during recreation than in the evening. I do
this, and in the midst of our Sisters. Get Sister Jeanne Charlotte or
someone else to help you in this, and write little except to our
monasteries; but you should read a good quarter of an hour every evening
after _Matins_, for this will be useful to you. We should wear ourselves
out in the service of our neighbour, and doing so we shall be happy.

Certainly, daughter, the dormitory ought not to be made into an
infirmary: if doing otherwise gives a little more trouble to the sisters
they will have all the more merit. Alas! my God, the poor have far more
than this to put up with. Our Blessed Father's maxim was to refuse no
inconvenience, and to ask for no relief, yet if relief was given him he
accepted it. Oh, daughter, great courage is needed to seek God alone,
bearing all for love of Him.

I am a little surprised to have no news of Sister Jeanne Charlotte, and
Sister Marie Aimée. Had I time I would send them a note to waken them
up, and assure them that I belong to them, but for this time give them
my message and tell them that I wrote to them when I was at Moulins the
last time, at least to the elder sister. May God in His goodness hold
you in His holy hand. I am devoted to you more than I could ever put
into words. God be Blessed!

I salute all our sisters, especially Sister Assistant, for whom I have a
great affection, but I wish she would write to me once more, then I
would answer her fully. It is because I have not had time that I have
not done so. God be Blessed!

P.S.--It has occurred to me that I ought to send you the first sheet of
the Directory--all that is yet out--in which is set down how the Office
ought to be performed on the great feasts of our Lord. His Lordship will
be satisfied at its being performed in this manner. The change must be
effected quietly and imperceptibly. Our Sisters are very much pleased
with it.

LIV. _To Sister Marie Marguerite Milletot at Dijon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1623.

Do not be astonished at seeing yourself surrounded by spiritual enemies;
only guard your heart so that they may not enter. But I know you would
die a thousand times over rather than let them do so. Remain then in
peace and patience, awaiting your deliverance by our good Saviour, and
He will free you sooner than you think. This trial is, dearest daughter,
hard to bear, but believe me if you had any other you would find it
equally so. This life is only given us to combat. Every one has his own
cross. Oh God! how heavy is the burden to me of my own extreme misery
and of my own infidelities! May the good God deliver me from myself! Be
brave, daughter dearest, he who does not conquer shall never be crowned.
I beseech the divine Goodness to strengthen you in this combat. Pray to
the good God for

                                    Your humble and unworthy Mother.

LV. _To Sister Françoise Gasparde de la Grave,[A] Assistant to the
Superior at Belley._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1623.

Do you know that these fears and self-torturings about your past
confessions are pure temptations of the devil? Make a firm stand and
take no heed of them, dear daughter, for the devil is only trying in his
malice to deceive you. Bear with his attacks and the suffering that
comes of them gently and humbly, submitting to the good pleasure of God,
who permits them to test your fidelity and confidence. Pay no regard to
anything the tempter suggests. Never let your mind argue about it; but
suffer it without yielding consent. Throw yourself upon the mercy of the
divine Mercy. Leave to it the care of your salvation and of everything
regarding you. Tell God that you have entire trust in His goodness, and
although it may seem to you that you have not any, never cease to assure
Him that you have, and always will have with the assistance of His
grace. This I command you to do. And bear patiently the burden without
desiring to be delivered from it; for that would be a brave sort of
virtue which never wished to be attacked, and a grand fidelity that
which would surrender at the first approach of the enemy! Remain firm
without wishing ever to confess past sins a second time, or ever
swerving from your duty of patience and confidence in God: and you will
see how God draws His glory and your good out of this temptation, for
which may He in His infinite goodness be blessed.


[A] Sister Françoise-Gasparde de la Grave, professed of the first
Monastery of Annecy in 1617, was specially loved and trained by St.
Francis de Sales, and always showed herself worthy of her great master.
She was chiefly remarkable for her calm and unalterable sweetness in the
midst of the contradictions of all kinds with which she was surrounded.
"My Blessed Father has taught me," she would say on such occasions,
"that the love of one's own abjection ought never to be one step distant
from our hearts." She was successively Superior at Belley, Bourges, and
Perigueux, from which last house she contributed to the foundation at
Tulle. Having governed the Monastery of Seyssel for three years, she
returned to the house of her profession, where she died in 1638. After
her decease they found she had carefully written down all the
humiliating things that had ever been said to her. On the corner of this
packet was written: "The enclosed are to perfume my heart with the
precious odour of humiliation."

LVI. _To Mgr. the Bishop of Autun._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1623.

I have heard of your kindness to our poor Sisters of Moulins in regard
to the difficulties they have had with their Foundress, and that by the
grace of God you and your Council, recognizing the true virtue and
uprightness of the Superior and of her Religious, gave them protection
and comfort in their extreme affliction. But, my Lord, from what I
learn, they at the present moment need more than ever your paternal
assistance, and I humbly beg your Lordship in the name of our good God
to help them. If, in order to restore tranquility in their monastery, it
is only necessary to return the money to our good Sister Foundress, so
that she may live elsewhere, certainly we shall be content to do so, for
we love better to live poorly and keep our observance than to abound in
riches and be thwarted in it. The Providence of God will never fail us
as long as we persevere in fidelity to His holy service; and our delight
is, under its protection, to live in poverty. See, my Lord, how I lay my
sentiments before you in all simplicity. If, however, our Sister the
Foundress continues to enjoy the happiness she possesses I shall rejoice
provided she content herself with the privileges which you, my Lord,
have either confirmed or granted her, and for the rest that she live as
is fitting to her condition.

Beseeching you my Lord, very humbly and with all earnestness to provide
help for these good servants of God, and trusting that through your
kindness and piety the divine mercy may come to their aid, I pray God to
spread in abundance His holy benedictions upon you and your Church.

                               I remain, with humble reverence, etc.

LVII. _To Sister Anne Marie Rosset, Assistant and Mistress of Novices at

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1623.

You know and you can never doubt how truly you are my dearest daughter.
Lay claim to this title more and more by your charity in praying for me.
Indeed, my daughter, this dear Mother (Favre) is a soul of true virtue.
She is all for God, for the Rule, and for me. I hope you will always
continue to feel that you have a faithful friend in her. The spirit of
religion and even religion itself is destroyed by preoccupation about
miserable human affections. If the intelligence of the Sisters be not
clouded by them nor by self-love they will see the guidance of God over
this soul, and through her over other souls, and will themselves be
established in solid virtue. Keep the spirit of your novices at a high
level and do it with vigour. Engrave in their hearts this maxim, that
the love of their divine Saviour is the only love for them, and that in
Him they must love their neighbour according to the order of duty and
true charity. Oh God! what should we seek on earth or aspire to in
heaven save Thee who art our portion and our eternal inheritance? My
daughter, a Religious of the Visitation who should attach herself to
anything whatsoever but God is not worthy of her vocation. Make this
very clear to our Sisters. Each one must have a holy zeal to attain
eternal life by the path which God has marked out for her. If our
Sisters really love their holy Founder they will prove it not only by
the attention and pleasure with which they read his writings, for all
the world delights in them, but also by faithfully carrying out his
teachings. That incomparable love and sweetness towards their neighbour,
that profound humility and lowliness of which he was so great a lover,
and which put him at enmity with all ostentation, should above all be
practised by them. Finally, let them make theirs the glorious gift he
enjoyed of devout attention to the presence of God.

My daughter, see that the spiritual exercises are held in great esteem
by the novices. Bring this about: for prayer, recollection, and frequent
ejaculatory prayer are the oil of benediction in monasteries. Give good
books to those dear novices to read, so that their minds may be filled
with profitable food wherewith to make useful reflection, and to
undeceive themselves as to the value of the false maxims of the world.
Make them value thoroughly the acts and exercises of their Directory, so
that their memory being well stored with spiritual things, and their
understanding well enlightened, our divine Master will (as I hope) soon
warm their wills with His holy love.

                                                       Your devoted.

LVIII. _To the Rev. Father Dom John de Saint François, General of the
Order of Feuillants._


Vive [+] Jésus!


Alas! my Rev. Father, you command me to do what is beyond my capacity.
The intimate knowledge that God has permitted me to acquire of the
interior life of my blessed Father and Lord, and especially that with
which He has favoured me since this holy man's decease (for the object
being present somewhat, it seems to me, obscured the light), is, I feel,
altogether beyond my deserts: and I confess to you quite frankly that I
have no facility whatever in expressing myself. Yet to obey your
Reverence and for the love and respect which I owe to the authority by
which you command, I will write what comes to my mind in all simplicity,
in the presence of God.

First, then, I have always observed in him the perfect gift of faith
accompanied with great clearness, certitude, perception, and extreme
suavity. It was a subject upon which he spoke admirably, and he once
told me that God had bestowed upon him much light and knowledge of the
mysteries of our holy faith, and he thought that he had a good grasp of
the correct interpretation of the Church's teachings to her children. To
this his life and writings bear witness.

God had so fully illuminated this holy soul, or, as he put it, shed so
clear a light in the highest point of his soul, that he had, so to say,
but to open the eyes of his spirit and the excellencies of the truths of
faith lay before him, and from this proceeded raptures, ecstacies, and
celestial ardours. He submitted himself to the truths thus unveiled to
him by a simple yielding up of his will, and the place wherein these
illuminations were centred he called "The Sanctuary of God." It was his
place of retreat, his every day abode, for notwithstanding continual
exterior occupation he held his spirit in this interior solitude as much
as was possible. The one longing, the sole aspiration and desire of this
holy man, it always seemed to me, was to live by faith and according to
the maxims of the Gospel. He used to say that the true way to serve God
was to follow Him and walk in His footsteps by the pure light of grace,
without the support of consolations, of feeling, of light, other than
that of bare faith, and for this reason he valued derelictions,
desolation, and dryness of spirit. He never stopped, he said, to think
whether or no he had consolations, and that if Our Lord sent them he
received them in simplicity; if they were not given him he made no
reflections about their loss. But as a matter of fact he usually had
great sensible sweetness, as was betrayed by his countenance, however
slightly he withdrew into himself, which he was in the habit of doing.
Thus did he draw good out of all things, turning all to the profit of
his soul. The time of preparation for his sermons, which he usually
spent walking about, was one of special illumination for him. Study, he
said, provided him with prayer, and he came from it enlightened and full
of holy affections.

Several years ago he told me that he had no sensible devotion in prayer,
and that God operated in him without feeling, but by sentiments and
illuminations, which were diffused in the intellectual part of his soul,
the inferior part having no share therein. These were for the most part
perceptions and sensibilities of simple unity and heavenly emotions
which he did not try to fathom: for his practice was to hold himself in
humility and lowliness before God with the trustful reverence of a
loving child.

When writing to me he has often asked me to remind him when we met to
tell me what God had given him in prayer. When I did so he would say,
"These things are so impalpable, so pure, so intangible, that one cannot
explain them when they have passed, only their effects remain in the

For several years before his decease there was left him little leisure
for prayer, as business overwhelmed him, and one day when I asked him
if he had any time for prayer, he said: "No, but I do what is the same."
In such wise he held himself always united to God, saying that in this
life work and labour are prayer. And most certainly his life was a
continual prayer. Though, from what has been said, it is easy to believe
that the delightful union of his soul with God in prayer was not his
only enjoyment. Oh! indeed it was not, for however the will of God was
presented to him he equally loved it. And in his last years he had, I
believe, attained such purity in his love that all things were the same
to him so long as he saw God's will in them. There was nothing in the
world, as he used to say, that could give him any satisfaction out of
God. Thus he lived, as was manifest to those who knew him, no more in
himself but truly Jesus Christ lived in him. This universality in his
love of the will of God was the more excellent and the purer by reason
of the clear light which God diffused in his soul, and because of it his
soul was neither subject to change nor to deception, and by it he
perceived in himself the first movements of self-love which he
faithfully suppressed the more perfectly to be united to God. He told
me, that, sometimes in the depth of his greatest afflictions, he felt
consolations beyond comparison more sweet than at ordinary times, for by
means of this intimate union with God things most bitter became to him
most sweet.

But, if your Reverence wishes to see clearly the state of this holy
soul on these points, read, if you please, the three or four last
chapters in the "Divine Love."[B] All his actions were animated with the
sole motive of pleasing God, and truly (as he says in this sacred book)
he asked nought of heaven nor of earth but to see the will of God
accomplished. How many times has he not repeated over to me those words
of David: "O! Lord, what have I in heaven, and besides Thee what do I
desire on earth? Thou art my portion and my eternal inheritance." He
lived on the principle that what was not God was nothing to him. His
eminent virtue and that universal indifference which was remarked in him
by all were the product of this perfect union. I never read those
chapters which treat of it in the ninth book of "Divine Love" without
seeing clearly that as occasions arose he practised what he taught.

That admirable but little known maxim, _Ask for nothing, desire nothing,
refuse nothing_, which he faithfully carried out to the very end of his
life, could not originate with one who was not entirely indifferent and
dead to self. In regard to his actions such incomparable equality of
mind did he possess that there was no changeableness in his attitude. He
unquestionably felt keen resentment when subjected to rudeness or
insult, above all when God was offended, or his neighbour oppressed; but
on such occasions, as is mentioned in his memoirs, he exercised complete
self-control and would retire into himself with God and remain silent.
Yet he none the less set to work, and that promptly, to remedy the evil,
for he was the refuge, the succour, the support of all.

Because he had acquired a perfect mastery of his passions, there reigned
in his soul complete submission to God, and in his heart an
imperturbable peace. "What is there that could disturb our peace?" he
said to me at Lyons. "When all is in confusion around me it does not
trouble me, for what is all the world besides in comparison with peace
of heart?" This power was the outcome of his intense and virile faith,
for he regarded all things, the least and the greatest, as ordained by
that divine Providence in which he reposed with more tranquility than a
child on its mother's bosom. He used to say that Our Lord taught him
this lesson from his youth, and that if he could be born again he would
despise human prudence more than ever, and would let himself be still
more entirely governed by divine Providence. He had very great
illumination on this subject, and conveyed it forcibly to the souls he
counselled and governed. All the undertakings God committed to him he
placed under the protection of this supreme government, and never was he
more certain of an affair or more content amidst vicissitudes than when
he had no other support than God. On the contrary, when human prudence
foresaw the impossibility of the execution of a design his firm
confidence in God alone remained unshaken. Therefore did he live without
solicitude. I remarked this to him when he had made up his mind to
establish our Congregation, and he replied: "I have no light as to how
to do it, but I am sure that God will do it"; and so it came about, and
that far more quickly than he anticipated. Speaking of this confidence
in God, I remember once many years ago, when attacked with a violent
temptation, which he bravely resisted, he wrote to me: "I feel very much
under its pressure. It seems to me that I have no strength to resist and
that I should succumb if the occasion were presented to me, but the
weaker I feel the more do I trust in God, and I assure myself that were
the object to present itself, I should be invested with the power of
God, and that my enemies would be as lambkins before me."

Our Saint was not exempt from the stirrings of passions nor did he wish
nor think it desirable to be so. Except for the purpose of governing and
checking them, which he said gave him pleasure, they were disregarded by
him; and he looked upon them as excellent opportunities for practising
virtue and establishing it more solidly in the soul. His own were so
absolutely under his control that they obeyed him as slaves, and in the
end hardly showed themselves at all. His was a manifestly bold and
generous soul, very dear Father, strong to bear burdens and
responsibilities and to carry out the undertakings with which God
inspired him. Nothing, as he said, could induce him to abandon these;
not an inch would he abate, and he had a courage that conquered all

Certainly such perseverance as his, required wonderful strength of mind,
for who has ever seen him out of humour, or losing one iota of
self-control? Who has ever seen his patience ruffled or his soul
embittered against any one whomsoever? and all because he had a
guileless heart.

That he was gentle, humble, and gracious none could fail to remark. His
mind was clearer, freer, and broader than any other I have come in
contact with; the prudence and the wisdom natural and supernatural with
which God had endowed him were excellent and solid.

Our Lord indeed forgot nothing in perfecting His work. "Charity," as he
says, "entering into a soul brings with it every other virtue sweetly
and unostentatiously in the degree and measure by which charity animated
it." He made no mysteries, and did nothing that might excite admiration;
there was no singularity about him, no display of great virtue to exalt
him in the eyes of the vulgar. He walked the common way, but in so
supernatural a manner that it seemed to me that of all to be admired in
his life this was the most admirable trait. He had no affected ways,
neither casting up his eyes nor closing them, but he kept them modestly
lowered and made no unnecessary gestures. His face, passive, sweet, and
grave, portrayed the profound tranquility within.

Whoever observed his outward bearing was unfailingly impressed. Whether
at prayer, reciting the office, or saying Mass, his countenance shone
with angelic splendour, but it was above all at the consecration of the
Mass that it seemed to radiate. This has been remarked to me a thousand
times. He had a special devotion to this adorable Sacrament. It was his
true life, his sole strength, and when carrying it in Procession he
looked like one on fire with love. As his outpourings of love when
before the Divine Sacrament, and his wonderful devotion to our Lady are
treated of elsewhere I will not speak of them here.

Oh, how worthy of admiration was the order with which God had endowed
this blessed soul! so much was it under the control of reason, so calm,
and so lucid the light shed by God within it that absolutely nothing
passed therein that was hidden from him.

So clear was his view in regard to perfection of spirit that he could
distinguish between the most subtle and intangible sensibilities, and
never willingly would he tolerate the less perfect in his soul; his
burning love could not suffer it. It was not that he did not commit some
imperfections, but they were always from frailty or pure surprise, and I
never knew him to leave in his heart one single attachment, however
small, that was contrary to perfection. Purer than the sun, whiter than
the snow in every act, resolve, and desire, he was united to God not
only by his purity, but in humility and simplicity.

To hear him speak of God and of perfection was a delight, for his terms
were precise and intelligible, so that they easily brought home to the
understanding the high and subtle points of the spiritual life and this
great gift he used for the guidance of souls. Reading the depths of
their hearts and clearly seeing the motives from which they acted, he
guided and governed them with a skill other than that of this world. His
indefatigable charity for souls is well known, and the incomparable
delight with which he laboured amongst sinners, never resting till he
had put the conscience in peace and set the soul on its way to heaven.
What care did he not bestow upon the weak and repentant sinner, making
himself one with him, weeping together with him over his sins, and
becoming so one in heart with his penitent that none could conceal
anything from him.

Zeal for the salvation of souls was, I consider, his dominant virtue,
and in a sense it may be said that he preferred the service of his
neighbour, for whom he wore himself out, to the immediate service of
God. His charity was regulated in a remarkable manner, for he loved the
many souls for whom he had a special regard, and they were great in
number, not equally yet perfectly, and purely, recognizing the most
estimable virtue and the measure of grace in each and giving it place
accordingly in his regard. While to all he bore the utmost respect
because he saw God in his neighbour and him in God, yet his humility
never prevented him from reverencing the dignity of his position as
Bishop, and with what gravity and majesty he bore himself in it.

I now venture to repeat what so many persons have said to me--that when
they saw this man it seemed to them that they looked upon Our Lord on
earth. And to me he always appeared the living picture in which the Son
of God, Our Lord, was portrayed, for most truly the order and economy of
his soul was divine.

                   I remain, my Reverend Father,
                      Your very humble, obedient, and unworthy
                          daughter and servant in Our Lord,
                                    SISTER JANE FRANCES FRÉMYOT
                                 (_Of the Visitation of Holy Mary_).


[A] This letter is taken from "Sainte Jeanne-Françoise Frémyot de
Chantal: Sa Vie et ses Oeuvres," Vol. II.

[B] The treatise on the Love of God.

LIX. _To a Religious of the First Monastery of the Visitation at Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1625.

The wings of this little butterfly that thrusts itself out into the
light before its time need to be clipped; otherwise it will come to
destruction. And in like manner, my daughter, as soon as you perceive
your mind taking these high flights you must bring it down to the foot
of the crucifix by a profound but gentle act of humility, holding
yourself there all confused and abashed. Your doing this will put an end
to the trouble. Walk simply, my daughter, and you will walk happily.
Crush self-love, stamp it out; and with it self-esteem. Let true
humility take its place, that humility which always and in all
circumstances aims at oblivion and at being under the feet of all. This
lesson is a difficult one, but God invites you to the practice of it.
Follow His will and His example and He will lead you on until you attain
that perfection to which His Providence has called you. Strive to keep
your thoughts off yourself, and never scrutinize what is passing within
you. Let this truth dwell in your heart and have it always before your
mind that whatever little good there may be in you is from God, and that
therefore you have no right to take pride in it, nor to think any the
better of yourself because of it. Remember that of yourself you are mere
nothingness, possessing only the abjection of your sins and of your
countless imperfections. And bearing this in mind, welcome contempt and
all that kills pride. Make use for this end of that thought of yours
that the Sisters may very justly think you to be full of self-love and
self-esteem, or of any other such humiliating reflection. Desire to be
employed in low and abject things. Not that you should seek them, but
that you be always disposed willingly to accept them. Beg your good
Mother to help you to acquire this dear virtue of humility, without,
however, asking for anything in particular; for to choose would spoil
everything. If you do all this you will find the source of true life,
and if you do it not, you will never have any peace nor be able to
correspond to your vocation and to the designs of God over you. I
beseech His Goodness to grant you this precious grace.

                                                         Yours, etc.

LX. _To the Countess de Toulonjon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     CHAMBÉRY, 1625.

Not as soon as I thought, my dearest daughter, shall we have the
pleasure of seeing Mgr. of Bourges, and indeed it will be a very great
pleasure. Ever since he was cured of his illness and received the other
graces which Our Lord has bestowed upon him I feel drawn to him by a
peculiar appreciation: and neither do I wish to cease, nor can I cease,
from praising and thanking our good God for His great mercy to him.
Although he frequently writes to me he has made no allusion in any of
his letters to what you tell me he has done for my son.[A] I will speak
to him about it when I have the honour of meeting him, and see if I
cannot have the good fortune of obtaining from him something to your
advantage. He always appears to me to have a great affection for you,
but I do not think he has much in the way of temporal goods beyond the
furniture of his house. However, I know little about this. But my good
and dearest daughter, even if this good lord has altogether forgotten
you, why on that account give way to sorrow and resentment? Oh! cease to
do so, my daughter, for you might offend God by it. You are too much
attached to the things of this life and take them too much to heart.
What have you to fear? Is it that the fact of having so many children
deprives you of the means of providing for and educating them according
to their birth and your ambition? Have no such apprehensions, I beg of
you, for in this you wrong the Providence of Him who gives them to you,
and who is good enough and rich enough to nourish them and provide for
them as is expedient to His glory and their salvation. That is all that
we should desire for our children, and not look for worldly prosperity
in this miserable and mortal life.

Now my dearest daughter, lovingly look upon all these little creatures
as entrusted to you by God, who has given them to you; care for them,
cherish them tenderly, and bring them up not in vanity, but faithfully
in the fear of God. So doing, and trustfully leaving all these anxieties
of yours to divine Providence, you will see how sweetly and tenderly it
will provide for all, so that you will have good reason to bless and
rely wholly upon it. Take my advice, dearest daughter, and cast yourself
into these safe arms: serve God, cast aside vanity, live in perfect
harmony with him whom God has given you, interest yourself in the good
government of your household, be active and diligent in applying
yourself to that work, and begin from this time forth to live after the
manners and customs of a true mother. If I had not had the courage to do
this from the beginning in my married life we should not have had the
means of livelihood, for we had a smaller income than you have and were
fifteen thousand crowns in debt. Be brave then, dearest daughter; employ
your time and your mind not in worrying and being anxious about the
future, but in serving God and your household, for such is the divine
will. Act thus, and you will see how blessings will attend your
undertakings. I feel that I am bound to speak thus fully and openly to
you, and I hope that you will profit by what I say, for I say it with
much love and with a great desire for your good; and that you will often
read over this letter and put its contents in practice. May God grant
you this grace, and may His Goodness pour abundantly upon you and your
dear family His choicest blessings. I cordially salute them all.

You know, dearest child, how you are my very own and most dear daughter,
and that I am your very humble mother, most lovingly desirous of your
true happiness.


[A] Madame de Toulonjon having learnt that her uncle, the Archbishop of
Bourges, had made his will in favour of her brother, the Baron de
Chantal, and left her out, was deeply wounded at this proceeding, and
when writing to her holy Mother had justified herself for her anxieties
by alleging the obligation to provide for the future of her children.

LXI. _To Sister Anne Catherine de Sautereau, Mistress of Novices at

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1626.

I will do as you desire and in God's presence will write what He in His
Goodness inspires me to say. I am praying that I may do this. First,
then, it seems to me, my daughter, that in your devotion you should
strive to be generous, noble, frank and sincere, and build upon a
groundwork of profound humility which engenders true obedience, sweet
charity, and that artless simplicity that makes us amiable to every one
alike, bearing with and excusing all. Try to instil this same spirit
into your novices and into all the souls that God may at any time put
under your care.

On the other hand, dearest daughter, you must leave yourself wholly in
the hands of God, so that your dear soul and the souls of those you
guide, may be, as far as you can make them, independent of all that is
not God; aiming straight and with such singleness of purpose that
friendships, looks, words may never be wasted in frivolous amusement
with creatures. By walking in the perfect way of exact observance of the
rules of the Institute, all impediments are left behind on the road and
not given a thought; for in all things the eye of God only, that is, His
divine good pleasure, is considered. This is a road without bypaths,
daughter, but it is solid, short, simple, and safe, and by it the soul
quickly attains to a rare union with God which is her end. Let us then
faithfully pursue this way. Truly it cuts short multiplicity and leads
us to that unity which is the one thing necessary. I know that you are
attracted to this happiness. Give yourself up to it, then, and you will
repose quite at your ease in the bosom of divine Providence; for souls
who cast aside every aim and end but that of pleasing God are bound to
dwell in peace in this tabernacle.

Abraham (I do love this patriarch) left his country and his family to
obey God, but, my daughter dearest, the only Son of God accomplished the
will of His heavenly Father by remaining in the country of his birth and
working there.[A] Be satisfied, then, to imitate the Saviour, for no
perfection can equal His. And do not look elsewhere, but apply yourself
with diligence to do lovingly and cheerfully the works that Providence
and obedience put into your hands. The chief exercises of the novitiate
are mortification and prayer. I have said enough, and perhaps too much,
to one whom God Himself enlightens and directs. I pray His Goodness to
bring your spirit to the perfection of His most pure love. Your soul is
endeared to me more than I can tell you. Rest assured of this and pray
for her who is wholly yours in Our Lord. God be praised!


[A] Sister Anne Catherine de Sautereau was a native of Grenoble.

LXII. _To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior of the First
Monastery of Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     _Jan. 6, 1626._

Praise be to our Good God! I assure you, my very dear daughter, that it
has been a great consolation to me to read your letter and to see the
state of your good heart, in which I perceive the divine Goodness
diffuses many holy and profitable lights which you turn to good account.
These thoughts are worthy of being noted; they are beautiful, and are
great graces from the divine mercy. And so is this diversity of states
in which you continually find yourself, for it holds the soul more
detached and more simply united to its God in whom all its happiness
consists. I see also that suffering is not wanting to you. Suffering is
the crucible in which Our Lord wishes entirely to purify you. Your
interior correspondence ought wholly to consist in a simple handing over
of yourself, in a complete self-surrender; then for the exterior,
humility, submissiveness and meekness. And I beseech you, even if
interior lights superabound, not to fail to seek counsel, preferring the
opinions of others to your own, in as far as it is possible. This is one
of the chief fruits of that most holy humility which should inspire all
our actions. Indeed, had your letter been as long again it would only
have been all the more welcome to me. May God give me the grace to draw
profit from it! Although in my unworthiness I cannot walk by so high and
excellent a way, still, I hope that it will do me good.

I am very glad that you have received those two good subjects, and I
thank you with all my heart for our little Adrienne. It is quite true
that our dear Mgr. Bourges grows daily in piety and devotion, which,
methinks, must be real because there is so much humility, meekness of
heart, and detachment from the things of earth about it. We shall pray
very specially for good M. de N. He is a person whom I always look up
to, and so I do to the Rev. Father Superior. I send them both my
respectful salutations. Hold yourself very humble, my dearest daughter,
and think yourself very unworthy of the graces of God: for this little
holding back will draw them on you all the more. I pray His Goodness
daily to increase these graces in your soul, which I love more than I
can express.

LXIII. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _28th Jan., 1626._

I see quite well, good dear daughter, that nothing will satisfy that
heart of yours unless you make clear to me the holy affection it has for
my miserable little heart, and I reciprocate your love to a degree that
I cannot express. Oh God! what will it be to love each other with a love
that is ever present and beyond all earthly love, for such is the gift
the great Lover of our souls will bestow on us! Let us try, my daughter,
to grow in this divine love from moment to moment. Alas! I desire it,
but you--you possess it. For this may God be praised and also for the
good order of your house, which our dear Father M. Vincent[A] tells me
is a matter worthy of great thanksgiving and consolation.

Believe me, it is a true delight to me to know that our Rules are so
faithfully kept. Now observe from this how Mother Superiors should see
that the Rule is carried out in regard to Ecclesiastical Superiors, and
how the Mothers themselves should faithfully observe what is prescribed
for them, so that by example we may instruct and strengthen those whom
God has committed to our care. Pray continually, I beg of you, for our
dear Father, Dom Juste, and for the affair of the Beatification of our
Blessed Father. Our Holy Father the Pope has issued a Decree about
beatifications which causes me some apprehension.[B] But in all things
we must conform our wills to that of God.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] St. Vincent de Paul.

[B] The fears of St. Jane Frances were not without cause, for the
popular enthusiasm occasioned by the many miracles wrought through the
intercession of the holy Bishop resulted in many _ex voto_ offerings and
much public worship being paid to his remains, all of which was
forbidden by the Decree, pending the decision of the Church.

LXIV. _Mother Marie Adrienne Fichet, Superior at Rumilly._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1626.

The letters I receive from your Sisters Councillors are the greatest
comfort to me, for they bear witness to the union and content that
reigns between you and them. If you practice all you teach, there is
every reason that this should not only continue but increase. Let the
old feel that you are satisfied with them, treating them with cordial
love, respect and confidence. Be one in heart with them as true sisters
ought to be; for although they should honour and obey you as their
Mother, still, you ought to treat them as sisters and companions. And to
the young be as a benign mother with her daughters, not pressing them
too much unless it be to encourage them in a loving way. What I am
writing is in reference to your last letter, in which you tell me that
you often say they must be open with you. My dear daughter, you must
lead them to this openness by kindness and encouragement; for the spirit
of the Visitation is one of gentleness, and this must be preserved at
all costs, else yours would not be a Visitation house even though all
the rest of the Rules should be observed, for this, the most important
of our characteristics would be wanting. Let then this holy gentleness
with every one be your chief care. Retiring and tranquil in all your
undertakings, carry them out prudently so that God may be glorified by
your intercourse with those outside the monastery and by the sweetness
of your government with those within. You are aware that your natural
disposition needs bridling and that you must keep it in check. Do this
then for God and you will receive all manner of graces. Keep near the
good God and read carefully your Rules, for He wishes that in the charge
He has committed to you you should become a living Rule, to His
sovereign glory.

I had not thought of saying all this to you, but as I write God has put
it into my mind. Profit by it then, my very dear daughter, and let this
letter serve you for a long time and for always, as I am sure my good
Angel and yours have dictated it. If you saw my heart and its keen
affection for your welfare, you would indeed love me.

For the rest, his Lordship bids me take our Sisters into Lorraine. If I
can manage it, and that he approves, I'll go a little out of my way to
see you. I send you some relics of our holy Father. Madame Garbillon
seems inclined to take her daughter to you herself after Easter. There
are still plenty of others, but we shall try to send you those who are
fairly well off. However, you will be obliged to floor your dormitory in
order to accommodate so many subjects. See to this in good time so as to
have in the necessary planks and wood. Also have the garden wall raised
a little. This, and the well, is, in my opinion, all you need.

I cannot express to you, my dearest daughter, how I love your little
house. In it may God make you worthy to serve Him and all your dear
daughters perfectly, not forgetting the good and dear Sister de la
Fléchère, who has lodged us so comfortably. Show her much affection and
comfort her with all simplicity and confidence. The poor woman needs it,
for she is in great trouble about her affairs. Good-bye, dearest

                                          Yours most affectionately.

Pray for me that I may do God's holy will. Amen.

P.S.--I must add this word. Study meekness and humble gravity. I beg it
of you. The Chapter on Religious Modesty, well practised, will give you
this grace.

LXV. _To the Sisters of the Visitation._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1626.

I present to you, in all the sincerity of my heart, the directions and
customs which have been established in this monastery by our late holy
Father and Founder, having arranged them in what seemed to me the most
convenient form for their preservation. And I have added, following his
injunctions, some things which he had written with his own hand, and
others, which he had marked, but had not yet written.

The majority of the Sisters who have known him are aware, as I am, that
it was his wish that these Directories, Ceremonials, and Customs should,
in the future, be for ever observed in all our monasteries of the
Visitation, in order, permanently, to keep up the union and conformity
which until now has existed between them and the first monastery. To
further this end, it has been my desire, by means of the first Sisters
of our holy Order and of the entire Chapter here, to make them known, so
that with me they may bear witness, to those who succeed us, that they
are the same Directories, Ceremonials, Customs, and Ordinances which
were established in this monastery of Annecy by our said holy Founder,
and that they have been observed by these first Sisters, and by all the
Communities which they governed, in as far as they have been
communicated to them. But because it has pleased divine Providence to
confer on me, though so unworthy, the honour, grace and happiness of
being one of the first sisters employed in beginning this most admirable
and holy manner of life, our holy Father and Founder has instructed me
and them with peculiar care. Therefore, dearest Sisters, I think it will
not be distasteful to you if I exhort you to be faithful to the
observance of things which have been recommended for the welfare of our
souls with such tender love and zeal. Nor do I think you will gainsay my
recalling you to some notable points to which I know he specially wished
that we should adhere.

This I do in true affection, for, to me they sum up all that is
necessary for us and nothing more is needed by us. His great fear, our
Blessed Father told me, was lest we should not thoroughly devote
ourselves to the practice of the Rule. And I, also fearing this, pray
God that our very apprehension may make us all the more faithful to our
observance. "The precepts," he said, "of all virtue and perfection are
contained in our Rules and Constitutions." Oh, how true this is! For if
we have but one heart in God, if we honour Him in the person of one
another; if we are simple, humble, chaste, poor, retiring, and all else
that is prescribed, shall we not fulfil all perfection? Again, he said
that our Institute teaches us sufficiently what to do, and our part is
to do it. Let us, then, labour, I beseech you, very dear Sisters, with
our whole hearts, whether it be in obeying or in commanding, to become
living Rules, not according to our own human wisdom and prudence, but
according to what is set down, practising it, exactly and punctually, to
the letter, without gloss or comment; and let us rather die than under
any pretext whatsoever depart from this holy way.

The peculiar obedience we owe their Lordships, our prelates, is a
special virtue of our Institute. They ought to be its protectors and
consequently cannot command us anything at variance with it. Many a time
has our Blessed Father exhorted us to be on our guard against opening
the door to any change, for with it all will go. Not even in things of
small importance would he have us yield, for little changes open the way
to greater, and if we want to keep intact what we have received, and
what has been so wisely instituted, we must change nothing. Old
established customs, though but mediocre, are better than new ones that
appear to us more desirable. Above all he charged Superiors to take heed
to this, and insisted that the good or evil estate of their monasteries
rests in their hands; that care and attention to their duty should, in
them, be universal; that they ought not to neglect even the most
insignificant points; and said that their love, cordial support, and
zeal for the perfection of the Sisters in exact observance would make
their monasteries abodes of happiness, and preserve their Institute. We
must aspire, then, to nothing more and to nothing less than what is
prescribed for us. All these words of Our Blessed Father should be
engraven on our hearts and practised literally. If, however, times and
places demonstrate the necessity of accommodating in some point, and the
change affects in no way the Rules, Constitutions, and Customs essential
to the conformity of the convents, such change can be made. But we
should first consult the Spiritual Father, some capable and pious
persons, and the old established monasteries of the Order, above all
Annecy, which latter, after having maturely considered the proposition,
should confer with the monastery of Lyons, so that the changes
introduced may not be made lightly, nor except when of great utility for
the welfare of the monasteries and in cases of evident necessity.
Another grave fear entertained by Our Blessed Father was, lest the
spirit of worldly prudence and wisdom should glide in amongst us. Here
also then should we be on our guard, for it would be our ruin; above all
if it crept in in regard to the election of Mother Superiors and of
those Sisters who have the chief charges in the monasteries. Most
careful and conscientious should the Sisters be on this point, never
receiving any Superior but her whom they themselves have elected; for
this the Rule commands. Make no account on these occasions of certain
natural or acquired talents, of the gift of speaking well, of fine
presence, of certain attractive qualities, of brightness of manner, of
nobility, or of many years of priority in age or in Religion, nor of
such qualities which if they be not accompanied with what is solid,
should not be considered by us. Rather let us choose those who have
discretion and good judgement, who are simple, sincere, humble, who have
zeal for the observance. Not those who abound in their own sense, for
such as are affected with this malady usually discredit the spirit of
religion in order to introduce their own. We should employ those who do
not seek the higher charges, judging themselves unworthy of any.

Such sisters will do admirably all that obedience orders and the spirit
of God will govern in them. Believe me, this point is of great
importance, my dearest Sisters. Be faithful to it, then, I beg of you.

In the same way must we dread human prudence and human considerations in
the reception of subjects (the good choice of which is essential for the
preservation of the Institute); above all of subjects who are infirm or
defective in body. You will tell me that this has been so often
recommended in our writings that there is no need for me to speak of it
here. Yes, this is true, yet I cannot refrain from repeating myself,
because I see that this article on the reception of those who have some
bodily defect is often combated by wise persons, and is quite contrary
to natural prudence, which sometimes furnishes so many good reasons that
poor charity has trouble enough to hold herself above it. Wherefore, to
observe this point intact we need great courage, and we should often
call to mind that it is the end of our Institute, and the desire of
desires of our holy Institutor, as is shown by his warning to those who
infringe it. And see how by this law he has provided us with a means of
practising the two cherished virtues of our Congregation to which he so
constantly exhorted us: gentle charity towards our neighbour, and love
of our own humiliation. All that can help us to gain these virtues ought
to be very dear to us, since they are the foundation and mainstay of
the whole spiritual edifice of the Visitation. Let us then cleave to
them, humbling ourselves more and more, so that we may accept lovingly
and with a welcome all that is abject in the eyes of the world. Thus may
we esteem ourselves very poor and little in comparison to others,
desiring no other excellence than not to excel, depending wholly on the
good pleasure of God, seeking in all things only His glory, for this, as
you know, is the characteristic of the daughters of the Visitation. Oh!
my dearest daughters, how we should prize it! It is the one thing worth
caring about. For the love of God, let us preserve it in its entirety,
and beware of the desire of excelling and of self-esteem, which would
rob us of it. Continually bear in mind all that our Blessed Father has
both left us in his writings and said to us on this subject, so that our
undertakings may be adorned with this holy virtue. I shudder as I write
and cannot keep back my tears from the fear that some day this spirit
will be lessened or lost. Oh my God! permit not this, but rather let our
Institute cease to be. My Sisters, I entreat you to be faithful. When I
recall the labours, cares, and pains through which our holy Founder
established and confirmed us as we now are, and his intense desire that
this spirit should continue unimpaired, I feel that I would willingly
give my life to preserve it. With all the strength of my soul then I
say: Be jealous of it, for it is the supreme means of drawing down upon
us the grace of God, in whose hands Our Blessed Father has left us with
the assurance that within the paternal Arms of the sovereign Providence
of God we shall never lack grace to maintain our Institute in its first
fervour, provided we are faithful to its spirit.

When at Lyons he gave me the good and solid reasons on which he had
formed his final resolve to leave us under the authority of their
Lordships the prelates. He added, with a deep and humble sense of
confidence: "Jesus Christ will be your Head and your Protector--the
happiness of your Congregation will not depend on being placed under the
government of one Superior, but on the fidelity of each Sister
individually, and of all together, to unite themselves to God by an
exact and punctual observance." These are very consoling and striking
words, full of faith as they are. I am aware that they are in the Book
of Customs, yet I feel impelled to quote them again here, for I should
like to write them in a hundred places, and above all in the depths of
your hearts. We should look upon them as the last will and testament of
our holy Founder, and by faithful practice keep them inviolably. In them
we shall find our happiness and the one and only means of preserving
untarnished the spirit of our Institute, which is a spirit strong and
finely tempered. By means of them shall we also learn how to hide
ourselves and how to dwell in peace in the paternal bosom of our good
God, humbly trusting that these his words will produce deeds. So we must
not be anxious, no matter what happens to us, but remain ever tranquil,
striving with the assistance of divine grace not to philosophize on what
may never come about. For our Blessed Father said to me: "To maintain
our Congregation we may search in vain amongst human means for any
better way than our Rule."

He likewise told me that he intended to put things still more plainly,
so as to secure that unity and conformity amongst the monasteries and
that spirit of humility, with all of which God had already so abundantly
blessed them; for he longed above all things that they should continue
as they are. He ordered me to see that, to the permissions for
foundations given by the Bishops, the article on "Foundations" which is
in the Book of Customs should be added. The principal exterior means
that he judged suitable for keeping up union was conformity to and
correspondence with Annecy in everything regarding the complete
observance received from him. "Although," he said, "it is established in
a small town, it has nevertheless been the will of divine Providence
that the germ of the Congregation of the Visitation should be formed
there, and there receive its law and foundations." Wherefore the other
monasteries of the Visitation are always to acknowledge the house of
Annecy as their mother and source, and maintain with it the closest
union of charity, conforming themselves entirely to it, having
particular intercourse with it, and referring to it in order to be
instructed in the doubts and difficulties which may arise in practising
the Rule and Customs. Such, I assure you with entire truthfulness, was
his express wish, and he informed me of it in a manner full of
graciousness and wisdom. Conformity to his wishes, and likewise the
happiness which this monastery possesses in being the depository of his
holy body, will always induce the other houses to keep up an
affectionate union with us here. And as he asked this on your parts so
did he desire that Annecy should make you all a return of unstinted
service, giving both materially and of its members with a great zeal and
a large-hearted affection, while keeping up the observance even to the
most minute regulations conscientiously and exactly, so that here it may
be always found practised in its pristine vigour and integrity.

I must not omit to repeat these words of his, also said to me at Lyons:
"It is by a special providence of God that the Jesuit Fathers have so
great an affection and charity for us. We should value this and return
it, holding them in singular respect and giving them our confidence, for
they will be a great help to us. It is not, however, necessary so to
attach ourselves to their Order as to lose our liberty, for this we must
jealously guard. Neither should it prevent us from union with other
Orders with which we ought to keep in touch, for our Congregation should
have a universal spirit"; and again: "I do not mean that those who
counsel our Sisters are to change their exercises or their manner of
carrying them out, for there must be no change, and in this they must be

Such is almost word for word what I learned from his lips, and to know
his will is sufficient, I feel assured, in the goodness of your hearts,
to render you docile to it. For me, it but remains to urge you to this,
not only exteriorly, but what is of far more consequence, interiorly, in
the spirit, to be cordial, gentle, humble, artless, poor with a poverty
which keeps us to a holy medium in everything, avoiding superfluities
and all that savours of ostentation. To all this I affectionately
entreat you with all the earnestness of which I am capable. I cannot
truly bring my letter to a close without congratulating this dear
convent of Annecy on the privileges and graces with which eternal
Providence has been pleased to favour it in rendering it lovable and
worthy of respect to all the other houses, for where will true daughters
of this Order be found who hold it not in high esteem and who envy it
not its privileges, above all that of being the dear guardians of the
sacred body of its Founder?--verily, a most precious grace, for which it
ought unceasingly to offer the sacrifice of praise to the divine
Majesty. But, my very dear daughters, what, think you, ought to be this
sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for so great a benefit? None other
surely than the constant and persevering offering of a very exact and
holy observance to all contained in the Institute, so that it will
always there be found practised in its perfect vigour and integrity.
See, my dear daughters, to what our birthright obliges us.

Let us then remain very humble, very poor in our own esteem, and in holy
fear before God, showing our appreciation of the dignity conferred upon
us not by esteeming ourselves above others, which would but turn to harm
the priceless gifts we possess, but rather by being the most humble, the
most lowly, the most faithful of all.

May God grant us this grace! Amen.

May I venture to add a very humble prayer to our Sisters the Superiors,
that they will keep in mind this word of the Rule: "Let us be before God
under the feet of all our Sisters"? Ah! my God, if we treat them so, if
we love our Sisters with a truly maternal love, which is solicitous,
vigilant, zealous for the welfare of its children; if we govern them not
according to our own views we shall draw upon our family all manner of
blessings. Let them feel that you have a mother's heart and solicitude
for them, keeping their minds tranquil and contented, and you can do
what you like with them.

All I have said above, very dear Sisters, I have said solely moved by
love and desire. I reiterate it all with the most emphatic and tender
entreaties from the depth of my heart. All our happiness is shut up in
it. We are obliged to it by vow. It is our way of perfection of which we
shall have to render an account at the hour of death. Think well on

I pray the divine Goodness, through the intercession of His Holy Mother
and of our Blessed Father, to pour on you all the abundant treasures of
His grace, so that generously and cheerfully you may continue to walk on
this road, gaining by it the fullness of all perfection in this life and
in the next the prize of a blessed eternity.

Pardon the great length of this letter and its confidences, and obtain
from the divine Mercy eternal salvation for her who wishes you God's
best graces in abundance and who is, with unbounded affection,

                                                    Devotedly yours.


[A] Saint Jane Frances originally intended this letter to serve as a
Preface to the Book of Customs, but deeming that she had spoken with too
much authority therein, and also in order not to give any pretext for
the calumnies of those who accused her of desiring to pose as General of
her Order, the holy foundress kept back its publication, and never in
her lifetime gave it to the Institute. Amongst her sisters she would not
accept any other title than that of Eldest Daughter of the Family.

LXVI. _To Sister Anne Marie de Lage de Puylaurens, Assistant and
Mistress of Novices at Bourges._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1626.

God has indeed favoured you in giving you His holy light and strength to
extricate yourself from the dangerous temptation against your good,
virtuous Mother. It is the devil's doing, in the hope of upsetting you
both by disuniting you. God be blessed who has delivered you. Take great
care never to fall into it again and keep invariably united to your
written Rule, and to the living rule which is your Superior. For it may
be that God will permit you to be under a very imperfect Superior, and,
if so, endure it. The spirit of God is there for you, and think of
nothing save that. Most assuredly, if faithful you will never come to
grief by this road.

Yes, of course, dearest daughter, your timidity comes from self-love.
For the love of God, master your inclination and live as the Rule tells
us, according to reason and to the will of God. If you yourself do not
make up your mind to this, there is no way of helping you. You can be
told what you ought to do, but no one can do it but yourself. Be brave
then. God requires this of you. He calls you to a high perfection, and
your true way, the solitary road by which you can attain it, is by
corresponding faithfully to the exact observance of the Institute, and
this with a holy fervour of spirit, humbly, sweetly and simply. It
consoles me to hear that you have cut short your introspections, and
that you are more tranquil in the desire for your advancement, this
eagerness comes from nothing but self-love. Be watchful against it
always, I beg of you, and accustom yourself to regard the will of God in
all things and to unite yourself to it. There is nothing changed in the
ceremonial. You can take as you think fit from the Book of Customs and
the Spiritual Directory for the instruction of your Novices, whom I
affectionately salute, and you also whom my soul cherishes with a
special and cordial love. I beseech of you to be cordial and generous.

LXVII. _To the Baron de Chantal, the Saint's Son._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1626.

I have an intense longing for news of you, as I cannot but feel anxious
about this pain you are suffering. If I could but ease it by bearing it
in my own body! God so willing, what a relief it would be to me, for my
heart is sore at the thought of you. Yet, believe me, my dearest Son,
this suffering is sent for the profit of your soul. Bear it then as
sweetly and as patiently as you can. It will help to win heaven for you.
Lift up your heart often to that blessed country. The happiness that
awaits us there is eternal, while the sorrows of this life soon pass
away. And I beseech you, my own beloved Son, since your condition
obliges you to row on the tempestuous sea of this world, try never to
swallow its waters, but drink rather of those of Divine grace, turning
in all your needs with a loving, filial trust to that source of mercy.
Love above all else, and fear to displease, the God of sovereign
goodness who alone can make you happy both here and hereafter. That you
may possess in abundance His most precious graces is the abiding wish of
her who with all her heart loves and cherishes you, her own special one.

                                                   Your good Mother.

LXVIII. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1627.

May blessings of every description be bestowed upon my very dear son and
beloved daughter for this new year and for always, so that after having
lived long and happily together here on earth they may continue in the
enjoyment of one another in eternal glory. This is my wish of wishes for
you, dearest son, and for that most charming little wife whom God has
given you and whom I love so tenderly for your sake. I long for news as
to the health of both of you and of the dear little daughter,[A] whom
may God also make altogether His own if it please Him.

I still look forward to visiting you next summer, as Mother de Châtel,
who is Superior here (at Annecy), desires me to go to Orleans, and you
are so near that I hope to be able to see you and your little family.
This consolation I promise myself with the help of divine Providence
which I unceasingly invoke for you, that it may lead you securely
through all the miseries and temptations of this wretched life, beset as
it is with occasions of separating us from God's holy fear and love. My
beloved son, never put a foot outside the safe keeping of this love and
fear. Think of the eternal life to which we are all journeying and of
the instability of this one, which is but a roadway on which we pass
from one sorrow to another. In the name of God let us so live here that
we may live together eternally in everlasting happiness and glory. This
desire consumes the heart of your unworthy Mother, who loves you beyond


[A]Marie de Chantal, afterwards Madame de Sévigné.

LXIX. _To M. de Coulanges, Junior, at Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                               _12th January, 1627._

I bless God with all my heart for the good news you give me of your
happy marriage and of the complete recovery of my son. Indeed, I am
allied to your honourable family by so many obligations and so close an
affection that I cannot but share in a large measure all the good and
evil fortune that befalls you; therefore have I every reason, seeing you
so happy in this marriage, to rejoice with you and to congratulate your
family. Thanking God, as I do with all my heart, for this great
blessing, I beg of Him in His infinite goodness to spread an abundance
of graces upon your union and to give you many prosperous years. Such,
Sir, are the wishes of my heart for you and for your wife, whom I pray
to believe me to be her very humble servant.

                             Always your very
                                    humble and affectionate servant.

LXX. _To the Countess de Toulonjon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1627.

May God in His infinite goodness recompense you by an abundance of
spiritual and temporal blessings for the loss you have sustained in the
death of a son,[A] tidings of which have reached me. I know that you
will have received this visitation of God with a patient and loving
submission to His good pleasure, for in this valley of tears we must
expect many afflictions and but few consolations. Keep lifting up your
thoughts to Eternal Life, where alone is to be found true repose. Into
it cast all your heart and all your hopes, and teach the little one
(Gabrielle[B]) this lesson while she is still young.


[A]Madame de Toulonjon unhappily lost several of her children at birth.

[B]Gabrielle de Toulonjon married her cousin, de Bussy Rabutin, of
unenviable celebrity. Needless to say, the union was not for her a happy

LXXI. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1627.

May the sweet Saviour fill you and all those dear to you with His holy
love. I do not know whether you have received my last letter in answer
to your confidential one. I am looking out for good news. The tender
love I bear you cannot but make me a little anxious. However, I trust
that God in His love will support you and bring you safely through. Now
that a satisfactory peace[A] is, thank God, concluded, I hope to have
the consolation of seeing you this year. Nevertheless, dearest daughter,
do not let yourself be taken up too much with this hope, so that if
divine Providence should put obstacles in the way you may not be greatly
upset; for beyond everything I want you to love His holy guidance, and
He is so good that He always arranges what is best for His children, one
of whom you most assuredly are. How I long to impress upon you this
truth, that nothing can happen except by the order and disposition of
the Eternal Will. I salute dear Gabrielle.

                                              Ever your Mother, etc.


[A]A temporary peace made, during the Thirty Years' War, with the
Huguenots in May, 1626, and called the Peace of Monzon.

LXXII. _To Mother Marie-Adrienne Fichet, Superior at Rumilly._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1627.

[The first lines are illegible.]

As to your temptations, divert your mind from them, and in this do
violence to yourself, but let it be a gentle violence, and yet taking
good hold. This firmness tempered with mildness is, my daughter, the
course for you. God has hidden the prize of eternal glory in the
conquest and mortification of ourselves, but a conquest and a
mortification that are always accompanied with sweetness; otherwise,
with your quick nature you will be the cause of suffering not only to
yourself but likewise to others. Hence, gentleness is an important
factor in government, and when allied to generosity, I daily see how
much souls are helped and supported by it. You are aware of the very
special love which I have for your soul, and your house is to me as one
of our own dormitories here. They speak of your monastery as being
unfortunate, and ask how it is that it is so afflicted. Such affliction
should not be spoken of as a misfortune, as it is the means of bringing
glory to God; for not one of your Sisters has died whose soul is not
giving Him praise in Heaven. This is, dearest daughter, the language of
the world. That of God is quite otherwise: for whenever a house is
visited by such tribulation as does not offend Him it is a great mark of
His benediction upon that community. Now continue to be on your guard
lest there be any asperity in your corrections, for hardness is neither
becoming nor fruitful. Those who have the charge of others are not
usually able to say with St. Paul: "I am innocent of your blood,"[A]
meaning of the faults which these people commit. On the contrary most
commonly we are guilty not only of our own faults but likewise of those
of others. For either we are too severe, or too lenient; we have either
corrected with harshness, not seasoning our words with the sugar of holy
charity, or have neglected to correct at all.

I have nothing more to say, dearest daughter, but that I forward the
money for the new habit you have made for me, and I beseech you, on the
first opportunity, to send me back the old one which the sisters have
kept. There is nothing upsets me more than these exterior manifestations
of imaginary sanctity in me; they are simply snares that the devil lays
to make me tumble into the pitfall of pride. I am already a sufficient
stumbling-block to myself without your adding to it. I implore of you,
all of you, not to be the occasion to me of so dangerous a temptation,
and if anyone has anything belonging to me they will oblige me by
burning it. Would to God that my sisters treated me as I deserve before
Him, then I should have some hope that by humiliations I might become
what they imagine me to be: but this providing me with continual
temptations to vanity is a thing insupportable to me. I tell you this
with sorrow in my heart and tears in my eyes. The good N. and N. are
very happy in having so many exterior humiliations. I cherish them more
on account of these, and believe them to be, in God's judgement, which
is so different from that of men, all the greater because of them.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A]Acts, XX, 26.

LXXIII. _To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior of the First
Monastery of Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                _August 12th, 1627._

How good it is, my dearest daughter, to rest in God and seek only His
glory! See how He has guided this election, which has been a great
consolation to me, and I have every hope that this dear Mother Hélène
Angelique (L'huillier) will rule with such humility and gentleness that
much glory will accrue to God, and the Sisters be consoled and
satisfied. The Bishop of Geneva is very glad that things have turned out
as they have done. When you are in the new house I think you will do
well to send him word of your deposition and tell him of the nature of
your new office.

Our Blessed Father's process[A] is, thank God, progressing well. The
Depositions are bringing to light treasures of virtue and sanctity: His
incomparable charity and profound humility shine conspicuously
throughout; but, for the matter of that, there is no virtue that does
not shine in him, for he possessed all in a pre-eminent degree. Lord
Jesus, what a glorious thing it is to be a saint! May God make us worthy
daughters of such a Father, and may we above all have the grace to
imitate his humility and his poor opinion of himself! Oh how happy we
should be if we could love this lowliness and poverty so much prized by

The Archbishop of Bourges will be here till October; but he will not be
able to finish the business. The Bishop of Belley will then take it up,
for it is going to be a long affair. We start for Orleans (D.V.) at
latest on the 15th of October.

If Sister M. M.'s mind is not in accord with that of her superior of
Paris, and she is not satisfied, though it seems to me she ought to be,
you would be doing a great charity to take her away with you. It is a
misery to see poor souls like this who are not content with things as
they are; however, they are objects of our charity and our forebearance.
Goodbye, very dear daughter; I pray God to fill you and all our dear
Sisters with His holy love. I salute all, but in particular Sister
Assistant. Our Sister the Superior of Blois writes to tell me that their
good foundress has died. Help to relieve them if you can in reference to
the foundation.[B] They have confidence that you will do your best for
them, and do it, I beg of you.


[A]Process of Beatification.

[B]This is to say, see that the sum promised by the foundress for the
founding of a convent is forthcoming.

LXXIV. _To a Visitation Superior._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1627.

Thank you, my dear daughter, for praying for my son. With his death,[A]
most truly, came to me not a feeling of death so much as of life for
the soul of my child, and God has given me a very clear light and a very
tender gratitude for His mercy towards this soul. Alas! not one of the
fears that used to come upon me of his dying in one of those duels into
which his friends enticed him but was harder to bear than has been this
good and Christian death. And although it has deeply affected me, yet
the consolation in the thought that my son has given his blood for the
Faith outweighs the sorrow. Besides, dear daughter, it is a long time
now since I have given him and everything to Our Lord, by whose goodness
I hope to obtain the grace no more to desire aught save to see Him
dispose of all things to His liking in time and in eternity.


[A]The death of the Baron de Chantal is related by a contemporary
historian in the following terms: "Chantal was chosen to head the first
squadron of Volunteers, which at this time comprised the whole flower of
the Court, and finding himself under orders to defend the Isle of Ré
against the English on July, 22nd, 1627, held his post with such
tenacious courage during six hours, although he had received twenty-six
pike wounds, of which he died two hours later, that the heroism of his
death was the subject of universal praise, and all mourned him as his
valour merited. He was thirty-one years of age. The end of this gallant
gentleman was as Christian as it was self-sacrificing. On the morning of
the combat he prepared himself by the reception of the Sacraments, and
breathed his last in sentiments of the most sincere piety. The following
day Toitas claimed his body from the English General, and it was then
embalmed and buried in the Isle of Ré, his heart having been sent to his
sorrowing widow, who had it buried with honour in the church of the
Minims in Paris, from whence it was afterwards removed to the Church of
the Visitation Monastery, Rue St. Antoine."

LXXV. _To Mother Jeanne Hélène de Gérard, Superior at Embrun._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                             _14th September, 1627._

I have just received your letter, and as we are on the point of starting
for Orleans I can neither give my answer the attention the matter
deserves, God with His wonted goodness will make up for my
deficiencies. Those good subjects to whose admittance your Archbishop
objects must not, of course, be received, and if the Fathers write to me
in reference to them I will keep to his Lordship's commands.

It is impossible for a superior to undertake to give all her orders at
the Obedience[A] although it is well for her to think a little
beforehand of what she intends to say at that time. The defect you
mention is a mere trifle, but that of urging on spirits over much,
although there is rarely sin, owing to your purity of intention, is,
however, a matter of great importance: therefore, my dearest Sister, do,
I beg of you, proceed gently in this holy work.

Read with attention the writings of our holy Founder (St. Francis de
Sales), and you will there see the extreme sweetness and suavity with
which he led souls, and how marvellously they thus advanced. Follow his
spirit closely, I pray you, animating all, encouraging all, yet always
with gentleness. Commonly speaking, we have more strength for bearing up
on great occasions than on small ones, so it is that being overcome by
slight difficulties we get to know, through the grace of God, how weak
we are, and in this way He keeps us humble and dependent on Him. These
little attacks which give you heart-aches are nothing to an enlightened
mind resolved to will only as God wills; and this, I know, is your own
sole aim.

Your sincerity in telling me this thought (that you are more enlightened
than I am) has given me great pleasure. Such openness and simplicity of
heart is the cream of virtue, which I desire for the daughters of the
Visitation. May God increase it in you, together with the love of your
own humiliation and holy liberty of mind.

Keep to this way, very dear daughter, and God will, I trust, make you
experience the wonders of His mercy. Abide, I pray you, between the arms
of divine Providence and of holy Obedience, and let not your desires
outstep these limits.

Believe me, daughter, it is to God's glory that you finish your term of
office. I mean your triennial term in the charge of which obedience has
placed you. I have a thousand reasons, both for God's sake and for what
is becoming in yourself, to show you that this is the Visitation spirit,
but I have no leisure to write them. Give us the comfort of seeing you
persevere generously. You have only eighteen months to get through. It
will soon pass, and at the end of it you will have abundance of
consolation for having satisfied the good pleasure of God who asks this
of you. Before that time, please God you will confer and resolve
together as to who is to be your successor, and also about the
buildings in regard to which it would be well to have the opinion of the
Archbishop so as to conform to it as much as possible.... I want to say
a few words to Sister Anne Marie (Bon) and then hasten to finish.

Praying God abundantly to spread His holy benedictions upon you and all
your dear family, I recommend myself with great earnestness to your
prayers, that in this journey, and at all times, I may accomplish the
holy will of God. I shall always answer your letters whenever I receive
them, for God has given me a very sincere affection for you and for your
little house, and my desire is to respond to the holy confidence you
place in me with so much candour and fidelity.

Adieu, dearest daughter. Believe me, with my whole heart,

                                Your very humble sister and servant.


[A] Before the Sisters disperse at the morning and evening recreations
they receive "Obediences" from the Superior as to any change of
employment or any special devotions in the course of the day.

LXXVI. _To Sister Françoise-Angélique de la Croix de Fésigney, Mistress
of Novices at Riom._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                      ORLEANS, 1627.

Your letter has given me much consolation, for in it I see somewhat more
determination to follow the advice we have given you, which, for you,
is the only suitable advice. Keep your heart on high and confide with
holy joy, and no reserves, in the goodness of God. He has designed to
make choice of you for His service in the Monastery in which He has
placed you: where no doubt there are others more capable than you, but
that does not signify in God's eyes. It is humility, not capacity, He
looks for. The most humble and the most faithful to His divine will
contents Him most, and this is, I know, the way in which you are
determined to serve Him. Live where you now are as you used to live at
Nessy, growing in perfection by perseverance in the practice of virtue.
This is all I ask of you. And if you give way now and again, be not cast
down by such falls, but for love of God rise again with courage. It will
give me great pleasure if you try to suppress childish ways. I wish I
could make you see this. Should you, however, fall into them sometimes,
do not worry. In a word, dearest little one, guide your novices boldly
according to the teaching of the Directory and you will see how God will
bless your care of them. For my part I feel sure He wishes to use you
for the well-being of your monastery, for, as you know, all depends on
the novitiate.

I never thought much of good Sister Madeleine. Let her not think that I
believe in her revelations. Most assuredly God does not give such to
souls who are so full of imperfections. She can tell untruths about
what I said to her just as she does about other things. Try, however, to
gain her and give poor Sister, the Superior, all the comfort you can. I
write in haste. I should like to write often, but I cannot. However, we
shall meet again, please God. My daughter, my dearest little one, be
henceforth, I repeat, joyous and generous in the service of the good
God. Ask Him always how you should speak and act, and be assured that in
everything for your good and for that of your dear novices He Himself
will act and speak through you. I salute most affectionately the novices
whom I dearly love, and all our Sisters. May God put Sister N. in the
right way.

                                                    Adieu, daughter.


[A] This Sister was a relative of St. Francis de Sales. St. Jane
Frances, who never flattered, used to call her "the little Saint."

LXXVII. _To St. Vincent de Paul._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   _December, 1627._

Now that you are working in the Province of Lyons, my very dear Father,
we shall have no opportunity of seeing you for a long time, yet it is
not for us to gainsay what God arranges. May He be blessed in all
things. But, very dear Father, I am taking advantage of the liberty
which in your charity you have given me to continue importuning you with
my confidence, and I do so in all simplicity.

I gave four days to the Exercises (Retreat), and no more, on account of
the amount of business that has come unexpectedly upon me. During those
days I realized how much I need to labour at acquiring humility and at
bearing with my neighbour. I have been trying to acquire these virtues
during the past year, and with Our Lord's help have practised them
somewhat. But it is His doing, not mine, and if it please Him I will so
continue as He gives me many opportunities for the practice of them. For
my part it seems to me that I am in a simple state of waiting on the
good pleasure of God to do whatever He wills with me. I have no desires,
no plans; I hold to nothing, and very willingly leave myself in His
hands; still, I do this without sensible devotion, but I think it is all
right at the bottom of my heart. I just do at the present moment what
seems to me necessary without thinking any further, or planning for the
future. The whole inferior part of my being is frequently in revolt,
and this causes me much distress. I can but bear with it, knowing that
through patience I shall possess my soul. Moreover, I have an ever
increasing weariness of my charge, for I cannot endure the labour it
entails, and I am obliged to force myself to do the necessary work which
is wearisome to both mind and body. No matter how I am occupied, my
imagination gives me a good deal of trouble, and it all makes me sick at
heart. Our Lord permits me besides to have many exterior difficulties,
so that nothing in life gives me pleasure save only the will of God who
wills them. I beseech you to implore Him to have mercy on me, and I
shall never fail to pray Him with all my heart to give you the strength
you need for the charge that He has entrusted to you.


[A] The reciprocal affection and veneration of St. Vincent de Paul and
St. Francis de Sales is well known. Both trained in the school of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus, the one the apostle of Charity, the other of
Gentleness, these two souls bore so striking a resemblance to one
another that when, upon the death of St. Francis, St. Chantal placed
herself under the guidance of St. Vincent de Paul, she is said to have
felt that she had made no change in her spiritual direction. Of her
intimate correspondence with St. Vincent, which continued until her
death, there remains, unfortunately, but a mere fragment.

LXXVIII. _To the Countess de Toulonjon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                _10th of May, 1628._

May God be your eternal joy and consolation! The Bishop of Chalons has
written to tell me what a comfort it has been to him to have had you
near him for a little while, and his only regret is that you could not
have stayed longer. He is most kind-hearted....

M. Coulon, at the request of M. de Coulanges, has brought me all the
contracts, in order to let me see just how things have been, which
indeed I knew already, and an account of which I have given in a
memorandum to M. de Bussy for you, so that M. de Saint-Satur may make up
his mind either to relinquish his claim or to make it good: for M. de
Coulanges wishes to hear our side of the matter before putting my son's
property in order. This is, dearest daughter, my reason for begging of
you to settle how you intend to act, for if this business is dragged on,
the property will be spent to the ruin of the little de Chantal child. I
hope Our Lord in His goodness will let us see clearly the truth, and
that seeing it we may preserve that blessed peace and harmony which is
more precious in families than all the goods of the world. M. Coulon
will have told you how greatly M. de Coulanges and my daughter de
Chantal desire that this union amongst us should be maintained, and that
things should be arranged amicably and without delay; of this I can
assure you, dearest daughter, so pray think the matter over; for to tell
me that you will give it all up if I so desire is not the point at all.
If you have a just claim I have no wish that it should not be satisfied,
this being only reasonable; but if you have none, which I think is the
case, and that the title-deeds show it as plain as day, I would wish you
to put in no claim, so that the affairs of this poor little child may
be arranged in peace. Should God take her to Himself you will then have
wherewith to be satisfied. While awaiting the great comfort of seeing
you, you ought, I think, to act conclusively in the matter.

Praying God to spread in abundance His holiest blessings upon you and
upon our poor child, I remain, very dear daughter, notwithstanding all
surmises to the contrary, in very truth and with my whole heart your
Mother, who has for you that incomparable maternal love which God has
given me and which by His grace will never grow less.

I salute M. de Saint-Satur, whose most humble servant I am.

                                      Good-bye, my dearest daughter.

LXXIX. _Extract from a letter to Mother Favre._

Writing from Bourges, 1628, to Mother Favre, who had just been elected
Superior of the Second Monastery of Paris, St. Chantal says: "Your good
Father (St. Vincent de Paul), for whom I feel so much reverence and
affection, thanks me for the gift we have given him of you. This is, I
think, to forstall your being taken away. I shall see to it with the
Bishop of Geneva and with you yourself. What a rogue you are! But all
the more are you my truly loved daughter, for whom I have an
incomparable affection. I send my salutations to whoever you wish. God
be blessed!"

LXXX. _To Sister Anne Marguerite Clément at Orleans._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        DIJON, 1628.

Yes, indeed, my dearest daughter, God should be all in all to you. The
one cherished good of the soul is to be alone with her God. Remain in
this state of simple detachment, loving and obeying Our Lord in the
person of your Superior and following blindly her guidance and her
commands. I know full well that you have given me your heart and that
God has lodged it in mine, and this is why I hope nothing may ever take
it thence. Through His grace we have been trained in the same spirit and
vocation in this world; may we continue together to love and praise the
supreme Beloved of our souls for all eternity. Since God has deprived
you of the power to use the intellectual faculties of your soul, do not
attempt to do so, but acquiesce in His good pleasure. Be as a child in
the arms of its nurse, letting God do just as He likes with you through
holy obedience, and try little by little to forget self. I do not think
there is any other means of securing stable peace of soul than the
giving oneself up absolutely, in order to be led and directed by

                                                         Yours, etc.

LXXXI. _To Mother Catherine-Charlotte de Crémaux de la Grange._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1629.

The good gentleman[A] who is making your foundation at Condrieu
manifests a great regard for it and much piety, courtesy, and humility
in the articles of his foundation which I have seen. Indeed it is but
reasonable to do all you can to please him. However, in regard to this
first proposition of naming those whom he wishes to be received without
a dowry, you must if possible arrange that the Sisters have the liberty
to choose the subjects, lest those he names may not be suitable. This is
an important point for the preservation of peace in our Institute, as
usually those who present subjects have such a strong desire to see them
received that, if they prove to have no vocations, the Sisters by
sending them away make for themselves enemies instead of friends: so
have a clear agreement on this point. It is quite necessary, in order
not to be constrained to take those who are found to be unsuitable. The
Book of Customs will afford light on this matter....

As to the Fourth Article, the instruction of young girls. To take
boarders is contrary to the spirit of our Institute. Our Blessed Father
never approved of it. I do not know if you will find amongst his letters
one which he wrote to a superior who had been approached on this subject
by her Bishop. The Book of Customs permits indeed that three young
girls, but not more, between the ages of ten and twelve, whose parents
destine them for the Religious life, should be instructed and trained
for it. If therefore one could manage to give satisfaction by arranging
such instructions as they desire in the parlour to young girls, and to
some friends, that could be done on feast-days, and on one day in the
week besides, but to act otherwise would be contrary to the Institute.
Such is my humble opinion, since you desire to have it.[B] We received
your letters yesterday, and will answer them as soon as we can, but the
bearer only gave us time to open them. We shall have the answers ready
to send you on the first opportunity that presents itself.


[A] This foundation was made from Lyons by M. de Villars, whose brother,
Mgr. de Villars, Archbishop of Vienne, presided at the installation of
the Sisters at Condrieu, January 1st, 1630.

[B] The Little Sisters, of whom St. Jane Frances herself deemed it
sometimes necessary to increase the numbers, have long since been
superseded by small secular schools. The needs of the times, and the
solicitations of the Bishops, under direct obedience to whom St. Francis
wished his daughters always to remain, impelled the Mother Superiors of
various monasteries, including that of Annecy, to deviate from the
original design of the founders in so far as to open schools. But where
this departure from the original Rule is not found necessary, the houses
continue to be purely contemplative. It is interesting to note that on
the deathbed of the Venerable Mother Chappuis, her daughters desiring to
know her dying wish in reference to their own school, she said: "It
neither interferes with the silence, the regularity, nor the solitude of
the Sisters, and is neither against the Rule, nor against the spirit of
the Institute." We are told that at Troyes, where this venerable servant
of God died, the Community, apart from the few engaged in teaching, was
absolutely ignorant of what passed in the school, knowing neither the
names nor the numbers of the school-children.

LXXXII. _To M. Poiton,[A] at Chambery._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   _Feb. 2nd, 1630._

I have already thanked God for your safe return, and when writing to my
Sister the Superior (of Chambery) sent you my good wishes. Now, while
renewing them, I would like to tell you how very much I desire to see
you and talk over some matters of interest with you, so I hope this
poor town will soon be restored to entire liberty.[B] Meanwhile, dear
brother, you will, with your usual kindness, take steps to accelerate
the lawsuit against M. de la Ravoir, and this I very strongly recommend
to you, as I am greatly astonished to see such apathy about an affair,
that is so clear. It is now two years, or at least a year and a half,
since the suit was begun, and it is of great importance to all our
monasteries in Savoy. As to us here, if the judgment is not in our
favour it will later entail a number of legal proceedings and
annoyances, for many are awaiting the result of this case to go to law
with us themselves. M. Fichet, who is at Chambery, has already done so,
and hopes to deprive us of the dowry of his sister, who died here after
a year and a day of profession. The ground upon which he bases his claim
is, that, notwithstanding her profession, she made a will leaving
everything to this monastery. You see, dear brother, how much the peace
or trouble of our houses of Savoy, in regard to the Sisters' dowries,
depends on the issue of M. Ravoir's case. If you can still procure legal
approval of our exemption from the tax upon salt all our houses will be
under fresh obligations to you, and, besides, you will be helping
towards our Sisters' buildings while awaiting the time when you can help
us to build our church.

Pray convey my remembrances to the Commander Baldain. I never write to
him because letters only worry him, and, besides, I am myself so
overwhelmed with letters and business, owing to the number of our
monasteries that correspond with this one, that I am hardly able to get
through it all. From day to day we are expecting the removal of the
restrictions on this town, after which we shall converse with leisure,
fully and freely. I beseech Our Lord to shed upon you His choicest
blessings. Recommending myself to your good prayers, believe me with the
same affection that I always have for you,

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] The Convent lawyer.

[B] In the spring of this year (1630) the invading armies of Louis XIII.
reached Annecy. The little town bravely but ineffectually resisted. On
capitulation one of the clauses it stipulated, and which was granted by
the Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, was that the body of the
venerable Francis de Sales should never be removed nor taken out of

LXXXIII. _To Dom Galice, Barnabite Father at Montargis._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   _February, 1630._

May the love of our Divine Saviour be the life of your soul....

I am very incompetent to give a useful answer to your letter in
reference to my Sister the Superior of Montargis:[A] I beg of Our Lord
to enlighten me that what I say may be in accordance with His good
pleasure. In the spiritual life of this Sister I have always seen many
traits of special communication from God. Her humility is genuine, her
charity towards her neighbour practical, her manner of treating with her
Superiors straight and simple, and she has a real love of mortification,
and of the practice of virtue. These are solid dispositions and such as
are usually favoured by God. He has, I see, given your Reverence so
clear and discerning a light in regard to the workings of grace in this
soul and so much wisdom and counsel in guiding her that we can but look
on with silent admiration. All I have to say is that I have never seen
anything clearer, more simple, humble, and artless, than the terms, in
which, with such lucidity, she manifests the operations of God in her,
and the activities of her own soul. To me it is impossible to believe
that she is moved by any other than the Spirit of God. It is said that
we know the tree by its fruit, and as her tree brings forth the fruit of
solid virtue there is nothing, I think, to fear. With your approval, my
very dear Father, I venture to say that the suitable accompaniment to
such great favours is interior recollection and self-humiliation. She
writes to me somewhat fully of her feelings. I reply briefly, but, as I
think, sufficiently. Let her pay little attention to what passes in her,
and fix the eyes of her mind on the unity and simplicity of the presence
of God, leaving it to do its own work. As to communion, your Reverence
will allow it to her as your prudence and discretion dictate. I am told
that the Bishop of Sens is a man of a very interior spirit and of great
piety. If he visits this convent it would be well, I have been thinking,
subject to your approval, to let him know what passes in this dear soul:
this would give us much light, or at any rate it would give us
confidence. I am quite of your opinion that it would be well for her to
write what passes within her.


[A] Mother Anne Marguerite Clément.

LXXXIV. _To the Same._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                     _August, 1630._

My dear Sister, the Superior, is very happy to be privileged to receive
so many graces in such a spirit of deep humility and detachment. This is
the touchstone by which to prove that they are from God, and which keeps
in security the soul of the recipient. She serves truly a good Master;
yet I am always of the same opinion that she ought not to be too much
carried away by these affections for fear that in weakening the body
they might unfit her for the duties of her charge. It would be well for
her to restrain her emotions so as to keep them in the superior part of
her soul and thus prevent an overflow on the body: this is a safer way.
To hear from time to time of what passes within her would, my very dear
Father, be an immense consolation to me: say, for instance, towards the
end of the year, or as your Reverence judges best.

LXXXV. _To Mother Anne Marguerite Clément, Superior at Montargis._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1631.

I am very well satisfied, my dearest daughter, with the favourable
opinion of your Bishop as to your dealings with God. Blessed for ever be
He who is so infinitely good as to deign to communicate Himself in such
plenitude to His poor and unworthy creature.

My daughter, there is nothing for me to say on this head. Do faithfully
whatever your worthy Bishop desires you to do. You have only to look at
God and to let Him work, completely forgetting yourself in Him. Since He
in His love permits you to speak to Him so lovingly and familiarly I
pray you, dearest daughter, present to Him sometimes my miserable little
heart, humbly beseeching Him to make it entirely His, to strip it of all
that does not find favour in His sight, and to give it the grace to do
and suffer all things whatsoever that His good pleasure wills.

Earnestly recommend to Him our poor little Congregation, that His spirit
may reign therein, and commend me often to His most holy love. Do this
so heartily that I may feel the effects in as full a measure as His
adorable will permits. Give me always your sweet affection in that holy
love. I have read the two pages of your letter regarding your interior
state, upon which I say nothing, save to praise God for the graces and
lights that He vouchsafes to you. It is not for the creature to use
empty and insipid words when the Creator Himself deigns to speak.

LXXXVI. _To Sister Marie Denise Goubert, of the First Monastery of

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1631.

I have read and re-read your letter, at the end of which you beg of me
to tell you if you are deceiving yourself in the belief which you hold
as strong as an article of faith (to begin with, it is a grave fault to
believe one's imagination in the same way as one believes an article of
faith) that your spirit is lost in God, as you describe it to be. Now I
tell you plainly, with my wonted sincerity, that I believe you are
deceiving yourself; for true lowliness is not made up in the
imagination, nor does it consist in having many affections and lights
to discourse on such things as you do. When one sees such lights in a
soul dead to self it gives great consolation. But, my daughter, you are
very far from such happiness, for you are bristling with self-love. Try
to acquire genuine humility, which consists in the death or the allaying
of your passions, inclinations, sentiments: your presumption, vanity,
and self-love; having achieved this you must labour constantly and
perseveringly by a continual mortification of your whole being. Begin by
retrenching the vain flights of your imaginations and the activity of
your understanding. I would wish you not to be so subtle in your

In a word, my daughter, you must become truly humble and really
mortified, and then God will live and reign in you. Take the advice and
follow the guidance of your good Mother, and God will bless you. That
God may do so is my prayer to Him.

                                    I remain, in His holy love,
                                                         Yours, etc.

LXXXVII. _To Dom Galice, Barnabite Father at Montargis._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1632.

I most humbly thank you for the trouble you have taken in writing me so
full an account of what it has pleased Our Lord in His goodness to
operate in this privileged soul,[A] and of the favourable judgement
which the Archbishop of Sens and the Rev. Fathers de Condren and de
Suffren have formed of her. I do not think that it would be advisable at
present to seek further evidence, lest, as you say, the peace of her
spirit might thereby be disturbed. As for me, knowing as I have done for
a long time the true humility, simplicity, and sincerity of this soul,
it seems to me almost impossible to doubt that what passes in her is
from God. From her infancy, preventing graces have been evident in
her--graces quite exceptional in one of her age; and when received into
this house she, from the very first, manifested in all her actions the
true virtues of religion, and as she can herself tell your Reverence,
God led her by very rare lights and sentiments of devotion to seek Him
alone. I see by her letter to me that she does not wish to remain
inactive, and this comes from the ardent desire that she has to please
God. But I think, my Rev. Father, that all she has to do is to leave
herself in Our Lord's hands, simply regarding Him without the
distraction of any other thought. God will give you the light requisite
for the guidance of this holy soul, since He has placed her under your
care and direction. Indeed she is fortunate in having met your
Reverence, who takes such a paternal interest in her, and there is good
reason to praise God. The divine Goodness will recompense you
abundantly, besides which I believe, very Rev. Father, that this charge
is light and comforting to you. Do not forget to remember in the Holy
Sacrifice her who desires for you the most pure love of our Lord, and
who is truly,

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] Mother Anne Marguerite Clément.

LXXXVIII. _To Sister Marie Aimée de Morville, at Moulins._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1632.

I have just come from holy communion, my dearest daughter, at which I
blessed and thanked the God of infinite goodness for the loud call with
which He has been pleased to bid you turn back to Him, and I besought
Him with all the energy of my soul to keep so firm a hold upon you that
nothing ever again may draw you away. For this I hope, dearest daughter,
through His grace and your faithful co-operation. I cannot but think
that your heart is too good ever to forget His superabundant mercies to
you. Ponder often on that counsel given by both the Princes of the
Apostles; Labour in fear and trembling by good works to make sure your
vocation.[A] Your past miserable experience ought surely to make you
tremble, and fearful of again falling, and very watchful in avoiding all
occasions of temptation, especially those which you know to be most
prejudicial, such as conversations, intimacies, affections, and
communications with the outside world, and even with spiritual persons
unless rarely and from true necessity. Then will it be your delight to
find contentment in the instructions you will receive from the good
Mother (Marie Angélique de Bigny), who has a singular love for you, and
is besides both capable and full of charity. Her tears, fasts,
austerities, and prayers so frequently offered to God on your behalf
will, I doubt not, have touched His heart, and helped to achieve your
conversion. To her will be given without fail every help requisite for
your happiness, and by means of her will His Goodness lead you in the
straight path. I have a strong belief that those who submit not
themselves to the guidance of their Superiors submit not to God. In a
word, apply yourself to do rather than to learn; this is my wish for
you. We have in abundance holy and solid instructions in the Institute.
For none better could we wish, and none are better adapted to lead us to
the great perfection that our vocation demands. May the study and the
practice of them henceforth be your delight. To this I conjure you so
that by means of them you may offer to the divine Goodness fruits worthy
of His mercy and to the Institute the perfume of a holy and sincere
conversion. Thus will be assuaged the sorrow and shame that by your past
disorders you have made it suffer, and all our hearts will be filled
with consolation. So much do I feel consoled by the generous acts you
have made[B] that my displeasure at the past is all gone, and I assure
you you are now within my heart, where I cherish you most truly and
affectionately, and believe me you will receive from all of the
Institute and from me nothing but proofs of love and affection.

I think it would be well some months hence, when you have given yourself
time to test your perseverance, that you should give testimony of it to
the houses of the Institute by some humbly written note, to make
satisfaction for your past misconduct. You have done well, dearest
daughter, in giving yourself unreservedly to God. His Providence will
not fail you nor permit you to be in want of anything. If the good
sister who used to serve you is worthy of the favour you desire for her,
most willingly can it be granted, but not till she has proved her
perseverance in well-doing for some years. I pray God to shed abundantly
upon you the assistance of His grace.


[A] "Labour the more that by good works you may make sure your calling
and election." 2 Pet. i. 10.

"With fear and trembling work your own salvation." Phil. ii. 12.

[B] In the early part of the summer of this year, 1632, says the Mother
de Chaugy, "it pleased God to open the eyes of the Benefactress of our
monastery of Moulins by means of a dream. One night she dreamt that she
saw a torch suddenly extinguished by someone at the moment it seemed to
be trying to give forth more light. Taking this as a divine warning that
her life would, when she least expected it, be thus suddenly
extinguished, it evoked a keen remorse for her past conduct. She sought
her Superior, and with every mark of genuine sorrow begged, for God's
sake, to be permitted once more to enter the novitiate, of which
petition the good Mother warmly approved. Sister Marie Aimée, now
desiring to make public reparation for the scandal she had given, asked
to do so at the open grille. This was allowed, and having there renewed
her profession, she tore up the document containing the list of
privileges which had been granted to her as Benefactress and
Co-foundress with Madame de Gouffier. At the same time she begged to be
allowed the favour of living as a simple religious, while confessing
herself unworthy of such a grace. From this time she became the
consolation and the edification of all her Sisters, an example of
fidelity to the holy Rule, and for fifteen months her obedience,
mortification, and piety were all that could be desired. At the end of
that time the dream which had wrought her conversion was verified. She
was taken suddenly ill, and had only time, before passing from this
life, to implore the mercy of Him who came to save the repentant

LXXXIX. _To M. de Coysia, Counsellor to the Royal Senate of Savoy._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                 _19th March, 1633._

Alas! Sir, what is this that I have just heard? That you are arrested
and charged with fresh accusations! Our good God, in permitting so much
affliction, can have no other design than by it to make you conformable
to His beloved Son our most gentle Redeemer. If you shut your eyes to
the things of earth and open them to eternal truths this tribulation,
accepted with loving and patient submission, will, in the end, work a
weight of glory and bring you solid peace. One single spark of this true
honour is worth more, a million times, than all the prosperity that the
world could offer, which, as you know, Sir, is all deceit and illusion.
Ponder well over the accusations with which the most holy Son of the
Eternal Father was charged, the pains that He suffered, followed as they
were by a terrible and ignominious death. You are not more innocent than
He. And all this He suffered for you, for me, for all ungrateful men,
because it was the good pleasure of His Eternal Father, with a love,
patience, and humility incomprehensible to us. So do you, Sir, seek to
imitate this portion of His Passion. Lovingly embrace His will. Resign
yourself absolutely to it. Place yourself and all your affairs in His
hands, so that He may dispose of all according to His good pleasure....

I need not assure you of our prayers: both affection and duty claim
them. May Our Lord be the joy and consolation of Madame, my most dear
sister, and of yourself.

                          Always sincerely your very humble servant.

Feast of the glorious Saint Joseph, to whom I recommend you with all my

XC. _To the Countess de Toulonjon, at Pignerol._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1633.

I hear that God is about to give you again the blessing of motherhood,
and I like to console myself with the hope that you thank Him for this
grace and for all the prosperity you enjoy, taking all from His hand who
sends you these good things, not to be employed in pomp and vain
display, but to make you advance in holy humility and loving fear of
Him. Tell me, daughter, and tell me quite honestly and frankly, what are
your sentiments upon this point? for I always have a certain dread that
the atmosphere of this world's affluence and honours may smother us if
we do not keep well before our minds the thought of their instability,
the certainty that we must one day leave them, and the uncertainty of
the coming of that day. Think often of death and of the blessed eternity
those will enjoy who value true happiness above all perishable things.
Impress these truths on your daughter, for they are the best and most
permanent heritage that you can give her. Make her dearly prize the
happiness of living in the holy love of God, and in the fear of
offending Him. These things, as you know, I have always, from your
tenderest years, striven to engrave on your heart, and especially did I
advise you to fulfil all your duties towards your husband, as God
ordains. This advice I now reiterate. You should give him all the
satisfaction in your power. Tell me also your thoughts on this point.
Ah! for the love of God, daughter, let not your head be turned by the
honours and good things which you have in such abundance. I am told that
you have become sarcastic. Believe me, dearest daughter, it is by
Christian modesty and a gentle and gracious manner to all that you ought
to make yourself known. Turning others into ridicule is not becoming in
one of your position and age. Try to conquer and attract hearts by the
means I have just pointed out, and to surpass all in prudence and holy
reticence of action. Take this advice from your mother, who loves you
and desires to see you altogether perfect in your station. May God give
you the grace to be so!

XCI. _To Mgr. André Frémyot, formerly Archbishop of Bourges (the Saint's


Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1633.

We have but to adore with profound submission the will of our good God,
and lovingly to kiss the rod with which He chastises His elect. Yes,
indeed, notwithstanding all the repugnance of nature, I praise and thank
Him a thousand times, because He is our good God, who sends us with the
same love joys and sorrows, and even for the most part causes greater
profit to come to us through affliction than through prosperity. Yet is
it not strange that knowing and experiencing this we should feel so
keenly as we do the death of those we love?--for I own to you that upon
opening the little note that announced the death of my poor dear
daughter I was so overcome that had I been standing I think I should
have fallen. I never remember any previous sorrow to have had the effect
of this note upon me. O! my Jesus! What a climax of grief it has been
to my poor feeble heart and how your trouble has added to mine! It is
most natural that you should feel it as you do, and at your age too;
what a sweetness and support you have lost in this daughter who so
lovingly looked after your health and every want of yours. All this
makes me suffer more than I can say, for whatever touches you touches me
acutely. But when I reflect that by means of these privations, lovingly
accepted, our good God wishes to be Himself everything to us, and that
the least advance we make in His love is worth more than all the world
with all its joys, and that in those sharp trials which deprive us of
our sweetest pleasure He prizes above all the union of our will with
His--truly, I say, when I consider these things, I find myself impelled
to acknowledge that the more sorrows that come upon one the more is one
favoured by God. I hope that before now you will yourself have received
this light and found comfort in it. First emotions [of grief], my
beloved and dearest Lord, are inevitable, and our sweet Saviour is not
offended by them. But I trust that after them He will abundantly fill
you with consolations; this I pray for unceasingly. Distract yourself as
much as you can and let the confident hope that we shall be united in a
blessed eternity fortify you. The virtuous life and holy death of our
dearly loved daughter gives strong hope that in God's mercy she is
already in this enjoyment. We are after all here only to prepare for
future happiness, and the sooner we possess it the happier for us.

I am writing to M. and Mme. de Coulanges, to whom this terrible loss
must have been a great blow. I believe they will take into their heart
the poor little orphan[B] and always keep her there. Verily when my
thoughts turn to her I have to hold them in. I trust that God, to whom I
confide her, will be Father and Protector to her, and I give her up to
the care of the Blessed Virgin with all my heart.

Our Sisters of both Convents upon this occasion have forgotten nothing.
Besides their own love for the dear deceased they also felt very much
for your sorrow in her loss and for mine. There is some comfort in
knowing that she is to be left, with the heart of my poor son, in the
care of the Sisters. Your judge of Nantua told me the other day that you
are at N. I was very glad, my dear Lord, to hear it, as it will help to
give you the distraction that you ought to seek.

                                                     My Lord,
                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] The young Baroness de Chantal died August 20th, 1633, and was buried
in the vault at the Visitation Monastery, Rue St. Antoine.

[B] Marie de Chantal, afterwards Mme. de Sévigné.

XCII. _To a blind Sister_[A].

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   [Date not given.]

Your letter consoles me, for it tells me with what patience you have
accepted your cross, and what profit, by your submission to the good
pleasure of God, you are drawing from it. He, it may be, deprives you of
the light of the body in order to make you more abundantly enjoy that of
the spirit, and this is a great motive for blessing Him. As a saint once
said to one who was blind and very holy: "There is nothing to be proud
of in bodily sight; we have it in common with the beasts; but we may
well rejoice in God's having given us the interior light by which we see
and know His goodness." I am very glad that our good Sisters are so
affectionately attentive in their care of you, as this gives you
pleasure. I envy them in having the opportunity, for, I must tell you,
what will perhaps console you. I have always set very little value on
corporal sight, being of opinion that, except for the reading of good
books and somebody else's devotions, it is a hindrance rather than a
help in the spiritual life, so it is almost more desirable to be without
it than to enjoy it, as in its absence the interior sight remains
firmer, more purified from external objects, and more solidly fixed on
God. This is indeed the only thing, it seems to me, worth desiring. If,
nevertheless, you feel inspired to ask your cure of God, do so, but
always with your former resignation, and pray for her who is all, etc.


[A] From "Sainte Chantal: Pensées et Lettres." P. Téqui, 29, rue de
Tournon, Paris. 1899.

XCIII. _To Sister Bonne Marie de Haraucourt at Nancy._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1633.

God bless you, my dearest daughter, for the good news you send me of the
convalescence of the good prelate....

To return to yourself, whom I so dearly love. Repose in peace in your
state of spiritual poverty. Blessed are the poor, for God will reclothe
them. How happy should we be if our hearts were stript of all that is
not God, and if we loved so to be. What a blessed thing it is to be in
obscurity, with no devotion, no spiritual enlightenment, no consolation
from creatures. Oh, my daughter, when a soul finds herself in this
state, what can she do save hide herself like a little fledgeling, and
nestle under the wing of her good mother Providence, remaining hidden
there, not venturing to come out for fear the kite might capture
her--this, then, is your place of repose where there is naught to fear,
and in what better place could you be? And what richer clothing could
you have than to be covered beneath the shelter of the sweet providence
of your heavenly Father? Dwell there, and be well content to possess
this singular privilege. You know, my daughter, that you have a place in
my heart from which no one can ever dislodge you.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] Sister Bonne Marie de Haraucourt, whose memory is venerated in the
Visitation Order, spent her youth in the midst of the gaieties of the
Court of Lorraine without ever reflecting that she had a Jesus to
imitate or a heaven to gain. On terms of intimacy with the Duchess
Nicloe, wife of Charles IV., this girl became intoxicated with the
flattery by which she was surrounded because of her beauty and her wit,
when of a sudden the same words that converted the great Arsenius,
"Fuge, Tace, Quiesce,"* fell upon her ear. The arrival of St. Jane
Frances in Lorraine at the moment (1626) was propitious, and the young
Court favourite made no delay in answering the call. With mingled
feelings of joy at the thought of the great sacrifice, and of dread of
what it entailed, she offered herself to the Saint. Soon after the
arrival of Mademoiselle de Haraucourt at the Visitation of
Pont-a-Mousson, the flower of the younger ladies of the Court,
captivated by her example, followed her there, where, regardless of the
opinion of the world, they led a life hidden with God. After seven years
of solitude and prayer, Sister Bonne Marie was sent to help Mother P. J.
Favrot in the reform of the Penitentiary at Nancy, and she obtained
leave to found there a Convent of her own Order, with the holy desire to
perpetuate in this town, where she feared to have so much offended in
the past, a homage of unceasing reparation.

The Princes of Lorraine, and the Court, cherished and protected the new
foundation, but soon after, the horrors of the Swedish war and the
consequent departure of the Princess, left the little Community in a
most pitiable state of destitution. Elected Superior at this critical
time, Sister Bonne Marie, by the heroism of her faith, wrought wonders
equal to those of great miracle-workers amongst the Saints. When no
longer Superior, this holy Nun, by the force of her example, was the
life and soul of her Convent at Nancy, as she had been the joy and
support of Mother Favrot at Pont-a-Mousson. She died February 26th,
1666. (_Année Sainte_, Vol. II).

* Fly, be silent and be at peace.

XCIV. _To Sister Paule Jéronyme de Monthoux, Sister Deposed,[A] at

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1633.

Your letter by which I see that you are in the midst of suffering fills
me with compassion. However, the Superior[B] being such as she is, I do
not think it desirable to remove you at present, for your absence would,
I fear, make matters worse.

You ought to follow faithfully the attraction you mention in your last
letter of wishing to live in profound humility in order to imitate more
perfectly the divine Saviour who was subject not only to His Father but
to His children, to His creatures. As you know, they did not treat Him
well, but with infinite contempt and opprobium, and all this suffering
He bore without complaint. If, then, you have the courage to suffer in
humility, sweetness, patience, silence, all that presents itself to you,
I most truly believe that by so doing you will become holy, that your
service will be agreeable to the divine Majesty, will work great good to
the Institute, and in particular to your own house.

These little things you mention to me, that the Mother does not wash the
dishes, and does not sweep, I should take no notice of, except to bring
them to her notice just once in a casual way and humbly. But when you
remark important things, tell her of them with gentleness and affection,
and try to win her heart, for if you once gain that you can do as you
will with her. Neglect nothing that you think could further this end.
With my pen as with my whole heart I beseech you to do all you possibly
can to remedy this evil. You see how it is, beloved daughter; the older
Sisters do not like to be the fault-finders. I gather this from their
letters, and I see also that they fail in humility and respect towards
the Mother. Certainly when a Sister, whoever she may be, is in charge as
Mother, the same obedience and respect should be given to her as to her
predecessor. To act otherwise is to prove that we have no virtue and
that we do not, as is our duty, regard God in the creature. So should it
be when she is in office. And when she is no longer Superior let us
cherish her as a sister, and keeping ourselves in humility, meddle as
little as possible with anything. If it is requisite to admonish it
ought to be done with such respect and charity that no harm can come of
it. In a word, as you would wish that others should act towards you if
you were Superior, so do you to them. I assure you, dearest daughter, it
grieves me more than I can tell you when I know that the newly elected
Mothers and the Sisters deposed are not in harmony; for it is clear as
noon-day that this comes from a want of humility. Wherever such a
misfortune exists it is the ruin of peace and of the observance of the
Rule, and that house is no longer held in good esteem.

May God put His hand to this reformation. If I outlive my term of office
I am resolved to keep myself so much in the background, and so ignorant
of the affairs of the house that I can give umbrage to no one. Should I
see wrong I shall certainly speak of it, but with all possible
gentleness and humility, and having done so, if it is not put right I
shall hold my tongue until the [Ecclesiastical] Superior's visit, then I
shall simply represent the matter without exaggeration to him. To
conclude, dearest daughter, do everything God suggests to you for the
good of your Convent and for peace. Charity remedies all things. I am
writing a long letter to the (Mother) Superior. Receive all I say as
coming from a heart that only desires your good, and is entirely,

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] In the Visitation Order the former Superior upon the election of her
successor is called "Sister Deposed."

[B] Mother Marie Michel Gervain was not re-elected.

XCV. _To M. Noël Brulart, the Commander de Sillery._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   [Date not given.]

Now see, my most dear Brother, how you have fallen into the state to
which I always feared your great fervour would reduce you. And yet you
say that you fear to flatter yourself and are not sufficiently on your
guard against your own cowardliness. My true Father, for the love of God
make no such reflections: for believe me all these little apprehensions
that you are not doing enough are not half so pleasing to God as would
be your submission in accepting the relief you require both for body and
mind. God only wants your heart. Our uselessness and powerlessness when
lovingly accepted through reverence and devotion to His most holy will
are more agreeable to Him than if we were perpetually doing violence to
ourselves by great works of penance. Indeed, as you know, it is the
height of perfection to will in regard to ourselves as God wills. And
since He has given you a delicate constitution He wishes you to take
care of it, so do not want to exact from it what He in His gentleness
does not ask. A mild and tranquil inaction is what He requires of you,
resting near Him, without paying any attention whatsoever either to the
suggestions of your understanding or the movements of your will, unless
it be to say some words of love, fidelity, and simple acquiescence
offered gently and tranquilly without effort, and without desire to feel
consolation or satisfaction in them. This practised with peace and
repose of spirit will be very agreeable to God, more so, I think, than
anything else you could do. Bear this state then, letting it take the
place of the excessive application of mind which has reduced you to your
present condition. Just one word more. Believe me, if instead of the
four or five hours which you spend every day on your knees you would
spend one hour--that is a quarter of an hour after rising, another in
preparation for holy Mass, the same in thanksgiving, and one short
quarter for the evening examen--that should be quite sufficient. Try for
the love of God, by repose of body and mind, and by taking plenty of
good nourishing food, to regain your former strength. If I did not feel
it my duty to make this request I should not be writing to you so soon.
And I trust through your goodness and all your fatherliness towards us
that, for our consolation, you will not overlook anything which you feel
may help towards your recovery, or that you think will make you stronger
in the future. I have not written to our charming and lovable dearest
daughter,[B] because she does not know of your illness.

A word to the good mother, who, though we write seldom to each other, I
know to be so dear to you in Our Lord.

I pray God in His mercy to preserve you for many years for the service
of His glory and the happiness of our Congregation. Amen.

                                                     I am, Sir,
                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] Noël Brulart, Commander of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem
(better known in the correspondence of St. Jane Frances as the Commander
de Sillery), after a brilliant career at Court, where as Ambassador to
the courts of Spain and Rome he displayed all the pride and splendour
that his great revenues enabled him to gratify, fell under the influence
of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Visitation Nuns, by whom he was excited
to a higher ambition, and in 1632, in the fifty-fourth year of his age,
giving up his worldly career, became a Priest and consecrated his wealth
to relieving the unfortunate and furthering the interests of religion. A
generous benefactor to the Visitation Order, amongst many other gifts he
built the Church of the first monastery of Paris (designed by Mansard),
where he was buried. It is now, alas! the Protestant temple of the Rue
St. Antoine, near the Bastille. Commander de Sillery closed a life of
rare sanctity on the 26th Sep., 1640, in the sixty-third year of his
age. The above letter is taken from the "Lettres de S^{te} Jeanne
Françoise Frémoit de Chantal." Tournei edition. J. Casterman, 1848.

[B] Presumably Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre.

XCVI. _To the Countess de Toulonjon, at Alonne._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1634.

I see by your letter that you are in great grief, and it touches me
deeply. There is no doubt about it, your troubles are great, and viewed
in this world's judgement they are of a very distressing nature. But
look up, above these low and wretched passing things, to that blessed
eternity in which is to be found great and endless consolation, and you
will be glad that those for whom you mourn are in the happy possession
of it, and a sweet peace will fill your heart amidst the vicissitudes of
this mortal life. Ah! when shall we give a little reflection to these
truths of faith? When shall we, dearest daughter, relish the sweetness
of the divine will? When shall we see in all that happens to us the good
pleasure of God? Whether He sends prosperity or adversity, He intends
all equally for our greater good, and gives all with a love which to us
is incomprehensible. But, miserable creatures that we are, we turn into
poison the remedies meant for our cure. Let us not do this any more,
rather let us lovingly submit like obedient children and co-operate with
the designs of our heavenly Father, whose only aim in sending us
affliction is to unite us more intimately to Himself. If we so act, He
will be all to us, He will take the place of brother, son, husband,
mother, of all things. Take courage from these strengthening thoughts. I
pray Our Lord to give you a knowledge of the rich treasures which He, in
His goodness, shuts up in the afflictions He sends us.

XCVII. _Extract from a letter to M. Noël Brulart, the Commander de
Sillery, at Paris._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1634.

The state of your mind, which you narrate with so much simplicity, is
incomparably better and safer than if you were overflowing with
consolations and sensible love of God. This interior peace, this
stability in God, these lights, which although slight, transient, and
devoid of definite reasoning, yet retain the soul in the state in which
God has placed her, are all infallible marks that He reigns in you, and
give great hope that His goodness desires to lead you in a wholly
intellectual way to a state of great purity and simplicity; hence you
should, I think, my dearest brother, seek no other devotion than looking
unto God purely and simply, and letting Him accomplish His will in you.
This Divine Saviour being the only object of your affections and
desires, the solitary pleasure of your heart, all that He will
accomplish in you will be for His greater glory, and for your own
sanctification. Be, then, as content to be powerless, idle, dry, and
arid before God, as if you were actively at work, and in the enjoyment
of His gifts of devotion and contentment. As all consists in union with
God one state ought to be as pleasing to you as another. Age and health
no longer permitting you to be active, you will apparently have to spend
the remainder of your days in this heavenly exercise by which your mind
will be renewed. So will you be uninterruptedly employed in the love and
repose of God, and I believe that the fruit which will result therefrom
will enrich your soul, give glory to His divine Majesty, and even
edification to your neighbour, for this salutary exercise teaches
contempt of all earthly things, and is a great proof to the world of the
true piety and happiness that are to be so completely found in God.


[A] Taken from the "Life of Noël Brulart de Sillery," Paris, at the
Monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary, Rue d'Enfer-Saint-Michel, 72.

XCVIII. _To the Countess de Toulonjon._

Vive [+] Jésus!


You wish, my very dear daughter, to have in writing my desires in your
regard. Here they are.[A] The strongest longing I have is that you
should live as a true Christian widow, modest in dress, reserved in
action, and above all in conversation. On this account you must avoid
having to do with vain and worldly young men. If you do otherwise, my
dearest daughter, although by the grace of God I hold your virtue to be
unapproachable and feel surer of it than of my own, it might easily be
sullied, and your conduct would surely be criticised when it became
known that you receive such persons and take pleasure in their society.
I beseech of you, trust me in this. Your honour and my own and my peace
of mind are involved. I know well that there is no living in this world
without some sharing in the pleasures it offers, but, believe me, you
will never find stable enjoyment save in God, in virtue, and in a just
and reasonable attention to the education of your children, to the
management of their affairs, and to the care of your household. If you
seek it elsewhere you will have a thousand tribulations of heart and
mind. Well do I know this. I would not have you refuse the lawful
pleasure that is to be found in the upright conversation of the virtuous
and in their visits, although in the circumstances in which God has
placed you it would be desirable to receive visitors but rarely. In a
word, dearest child, for God's glory, for the love and reverence you owe
to the memory of your dear husband, for the preservation of your good
name, and the edification of your daughter, who, without doubt, models
herself upon you, you must keep your inclinations a little in check,
submitting them to God, to reason, to your own well-being and to that of
your children. You must also bear in mind what is due and becoming to
your birth and your condition and to the comfort of your neighbours. You
will be greatly helped in this by faithfully following the little
practices of devotion of which I have spoken to you, and which I will
now again set down.

Upon awakening in the morning, turn your thoughts to God present
everywhere, and place your heart and your whole being in the hands of
His goodness. Then think briefly on the good that it will be in your
power to do that day, and the evil you should avoid, above all on that
defect to which you are most subject, resolving by the grace of God to
do good and avoid evil. Having risen from bed, kneel on your bed, or
elsewhere, and adore God from the depths of your soul, thanking His
goodness for all the graces and benefits that He has bestowed upon you,
for a moment's reflection will show you how you are surrounded by His
mercies and what a special care He has had of you. This thought ought
indeed to touch your heart, which offer Him anew with your resolutions,
affections, thoughts, words and works of that day, in union with that
sacred offering which our divine Saviour made of Himself upon the tree
of the cross, and ask Him for His holy grace and assistance to guide
you through the day. Beg afterwards for His holy blessing with that of
the Blessed Virgin, of your good angel and your holy patrons, saluting
them by a simple inclination of the head and an interior act of
reverence. All this can be done in the space of two Paters and Aves.
Next, do not waste time over your toilette. As far as possible assist at
holy Mass every day as attentively and devoutly as you can by using such
holy considerations as are taught in Philothea.[B] If you cannot be
present at Mass hear it spiritually as the same book teaches. Philothea
ought to be your book of predilection and your spiritual guide. Either
during holy Mass, if you cannot give other time, or at some other hour,
withdraw a little into some quiet place every morning, and make about a
quarter of an hour's prayer from your heart, placing yourself in God's
presence, or at His sacred feet, or at those of the most holy Virgin, as
a daughter before her father or her dear mother, and converse with the
divine Majesty in humble, filial confidence. Do this either by
reflecting on some mystery of Faith, or in accordance with some need you
may have, or as your mind suggests. Conclude all by an act of great
desire of loving and pleasing God, renewing your holy resolutions and
invoking His grace. Let your chief care be to do everything with purity
of intention, and often offer up your actions to God by holy
affections, frequently calling to mind His goodness as He will suggest
or your own heart will dictate.

Read every day for a quarter or half an hour some spiritual book,
preferably Philothea. Before supper, either walking about or retiring
apart, place yourself in the hands of God by some holy aspirations.
Before going to bed examine your conscience and, prostrate before God,
adore, thank, and invoke Him, offering Him your soul. If you are able,
add the Litany of Our Lady, your attendants making the responses.
Communicate at least on each first Sunday of the month and on the chief
feasts, such as those of Our Lord, and our Lady, and the feast of St.
Joseph, to whom I wish you to be devout.

Try to subdue your passions and bring them and your inclinations under
the law of reason and of the holy will of God: otherwise you will never
have anything but trouble and uneasiness of soul. God permits or sends
to His predestined children, for their good and as a means of bringing
them to His glorious beatitude, the afflictions and contradictions of
this life. My dearest daughter, if you are so happy as sweetly and
patiently to accept all that He sends, then be assured you will begin to
taste even here on earth something of the delights of the blessed
eternity of glory. But for this you must serve God willingly and love
Him supremely, seeking His pleasure, choosing His divine will through
holy obedience in preference to your own will, desires, or inclinations.

May God in His sweet goodness grant you this grace, dearest daughter; I
unceasingly implore it of Him from my heart, which is that of one who
loves you as her own with her entire capacity for loving. Amen.


[A] These counsels had been given verbally by St. Jane Frances to Madame
de Toulonjon at the time of her sojourn at Annecy, where she came to
pass the first months of her widowhood, and the Saint at the request of
her daughter wrote them down for her so that she might be able often to
read them over, and thus more faithfully adhere to her mother's pious

[B] "The Introduction to a Devout Life," by St. Francis de Sales,
Chapter XIV. of the second part.

XCIX. _To Sister Marie Aimée de Rabutin,[A] Mistress of Novices at

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                        PARIS, 1635.

You attribute everything to your negligence! Accept the good that comes
to you, and when God withdraws Himself do not run after Him. You are
always doing His will provided you keep yourself under His hand without
desiring anything whatsoever save to do His will. These doubts against
Faith that you tell me of He permits so that you may make frequent acts
of this virtue. For you see, my daughter, He only sends temptations to
souls whom He intends to raise to high perfection. All the doubts and
fears lest you may have consented come from the evil spirit. Pay no heed
to them, unless to say, "Get thee behind me, Satan, for I am at peace in


[A] Marie Aimée de Rabutin possessed all the caustic wit for which the
de Rabutins were distinguished, and had no other thought than of
pleasure and of her independence, until St. Jane Frances won her to
Christ. "Make haste, my daughter," she said to her, "for God is the
enemy of delay." From the entrance of Mademoiselle de Rabutin into the
Monastery of Annecy (1624) her fervour was without bounds, and were it
not for obedience her austerities would have shortened her life. When
she was elected Superior at Thonon St. Jane Frances said to the
outsister who came to fetch her: "Make the most of the time your new
Superior rules you, for you have never had and perhaps never will have
her equal." She governed several monasteries and died in 1678. Her
praises are summed up in these words of St. Jane Frances: "When once
Mother Marie Aimée returns to Annecy she must not be taken away again,
for although she is my relative, I cannot help saying that she has
always been a living rule and a model of perfect observance." (Archives
of the Visitation, Annecy.)

C. _To M. Noël Brulart, Commander de Sillery, at Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   _2nd July, 1636._

I certainly have no wish to delay in answering your kind and cordial
letter, which gives such a lucid account of the finale of this wicked
affair[A], and above all of the good odour of those little servants of
the Lord, our Sisters of the Faubourg, and of the reparation made to
them. Oh! how good God is! and how prompt in coming by ways which
confound the prudence of the worldly-wise to the succour of the
innocent. For the greatness of His mercies may He be for ever blessed!
You must have been deeply moved in the goodness of your heart on
witnessing such a marked and fatherly interposition of Providence in
this grave crisis. Truly happy are the souls who repose entirely in the
pitying and loving bosom of this heavenly Father. You cannot think what
this grace has wrought in my heart towards God, whom we can never
sufficiently thank for it, and towards you, my very dear Father, for the
incomparable assistance which you have given these poor daughters of
mine. It is quite impossible to express to you what I feel, and always
shall feel, for the succour and the support in all our necessities which
God has given us through you is a priceless treasure from which we draw
both spiritual and temporal profit. May the sweet Saviour bless you with
His richest graces and recompense you with His divine love. My poor
Sisters needed this experience so that they might learn to trust
themselves entirely to your paternal care. They have written to me
expressing their gratitude and begging of me to help them to return you
fitting thanks. It is a sweet Providence, I cannot but think, that has
permitted the evil act of that miserable man, so that by means of it a
more complete union should be established between our two monasteries
(of Paris), and that Our Lord should have made use of you as the bond of
union, for they themselves recognize this and write of it to me. God be
blessed! This story deserves to be recorded for posterity. But if it is
possible I should be glad to know every circumstance of it in detail,
for from certain things that have been written to me, it seems as if
this man took the money to invest it for the benefit of our Sisters. I
want to know the truth about this, and for what object it was confided
to him. My Sister, the Superior of the Faubourg, tells me that on
Sunday evening when I had said adieu to her, M. de Lamoignon took
fifty-four thousand francs of it to buy an office for his son. I am
asking Sister to write to me about this matter, for you must not trouble
to do so....

We have visited our houses of Pont-Saint-Esprit, Avignon, Montpellier,
Arles, Aix, and Marseilles, where certainly everything is blessed, and
in all of which the observance is kept with great exactitude. It is most
consoling to see on all sides how the Sisters love and esteem their
vocation. All these houses have excellent Superiors. When at Aix we saw
those of Digne, Draguignan, Grasse, and Forcalquier. The four are
invaluable Mothers capable of putting their hands to anything in which
divine Providence may employ them, and of rendering all manner of good
service to God and the Institute.

We also met at Aix the Superiors of Sisteron, Apt, and Toulon, humble
and virtuous souls, but not possessing the useful talents of the first
four. In returning from Provence I stopped at our house of Crest, where
I again found very good Sisters with a young Mother of thirty, but of a
capable mind, judicious and zealous. She keeps straight to the grand
road of the Rule, "for fear," she says, "of going astray." She gave me
great satisfaction. Now I am at Valence, where it appears to me the
community is feeling somewhat the effects of having had young Superiors
for eight years in succession; nevertheless they keep to the exterior
observance and manifest an ardent desire to profit by our stay. I have
not yet spoken with them, but I intend to do so. The Superior is good,
gentle, capable, and willing, but is wanting in experience; this, please
God, will come. These Sisters are in need of one who is firm and
experienced. I hope, as next year will be that of their election, that
God will look after them in this matter according to their needs.

Pardon my bad writing, but I forget half I wish to say. We went from
Marseilles to Sainte-Baume, a place of great devotion.

Always your very humble, obedient, and obliged daughter, and servant in
Our Lord.


[A] We quote the following extract from the "History of the Foundation
of the Visitation Order": "A person of good social position had, it is
said, borrowed a very large sum of money from the Second monastery of
the Visitation at Paris, promising immediately to send a written
acknowledgement of this loan, and to repay it at the end of a fortnight.
But upon receiving the money he at once absconded. Informed of his
departure, Mother Marie Agnes Le Roy took active steps to recover the
money, which was the entire capital of her community. The immediate
result of her inquiries was that the affair became public, and the
friends of the accused, who were very numerous, all took his part and
spread the grossest calumnies against the victims of his treachery. But
God taking charge of their defence providentially brought back to Paris
the culprit, who thus fell into the hands of those who were seeking him.
He made restitution, in so far as to acknowledge with confusion that he
had taken the money, intending to speculate with it, but he appears to
have been unable to restore to the Convent the entire sum."

The Nuns claimed no other punishment for him than the avowal of his
discreditable conduct.

CI. _To Mother Marie Agnes Le Roy, Superior of the Second Monastery of

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                      VALENCE, 1636.

For this indeed you are to me in so peculiar and intimate a way that no
dearer term can I add to it, and no other feeling than this loving one
could my heart entertain towards you, seeing the way in which you look
upon the true and solid lights and affections of heart that God has
given you. My daughter, I am quite enchanted with your letter.[A] I
cannot keep myself from kissing it and pressing it to my heart, for
every word of it from beginning to end has deeply moved me. I shall
carefully treasure it. Nothing else have I to say, my true daughter, if
not that you ought, in order fully and worthily to correspond with such
graces, to keep your heart firmly set on God, and casting out all that
is not He, jealously and faithfully preserve the rare treasure which the
divine Goodness has confided to your hands. Spread the good odour all
you can in the hearts of your daughters, and may everyone who comes in
contact with you feel that the virtues of the crucified and despised
Saviour go out from you. Recommend my heart with your own to Him and let
them be as one in His divine love.


[A] This letter, which so charmed St. Jane Frances, contained an account
of the intimate feelings of Mother Marie Agnes Le Roy, when she found
herself under the calumny spoken of in the preceding letter to the
Commander de Sillery. To quote from her letter: "It seems to me," she
says, "that it is a particular grace to have been chosen to bear this
humiliation. Our Lord is so good that He gives me very great pleasure
and contentment in it, because it shows His special love for me, and
seeing that it has all happened to imprint in my heart the spirit of
lowliness and humility I am greatly consoled and incited to redouble my
little efforts to procure Him glory....

"Ah, my dear mother, how wise such occurrences make us, and what fruit
they bear!" (History of the Foundation of the Second Monastery of

CII. _To Sister Anne Louise de Marin de Saint Michel, Superior at

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _April 5th, 1637._

May our most gentle Saviour in His goodness fill our souls with the
merits of His holy Passion! Alas! my daughter, if you knew me such as I
really am you would not desire many years of life for me in this valley
of tears, but rather that God in His merciful goodness should soon take
me to Himself. Still less should you think that sanctity was ripe in me,
for truly all I can discover within my soul is very great poverty and
misery. To speak quite in confidence to you and to you alone: it has
pleased the divine Goodness to deprive me of all light and consolation,
and to let me be overwhelmed with darkness and affliction. In a word, I
am she for whom our good Mother has asked you to pray, and I beseech you
to do it with all the compassionate affection and the loving charity
which God has put into your heart for me. For indeed, dearest daughter,
I am in sore need of your prayers; no other desire am I conscious of
save that God may hold me in His blessed hands and so keep me from
offending Him. To do and suffer all, for and according to His good
pleasure, is enough for me. I tell you all quite openly in order that
you may speak of me to the _Heart_ of our divine Saviour, whom I bless
and thank for the graces that He continues to bestow upon you, with the
growth of that intimate realization of His divine presence. Oh, how
precious, how glorious is this grace! Yet this gift of His presence is
not the same as His presence in the divine Sacrament, where His Sacred
Body and Soul and Divinity all in the most real sense dwell with us, and
remain with us in our miserable tabernacles until the species is
consumed. Nevertheless in the gift of the presence of God this eternal
Truth remains in us by essence, by power, and by grace, and to be
conscious of this is an exceptional favour. You will understand this
better by reading the books that treat of it. In the "Treatise of Divine
Love" I think you will find it admirably explained. What I now tell you
I have learnt there, or heard in sermons. Oh! what a happiness for a
soul to possess her God in peace, and to be possessed entirely by Him! I
am surprised that what I say contents you and gives you peace, but it is
because our good God makes all things work to good for those who love

Once again I beseech of you to recommend me to His divine mercy, and I
pray that in you He may perfect His rare graces. All you have to do is
to leave yourself in the hands of this heavenly Workman, and to be very
faithful in paying no heed to what passes in you, but always keep the
eye of your mind fixed on God. Of a truth I desire myself to be very
attentive to this point, but my mind is so restless that I am not able
to do so, and this is a constant trouble to me. See how I give you all
my confidence. Will you not also tell me your thoughts, and it will be a
consolation and a profit to me, if God so wills. May He bless you and
all your Sisters to whose devout prayers I recommend myself. Those
amongst us are most blessed who long for the holy perfection of their
vocation. Divine Providence when it sees well will increase their
number, neither will it fail to provide all things necessary for the
maintenance of those who leave themselves in its care and only think of
conforming to its good pleasure.

Believe me, always yours entirely in our Lord. May He be blessed.

Palm Sunday. On this day Holy Church bids us sing,

  "The Saviour comes in the multitude of His mercies."

May our souls eternally praise Him. Amen.

CIII. _To the Abbê de Vaux._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1637.

May the sacred love of our divine Saviour be our eternal life! The
little preface or pretended excuse in your letter is not quite in
keeping with the simple confidence with which we have resolved to treat
each other, which I believe God desires and ratifies, and with the
profession you make of wishing to live in the entire simplicity and
candour of the Visitation spirit, which one certainly cannot but see in
you. I bless God for it with all my heart, and know not how to thank Him
for His infinite Goodness in having given such a friend to our
Congregation, and such a support to the new plant which Providence has
set in the garden of the church of Angers. Now I say all this straight
out from my heart; will you not receive it, then, in this wise, my very
dear brother, and unite with me in praising God, for to Him we owe it
all. He is the sole author of all good things, hence should all glory be
referred to Him. Your whole bearing with our Sisters is extremely
pleasing to me. Sister Mary Euphrasia Turpin has a good heart, a fine
intelligence, and loves the Rule, which I advise her closely to follow,
above all in the guidance of her Novices. Will you not also give her
this advice? You will find her pliant, open, and easy to convince.

We must let Mother Claire Madeleine de Pierre complete her three
years,[B] and I hope by that time divine Providence will have provided a
successor. It is a very serious matter in a new foundation when a
superior is often ill, and cannot follow the common life. By seeking
pretexts, without necessity, to dispense herself, however little, from
the exercises, she does great harm to herself and her community. She who
ought to be a model of good example to her Sisters. How miserable and
dangerous is this false liberty. May God preserve us from it! What
responsibility have not such superiors on their consciences, and what an
account they will have to render, not only for their own faults but for
those which have been committed in imitation of them, and for impeding
their own perfection and that of those under their care. This is
far-reaching, my dear brother, so speak of it occasionally, I beg of
you. A true daughter of the Visitation is a great treasure--may God give
us all the grace to become such. You do not tell me if the Sisters are
still in your house. How good you are to them! I pray God to reward you
with the glorious gift of His eternal City. To Him you owe much for
having given you the heart and the generous soul you possess, wherein
there is but the one desire, to serve Him. Go forward, dear brother,
forward, always advancing and increasing in the purity and perfection of
divine love, and may God give you the grace faithfully to correspond to
the great favours He bestows upon you. This is, I know, your great wish,
and I seem to see our Blessed Father looking down upon you as one of His
most cherished children. God knows how I esteem you in His sight. But
alas! my own poverty and misery are beyond description. May God diminish
them for the sake of His glory. I trust to His Goodness and to the
prayers that are offered for my needs....

There is no doubt that this difficulty of not being able to make
considerations in prayer leads to a more simple form of prayer, and a
soul thus led ought to adhere to this way to which God is undoubtedly
calling her, however faint may be the call, and although the calm and
facility of dwelling reverently before Him which it brings be but
slight. Neither ought she to forsake it because of her indigent state
nor because of her wanderings of mind, but remain patiently and
tranquilly before Our Lord, not giving willing consent to distractions,
but when worried by them just say from time to time words of submission,
abandonment, confidence, and love of the divine will, and give up
discoursing with the understanding; indeed it is useless to split our
heads trying to do so, for it will be of no avail. The great secret of
prayer is to follow our attraction and to go to it in good faith.

A soul who wishes to live in the presence of God should be very faithful
to the practice of virtue, to great purity of heart, and to an
unconditional surrender of herself to the divine will. When she sees
herself walking in this way she need fear nothing, but if she has great
consolations and facilities in prayer without the practice of these
virtues, she certainly ought to fear. Truly this manner of prayer has in
its simplicity a wonderful power of leading souls to a total
despoliation of themselves. Yet they usually enjoy neither relish nor
sensible devotion.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] Guy Lanier Abbé de Vaux not only put his own house at the disposal
of the Sisters foundresses of the Visitation at Angers, but continued in
after years to give them constant proofs of his paternal affection. He
was one of the most virtuous ecclesiastics of the seventeenth century.

[B] Each election in the Visitation Monasteries is for a period of three

CIV. _To a great Servant of God._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                   _December, 1637._

May Our Lord fill our souls with the consolations and with the merits of
His most holy Nativity.

It is about a month since I received your letter of November 9th in
which I read your true goodness and loving care of me in my never-ending
trials. However, by the grace of God they are somewhat less acute than
when I last wrote. At that time Our Lord had sent me a great sorrow in
the death of the virtuous Mother (de Châtel), who is a serious loss to
me. It seems as if God wishes to deprive me of all help both of nature
and of grace. This our Blessed Father prophecied to me before I was a
Religious. With all my heart I adore the most holy will of God, and the
only good I desire is its complete fulfilment. May I have the grace
never to resist it. If it is perfectly wrought out in me how happy I
shall be. Pray for this, dearest Mother, I beg of you. Strange to say,
when writing to you I can never altogether keep back my tears, though
otherwise I rarely weep, unless perchance when I reflect upon those
precious virtues[A] of which I feel deprived, and thoughts against them
rise up within me that are like daggers to my heart. Yet I am conscious
that these divine treasures exist, but where I know not, and it seems to
me that I do at least desire them and would willingly suffer anything in
order to have the enjoyment of them. My mind pictures untold delights
for souls who possess them: were I to dwell on this thought I should be
parched up with sorrow, because I care for nothing in comparison with
them. Could I be so fortunate as to die for Holy Church, nay, even for
the least article of our Faith, how happy I should be; for, thank God,
there is no point that I doubt about, though it seems to me that I am
destitute of all faith.

To tell you further, dearest Mother, shortly after my last letter to you
it pleased the divine Goodness somewhat to relieve me of the great
oppression and desolation from which I was then suffering, by giving me
a sensible feeling of the divine presence. I have already told you that
I have never been altogether without some slight and almost
imperceptible feeling of the presence of God, by which in the midst of a
storm of troubles and temptations my spirit never wholly loses its
tranquility, and as long as I maintain myself in that presence my soul
is calm notwithstanding the piteous struggle. When it first pleased our
Lord to give me some relief in the terrible temptations under which I
laboured for so many years after I made my Vow,[B] I received the grace
of a simple consciousness of His presence at prayer, and remaining in it
I used to surrender myself up to Him and become absorbed and at rest in
Him. This favour has not been withdrawn from me, notwithstanding that by
my infidelities I have often hindered it; yielding to apprehensions that
I should be useless in this state, and, wanting to do something on my
own part, I used to spoil all. I am still often subject to this same
fear, not, however, when at prayer, but at other exercises; I am always
wanting to make acts, or to do something, and yet I feel that by so
doing I am taking myself from my centre--that this looking straight at
God alone is the only remedy for me, the sole relief in all the
troubles, temptations, and accidents of life. If I followed my
attraction, I should certainly never seek any other way than this, for
when I think to fortify my soul by reflections and discourses, or by
acts of resignation, for all of which I have to do violence to self, I
only succeed in exposing myself to fresh troubles and temptations, and
finding therein nought but dryness and dissatisfaction, I have perforce
to return to this simple surrender to God. Apparently He wishes thus to
show me that He desires on this subject a total cutting off of the
activities and workings of my mind, so that His activity and not mine
should undertake the care of all. Mayhap He requires this of me not only
on the subject of Faith but on all others as well, for in every trouble
and in every spiritual exercise to look at Him is all that He seems to
want of me, and the more unwaveringly I do so the better I find myself,
and the quicker my troubles pass. But the activity of my mind is such
that I am always in need of comfort and encouragement. Alas! my dearest
Father often spoke to me of this. Yet recalling the past, I see that my
sufferings at that time were not the troubles I now endure. Then it was
only my distracted prayers and such-like trifles that troubled and
sometimes deceived me, for which I am not sorry, as there was no real
danger; God was there, and I had only to keep myself steadfast to Him.
But in my present trials I am as one always on the edge of a precipice.

Our late Mother (Péronne de Châtel) was an immense help to me, for she
taught me to walk with simplicity, firmly and fearlessly in the presence
of God, and that sufficed for all. The more completely I am stript of
all sentiment, all relish, all repose in God, the more do I seem to gain
strength and peace of soul, and the more clearly do I see that there is
nothing to lean upon but God alone, purely, and simply. One of our
Sisters[C] is drawn by this absolute detachment to a degree that it is
almost impossible to surpass, and our good Mother (de Châtel) told me
that God gave this Sister to me as an example to follow. She wrote at
the request of our late Mother an account of her interior state to which
I have added in detail. She is a soul of great virtue and her detachment
is marvellous. Speaking of this, some days ago, Our Lord gave me a light
so vivid and set it before me in a manner so luminous that I saw without
a shadow of doubt that I must no longer cast my eyes upon myself about
anything whatsoever, nor even question my Beloved, but in all simplicity
and repose become absorbed in Him. Now since this day of alleviation it
seems to me that I have kept myself more continuously in God's presence,
and I have but seldom had those violent temptations--only two or three

This is, I think, all that I can give myself time to say at present. If
I have not expressed myself well to this distinguished servant of God
you will not fail to understand me and will tell me what he says.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] The following extract from a letter of St. Francis to Mme. de
Chantal, March 28th, 1612, tells us what these virtues were: he says,
"But let us come to the interior trial which you write to me about. It
is in reality a certain insensibility which deprives you of the
enjoyment not only of consolations and inspirations but also of faith,
hope, and charity. You have them all the time, and in a very good
condition, but you do not enjoy them: in fact you are like an infant
whose guardian takes away from him the administration of all his goods
in such sort that, while in reality all is his, yet he handles and seems
to possess no more than what he requires for living, and as St. Paul
says in this, 'He differeth nothing from a servant though he be lord of
all things.' In the same way, my dear daughter, God does not want you to
have the management of your faith, your hope, or of your charity, nor to
enjoy them except just to live, and to use them on occasions of pure

[B] On September 2nd, 1604, Saint Jane Frances made a vow of perpetual
chastity and of obedience to St. Francis de Sales, from this time until
her death she suffered from temptations against Faith in varying
intensity. On Oct. 4th of this same year (1604), St. Francis wrote to
her, "You ask a remedy for the temptations against faith which assail
you. Never argue with them, but do as the children of Israel, who threw
the bones of the Paschal Lamb into the fire without attempting to break
them," and again: "Oh, my daughter, it is a good sign when the enemy
urges so vehemently from without, it is a sign he is not within."

[C] Sister Anne Marie Rosset.

CV. _To Mother Marie Aimée de Rabutin, Superior at Thonon._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                               _October 15th, 1639._

May God be always blessed in all things and may He be particularly
blessed for the good health you tell me you enjoy, and for the care you
take to do all that is prescribed to keep you well. I am sending you a
box of lozenges. Take them as directed besides the other remedies. I beg
of you to take them regularly, for they are sweet, not unpleasant, and
very inexpensive. Do not, I beseech of you, undertake any extra fasting
nor abstain more than you can easily manage. Continue cheerfully to make
use of the little alleviations that are settled for you, and any others
that your weakness may require, just as you would see that others did.
Drink your wine, at least half your portion, for your wine-cups are very
small.[A] Neither rise earlier nor go to bed later than the others, nor
undertake any laborious work, for I know your health would not stand
it. Take the discipline only on Fridays. Possess your spirit in peace
and calm, and pass gently through this miserable life, not taking too
much to heart the faults of your sisters, nor their little ways of
worrying you. Do your best amongst them, and leave the rest to God.
Pray, and get prayers, that it may please God to turn the miseries and
calamities of this world to His glory and to the salvation of His
people, and do not forget me. If you would like me to write to Sister J.
Antoine I will do so. However, she must be kept to the promises she made
to me--tell her that I have spoken to you about them and have asked you
to let me know how she is going on. May God be your support. Blessed be
He and His holy Mother. Amen.


[A] These wine-cups held about two small glasses.

CVI. _To St. Vincent de Paul at Paris._


Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1640.

Praised be our divine Saviour who for His great glory and the salvation
of many souls has brought your dear children happily here. Their coming
is a subject of thanksgiving to Our Lord from everyone, but most of all
from the Bishop of Geneva and myself, to whom it is an unbounded
consolation. We look upon them as our true brothers, with whom, in
simple openheartedness and confidence we are as one, and they too feel
this. I have had a conversation with them, and truly they speak as if
they were daughters of the Visitation. All are full of goodness and
candour. The third and the fifth need a little help to get out of
themselves. I shall tell their Superior, M. Escarts, of it. He is a
Saint, and a man truly equal to his charge. I have given them each a
practice of virtue. With God's help, for our mutual consolation and to
obey you, I will always lovingly continue so to do, for indeed, my dear
Father, there is much to speak of to these dear souls. The good Father
N. has manifested his own difficulties to me with the utmost simplicity.
He has an upright heart and a good judgement, but it will be difficult
for him to persevere. I have begged of him to put aside all thought of
either leaving or staying, and to apply himself in good earnest to do
God's work, leaving himself trustfully to His Providence. I wish he
could settle down, as he is a soul of great promise. In fact they are
all charming and have already given great edification in this town
during the three or four days that they have been here. Their spirit is
very like that of my dear and good Father.

CVII. _To Sister Claire-Marie-Françoise de Cusance[A] at Gray._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1640.

Your letter fills me with tender compassion, but it also gives me very
real comfort, seeing how joyfully God is enabling you to make your
passage through this life to Him. You will love and adore Him in an
eternity of glory, for this is the only good that is worth setting our
hearts upon. Here we are all regretting your absence, and envying you
your happiness, but our regret and our envy are more than balanced by
our gratitude to God who is taking you so mercifully to Himself. Oh! how
hard and long is this life for those who yearn to be with Him! You must
do, my daughter, as your good Mother desires about your state of health.

Most earnestly do I beg of you to ask God that I may live and die in His
grace and according to His good pleasure. Do not refuse me this favour,
and when you see Him do not forget to speak to Him about me. Be kind to
me in this.

                          I remain,
                              Yours affectionately in His love. Amen


[A] This religious belonged to the ancient family of the Counts of
Berghen, Champlitte, and Belvoir. At the age of thirteen, upon the
foundation of the Monastery of Champlitte, she was taken there and given
the title of Foundress. Her arrival was the signal for a great ovation.
Cannons boomed forth their welcome, while the Magistrates harangued, and
the people cheered her, acclaiming the great and good deeds of her
ancestors. In this wise did the child enter into her new life of
poverty, obedience, and chastity. Soon after her entrance the war
between France and Spain obliged the Community to leave Champlitte for
the little town of Gray. Here fresh trials awaited it; the plague broke
out, and so awful were its ravages that the town was soon a veritable
sepulchre. Yet none of the terrors that surrounded her shook the
resolution of the brave child. Full of confidence in God she remained
calm and joyful in the midst of unheard-of privations.

The fame of her courage and her virtue went abroad and even before her
profession she was the object of public veneration, for the people loved
her and claimed her as their own heroine. At the age of sixteen, Sister
Claire-Marie-Françoise de Cusance made her solemn vows and became the
Saint Stanislaus Kostka of the Visitation. She died two years after her
profession, having spent those eighteen years of life more like an angel
than a woman, and having enjoyed many supernatural communications. No
sooner was her death known, than the Mayor ordered all the bells of the
town of Gray to be tolled, on which the inhabitants at once announced
their intention of assisting at the obsequies with torch-lights to
honour not so much her birth as her high virtue. The Visitation
Monastery had not as yet a cemetery of their own, so the religious of
the Annunciation, at their urgent request were given the holy remains,
which for some days they exposed to public veneration. Numerous were the
graces obtained during those days by the devout inhabitants through the
mediation of the holy nun. Her portrait was circulated in Flanders where
[like Soeur Thérèse of Lisieux in our day] she was venerated, though not
yet on the Altars of the Church. Fourteen days after the obsequies had
been celebrated a religious of the Annunciation wrote to the Mother
Superior of the Visitation at Gray. "This dear deceased is still quite
beautiful and her body quite flexible, the veins are to be seen in her
person as in a living body, which proves to us that it was truly the
temple of a pure and angelic soul. Several persons have noticed a
fragrant perfume exhaling from the coffin, and others have received
extraordinary graces and interior illumination when praying beside it."
(Taken from Vol. IX. of the "Lives of the Sisters of the Visitation.")

CVIII. _To Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos,[A] Lay Sister at Turin._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1640.

Your few words explaining your interior occupation have made your soul
as clear to me as if it lay open before mine eyes. All that passes
within you and without you is God's own work.

Regarding your interior life, my advice is: Give God a free hand to do
as He likes, while you look on in loving simplicity. And as to the
exterior: Practise virtue by making faithful use from moment to moment
of the opportunities provided by divine Providence. But it is
superfluous for me to offer advice, as the heart that is governed by God
needs no other guidance. Beseech of Him in His goodness, my dear
daughter, to accomplish in us His holy will, without let or hindrance on
our part.

                                                         Yours, etc.


[A] Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos died at Turin, in the odour of sanctity,
November 5th, 1692. Her life was written under the title of "The Charm
of Divine Love," and it possesses all the beauty of true mysticism. It
is hoped that one day she may be raised to the Altars of the Church. St.
Jane Frances said of her: "From the day of her profession she seemed no
longer to be on earth."

CIX. _To the Sister Louise-Angélique de la Fayette,[A] at the First
Monastery of Paris._

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                       ANNECY, 1641.

Though not personally acquainted with you, none the less do I know and
dearly love you. Your letter shows me quite clearly the state of your
mind, and the source of your trouble and embarrassment. It comes from
your over-eagerness in seeking to arrive at the perfection you desire,
instead of patiently and submissively awaiting the will of Him who alone
can give it to you. Now if you wish truly to acquire the spirit of your
vocation you will have to correct this fault, and carry out whatever
instructions are given you, gently and faithfully, repressing your
desires and your thoughts in order, in God's good time, to become a
true Visitation nun. I think, if I am not mistaken, that you are not
content simply to make acts requisite for your training in perfection,
but you want to feel and be conscious that you have made them. This
satisfaction you should give up, and content yourself with saying to God
without sensible feeling: "I wish with all my heart to perform such and
such practices of virtue for Thy good pleasure." Then perform them
although with dryness and wish for nothing better than in this manner
lovingly to serve Him. If you do this you will soon find yourself in
possession of that calm and holy peace so necessary to souls who desire
to live by the spirit, and not according to their own views and
inclinations. Your repose and spiritual advancement depend, I can see,
on these things. May God fill you with Himself and give you the grace to
practice all that is taught you by her to whose guidance He has
committed you.

                                          I am affectionately yours.


[A] Marie-Louise Motier de la Fayette became maid of honour to Anne of
Austria at the age of fourteen. Her beauty and the promise of great
ability for which she was afterwards so remarkable attracted the King
Louis XIII. His devotion to her which lasted all his life was that of a
brother to a most dear sister. He turned to her in his troubles and
relied and acted on her advice. When at the age of nineteen she decided
to retire into the Monastery of the Visitation, for which she had not
ceased to long during her short life at Court, the King opposed her
vocation, but seeing that her happiness was bound up with it he at last
gave his consent. Yet he never ceased to visit this devoted friend who
continued to exercise over him a wise and salutary influence. Richelieu,
jealous of her power with the King, was sensibly relieved by her
entrance into religion. However, hearing one day that Louis had spent
three hours at the Rue St. Antoine with this young religious, he was
thoroughly frightened, and sending for Père Caussin, the King's
confessor, he said: "I am greatly astonished that the King has made such
a mystery to me of this visit. It has caused a great sensation, and the
public are persuaded that the consequences of it will be serious. My
friends have come to offer to defend me at the peril of their lives."
"What can you mean, Monseigneur?" replied the Jesuit Father. "Surely you
do not fear Mademoiselle de la Fayette? she is but a child." "You are a
simple man," replied the Cardinal, pressing the Priest's hand; "but you
will have to learn the wickedness of the world. Know then that this
child has had it in her mind to ruin all."

Notwithstanding the discontent--nay, even the abject terror--of the
powerful Cardinal, Louis continued his visits, which always took place
in the grilled parlour: for although as King he had a right to enter the
monastery he never took advantage of this royal privilege.

Upon the foundation of the monastery of Chaillot, for which Henrietta
Maria of England herself chose the house, Mlle. de la Fayette, now
Sister Louise-Angélique, was sent as one of the foundresses, and was
elected Superior there on the decease of Mother L'huillier. After the
death of Louis XIII., Louis XIV., Charles II., and James II. of England,
Anne of Austria, and Marie Thérèse, all continued to frequent the
monastery in order to learn how to sanctify respectively their triumphs
or their misfortunes. The unfortunate Queen Henrietta Maria took up her
residence there. Mlle. D'Aumale, afterwards Queen of Poland, the
Princess Louise Hollandine, daughter of Frederick V. of Bohemia (the
champion of Protestanism in Germany) and grand-daughter of James I. of
England, were instructed by and lived with the nuns. Later, Marie
Beatrice, widow of James II., lived at the monastery. Yet all this
concourse of the great ones of the world did not tarnish the virtue nor
dissipate the mind of that lover of solitude and of penance, Louise
Angélique de la Fayette. She died as Superior at Chaillot, January 11th,
1665, loved and venerated by all who knew her. It is little known that
the world owes the birth of Louis XIV. to the wise advice of this holy
nun, who pressed home upon the King his conjugal duty.

Taken from, firstly, the original manuscript letter of Père Caussin, S.
J., to Sister de la Fayette, found amongst her papers after her death;
secondly, from the memoirs of Mme. de Motteville, a personal friend of
Sister de la Fayette; thirdly, from the History of Louis XIII., by P.
Griffet, who had recourse to the memoir of Père Caussin for these

CX. _To Madame the Duchess de Montmorency (née des Ursins)._[A]

Vive [+] Jésus!

                                                  _19th June, 1641._

I bless and thank our good God for enabling you so courageously to show
forth the power of His divine Love. Your entrance into Religion will be
for His greater glory and for the happiness of our little Congregation.
O my dearest Sister, My well beloved of God, with what overflowing
consolation you have filled my soul! I have just received your letter,
which has been a long time on the road, and I now write in haste not to
lose the opportunity of this messenger who goes direct to Lyons, as I am
anxious to tell you that I consider that in no way have I now either the
strength or the capacity to undertake the superiorship of any of our

The Bishop and our Sisters, the latter very unwillingly, have partly
consented not to have me re-elected here. Still, I assure you if his
Lordship gives me an obedience to go to you I do not think I could
possibly have a command more to my liking, and I pray God if this is His
will that He may inspire the Bishop to send me. It would be an immense
consolation to me to give the veil to one so full of desire as you are
to revive the true spirit of our Blessed Father. May our good God
complete in you the high perfection which He has so gloriously begun.

I am most truly your poor humble and unworthy servant in Our Lord, etc.


[A] When becoming a postulant at the Visitation, the Duchess de
Montmorency wished not only to renounce her titles of nobility, but also
to change her baptismal name of Marie-Félice, a custom which was not
usual at that time. She was named Marie after Marie de Medicis, and
Félice after her maternal uncle Félix Peretti (Pope Sixtus the Fifth).
At her clothing she dropped these names and was from henceforth only
known as Sister M. Henriette. She became Superior at Moulins some years
after the death of St. Jane Frances.

CXI. _To a Novice._

Vive [+] Jésus!


I have been absent for four weeks, and only yesterday on my return
received your letter. It gave me, I assure you, very great consolation,
and I am full of gratitude to the God of divine goodness for His mercies
to you. The evil spirit cannot give this attraction you speak of; he
draws us away from good. On the other hand, our loving Saviour sheds His
perfume in our hearts, so that young souls may be drawn to follow Him by
the sweetness of His odour.

Rejoice, then, in this grace with great humility, my dearest brother,
and by means of it grow stronger in your vocation and in the practice of
all virtue, above all in that of self-renunciation, so that you may
advance in union of soul with God. Give yourself wholly into His hands.
That done, have no fear of the evil spirit but of God alone, for, having
quitted all things and yourself in your desire to belong to Him, Satan
can do you no harm. Go forward quite simply, ruminating but little. The
affection I feel for you, as a mother for her son, draws from me these
words of advice, but I know the best counsel is not wanting to you where
you are. May God lead you Himself to the height of perfection to which
He has called you, and always keep you within His holy hand. I never
forget to ask this of His Goodness. Neither do you forget me when
speaking to Him.

                       Believe me, I am, and always will be,
                                        Your most affectionate, etc.

                   *       *       *       *       *

                         _Printed in England_

Transcriber's Notes:

Words surrounded by _ are italicized.

Small capitals are presented as all capitals in this e-text.

Symbol ^(carat) followed by curly brackets indicate superscript,
therefore "S^{te}" means "S" followed by superscripted "te".

Symbol [+] represents the  cross pattée symbol (a crucifix with four
uniform-length limbs).

Obvious printer's errors have been repaired, other inconsistent
spellings have been kept, including inconsistent use of diacritical mark
(e.g. "Abbé" and "Abbê"), inconsistent use of hyphen (e.g. "Françoise
Gasparde" and "Françoise-Gasparde").

Page 122, word "be" added to sentence "...how the Office ought to [be]

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