|Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac|
|Born||December 27, 1556Bordeaux, France,|
|Died||February 2, 1640 (aged 83)|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||1900 by Pope Leo XIII|
|Canonized||May 15, 1949 by Pope Pius XII|
|Patronage||abuse victims, people rejected by religious orders, widows|
Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac (alternately known as Joan of Lestonnac) (born December 27, 1556 - February 2, 1640) is a Roman Catholic saint and founderess of the order The Company of Mary Our Lady. Though she lived in the 17th century her body remains incorrupt.
Sainte Jeanne de Lestonnac was born in Bordeaux, France in 1556 to a prominent family. Her father, Richard de Lestonnac, was a member of the French Parliament while her mother, Jeanne Eyquem, was the sister of the philosopher, Michel de Montaigne. She grew up in a time where the conflict between the Protestant reformists and the defenders of the Catholic faith was at its height. This was evident in her family. While her mother was an enthuasiatic Calvinist, her father and her uncle Montaigne, adhered to the Catholic tradition.
At the age of 17 she married Baron de Montferrand-Landiras and had 3 children, but passed after they were born. Later on she had 5 more children, 2 boys, 3 girls. She was married for 24 years before her husband died. This marked a painful time in her life where not only her husband but her father, uncle and eldest son also died.
She didn't feel "complete" after 4 of the great men she loved, died, she felt God was calling her for a plan and needed "sacrifice" to make it complete. Therefore, she joined the Company of Mary Our Lady and was known as Sister Jeanne - Bernard. Once her life was there, she found out her 2 eldest daughters were interested in becoming nuns. She was so grateful that her daughters were chosen for such a life.
Following her husband's death, Jeanne de Lestonnac turned to a contemplative life and entered the Cistercian Monastery in Toulouse at the age of 46 and took the name Jeanne of Saint Bernard. After the leaving the monastery she lived in the La Mothe countryside and began a period of deep discernment. In 1607, at the age of 51, and with the approval of Pope Paul V she established the religious order: The Company of Mary Our Lady. She envisions the essential task of the order is to educate girls. Soon the order established its first school for girls in Bordeaux. By the time she died in 1640 at the age of 84, 30 houses existed in France.
Jeanne de Lestonnac was beatified in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and was canonized on May 15, 1949 by Pope Pius XII. Today her religious order has over 2,500 sisters and are found in 17 countries throughout Europe, Africa, North America and South America.