St. Jeanne de Lestonnac

Jeanne (1556-1640) was born in Bordeaux, France, to a Protestant mother and Catholic father. She married at age 17 and had seven children. After her husband died, she managed his estate until her children were grown; after that, she became a nun and dedicated herself to taking care of the poor. When the plague struck her hometown in 1605, she went to the poorest neighborhoods and took care of the sick.

Jeanne also helped young girls get an education. While the Jesuits had schools for young men, there weren’t schools for young women. Jeanne knew that girls needed a similar education, so, with the help of her friends and two Jesuit priests, Jeanne founded a religious order called the Sisters of the Company of Mary Our Lady. Today, the order of Sisters that Jeanne founded still teaches over 60,000 students. Her feast day is May 15.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Jeanne believed that education was important and girls deserved the same schooling as boys. Do you still see gender gaps in education today? If Jeanne were alive right now, how would she work to bring equality to schools?
  • Jeanne took care of the poor during the plague, even though it meant putting herself at risk. Have you ever taken a risk (big or small) to help someone else? How did it make you feel?