Jeanne Mance was born in 1606 in France to a wealthy bourgeois family. Her father was an important lawyer in the king’s court. When her mother died prematurely, Jeanne cared for her 11 brothers and sisters. This call to care for others continued in her youth as she became a nurse and cared for the victims of war and the plague in her town. Once her siblings were older and her father had passed away, Jeanne found herself available to pursue her desire to help others and spread God’s word to those in need. She decided to come to the new world – to Quebec as a missionary and nurse. From the very beginning of her journey, she helped others nursing people on the ship and once she arrived in Quebec, she helped families clear land to build their homes. She spoke to everyone about God and provided them with medical and spiritual care. She spent her entire life in the service of her brothers and sisters. She founded the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Montreal, overseeing the initial construction of this residence whose doors were open to everyone – with no discrimination of race. Although Jeanne herself had never become a nun, she invited nuns from different congregations to help her at the hospital. She was known to be a woman who bravely served others, welcoming them with respect and compassion throughout her entire life. She ran the hospital for 17 years and died of illness when she was 67 years old. In 2014 Pope Francis recognized Jeanne’s heroic virtues and declared her venerable.
Jeanne once wrote, ” There is nothing in the world that I would refuse to do to accomplish the divine and all-loving will of God. It is the only desire and love of my heart. There in is my passion, all my affections, my only love, and my sole paradise.”