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Ven. Anne de Xainctonge

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Foundress of the Society of the Sisters of St. Ursula of the Blessed Virgin , born at Dijon, 21 November, 1567; died at Dôle, 8 June, 1621.

She was the daughter of Jean de Xainctonge, councillor in the Dijon Parliament, and of Lady Marguerite Collard, both of noble birth and virtuous life. From a window in the Hotel Xainctonge Anne was able to see the Jesuit College and the good work carried on by the Fathers; at Mass in their church, she was edified by seeing the novices receiving Holy Communion. Hence the idea of her future work that of educating girls. She considered such an occupation fitting for religious women, who might thus unite the active with the contemplative life. To found an uncloistered order of women, to open public schools for girls, "where education should be given, not sold", were then new ideas to which the prejudices of that time, as well as the blind love of her parents, were profoundly opposed. With the help of heaven, often miraculous, under the guidance of the Jesuit Fathers de Villars and Gentil, she overcame all obstacles and succeeded. On 16 June, 1606, with Claudine de Boisset and another companion she opened her first convent at Dôle in Franche-Comté (then Spanish territory). The company was founded with " our Lady as general, St. Ursula as lieutenant", and the Rule of St. Ignatius as the basis of perfection. For fifteen years Anne was a living model of all religious virtues, in frequent and visible intercourse with her guardian angel, founding new houses as her society spread rapidly in the east of France and Switzerland. After her death her reputation for heroic sanctity and the graces obtained through her intercession led to a process of beatification, but the many wars of the period, followed closely by the French Revolution, destroyed all documents. The cause was afterwards re-established, and Anne de Xainctonge was declared Venerable on 24 November, 1900.

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