St. Joan of Valois, 1464 – 1505, was the second daughter of Louis XI, King of France, and Charlotte of Savoy, She was born on April 23, 1464. At the age of two months she was betrothed to Louis, Duke of Orleans, and the marriage took place in 1476. There is no doubt that it was invalid, for Louis of Orleans married her in fear of his life if he did not comply with the king’s orders to do so.
St. Joan was by no means a prepossessing figure: she was hunch-backed, lame and pock-marked. On her husband’s succession to the throne he obtained a declaration that the marriage was invalid. Joan, therefore, was not to be queen of France; she was given instead the title of Duchess of Berry. “If so it is to be, praised be the Lord”, was her remark on this occasion.
And there, really is the basis of her holiness and the spiritual testament that she left in the Order of the Annunciation that she founded; by her choice of name for her nuns she emphasized the parallel between our Lady’s “Be it done to me and her own If so it is to be”.
All her life she met with opposition and countered it with such gentle words these. There were difficulties without number. The pope seemed unwilling to give his approval, though Louis X11 approved readily enough, thinking perhaps that Joan, bound by vows, would be less likely to upset the verdict given in the suit of nullity; his fears were groundless, and in any case directly after the verdict he had married Anne of Brittany.
There were difficulties arising from Joan’s character; she was inclined to be autocratic with her nuns, impatient at their slow progress. The foundation was made at Bouges, and the remains of the house may still be seen there Joan died at the age of 41 on February 4, 1505. St. Joan was canonized in 1950. Her feast day is February 4 the day on which she died.