04 November 2015

Princess Spotlight: Francoise d'Amboise

By Selbymay via Wikimedia Commons
Medieval princesses often found themselves in convents. "Extra" daughters for whom no husbands could be found. Widowed women who were too old to marry again. On occasion, they went there entirely by choice. Such is the case with Francoise d'Amboise (1427-1485). 

Betrothed at age four and married at 15 to the second son of the Duke of Brittany, Francoise soon found herself the Duchess of Brittany when her husband's brother died and he became Duke Peter II. Peter was reportedly an unkind husband but Francoise's gentleness and religious devotion had a positive impact on him. Renowned for her piety, she committed charitable acts with more sincerity than many of her contemporary ladies. Every week, to honor St. Ursula, she invited 11 poor girls to dinner. She made sure that mass was said for her late brother-in-law every week, too. Together with her now kinder husband, she provided a home for an order of Poor Clare nuns in Nantes. This period in Brittany is referred to as the "time of the blessed Duchess."

Shortly after that, Peter died leaving Francoise a widow at age 30, still young enough to be remarried and she had a very powerful suitor: King Louis XI of France. But, Francoise had no desire to be the Queen of France. She wished instead to devote her life to God. Under the tutelage of Blessed Jean Soreth, she gave her properties to found the Carmelite convent of The Three Maries. She became a Carmelite herself a few years later, eventually rising to become prioress for life. Because of her role in helping establish the Carmelites in France, she is referred to as their founding mother.

According to the Catholic Church, she died in holy ecstasy, a state of altered consciousness in which the person is deeply spiritually aware and sometimes experiences visions or emotional euphoria. With miracles documented as taking place at her tomb, Pope Pius IX beatified her in 1863, nearly 400 years after her death. This is the next-to-last step toward being declared a saint. It means that she is known as Blessed Francoise d'Amboise and that people can pray to her for intercession. Her feast day is November 4, the date of her death.

For a very Catholic view of Francoise, see:
Blessed Francoise d'Amboise on Tradition in Action

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