Blessed Joan Delanoue
The youngest of twelve children, Joan Delanoue was born in 1666. Her family had a small but successful business. When her widowed mother died, she left the store to Joan. She was not an evil girl, but she thought only of making money. She committed many little sins to do it. She had once been devout, but now there was little love in her heart. Her mother had always been generous to beggars. Joan, instead, would buy food only just in time for dinner. This way she could tell any beggars who came to the door during the day: "I have nothing to give you."
Joan was not happy living like this. At last, when she was twenty-seven, a good priest helped her start living up to her faith with love and fervor. Then she finally saw that her "business" was to give away money, not hoard it. Joan began taking care of poor families and orphans. Eventually, she closed her shop entirely to devote her time to them. People called her house full of orphans, "Providence House." Later, she persuaded other young women to help her. They became the Sisters of St. Anne of Providence in Saumur, France, Joan's town.
Joan lived a very self-sacrificing life. She performed hard penances. St. Grignon de Montfort met Joan. He thought at first that her pride was causing her to be so hard on herself. But then he realized that her heart was really full of love of God. He said: "Go on in the way you have begun. God's Spirit is with you. Follow his voice and fear no more." Joan died peacefully on August 17, 1736. She was seventy years old. The people of Saumur said, "That little shopkeeper did more for the poor of Saumur than all the town councilors put together. What a woman! And what a holy person!" Joan was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Pius XII in 1947, the same year St. Grignon de Montfort was declared a saint.
May Jesus grant us the grace of conversion that he gave to Bl. Joan: that our hearts may be opened more and more in compassion for others.