The Servant of God Jane of St. Erasmus, Widow, Second Order
Born in the year 1575, Jane descended from a distinguished family in Hainaut. She became a model to Christian women in the secular as well as in the religious state. After a pious youth spent in innocence, she was married, in her twenty-eighth year, to a nobleman of the Netherlands, Erasmus of Scheinghen, whose family, at the time when forceful attempts were being made to introduce the Calvinist heresy in the Netherlands, had nevertheless remained true to the Catholic Faith. Erasmus occupied high rank in the army of the king of Spain, to whom the Netherlands belonged at that time. The marriage was blessed with the birth of a little daughter, whom God almighty called very early to Himself.
Jane had very little comfort in her husband. He loved society and games of chance, and his vanity and ambition often caused him to become involved in bloody quarrels. His good wife endeavored to win his heart. She settled many of his disputes, and once even came herself between two drawn swords in a duel. She sought strength and consolation in her communion with God, with whom she conversed like a child with her father. She was much devoted to prayer - when she was at prayer she experienced neither hunger nor thirst, neither cold nor heat. Yet, she did not on that account neglect any of her household duties. With all courtesy, she also received the company who were at times invited at the wish of her husband; and added to that, she was a true mother to the poor and the sick. Such virtue caused her husband to be converted to better ways. A true believer at heart, as he had always been, he resolved to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; he returned from there a pious Christian.
During his absence, his devoted wife experienced a mighty impulse to enter the convent, and after severely testing her vocation, she believed the call came from heaven. Upon the return of her husband, she asked him for leave to follow the call. But, having since his conversion learned to value his virtuous wife, he did not want to hear of a separation. But Jane continued to plead, and as her vocation was approved by the most experienced directors in the spiritual life, even the archbishop of Cambrai supporting her petition, her husband at length resolved on his part to make the sacrifice to God. He himself accompanied his wife to the convent of Philippeville, where the rule of St. Clare was observed in its primitive rigor.
Although she was already fifty-five years old, Jane cheerfully observed the strictest practices of the novices, went barefoot, and looked upon herself as the lowliest servant in the convent. In gratitude to her husband who permitted her to enter, she called herself by his name, Jane of St. Erasmus. She pledged him the best of all her merits, and also offered, when his death drew near, to suffer his purgatory.
Jane survived for nineteen years, a model for everyone in the convent. She experienced extraordinary graces from God; frequently she was seen in ecstasy and raised above the earth. If she so much as glanced at a picture of our Lord at the Pillar of the Scourging which hung in the choir, she broke out in tears of the tenderest compassion. When it was forbidden for her to look at it anymore, she never again directed her glance in that direction, because she held obedience in greater esteem than sentiments of devotion.
At the last, she was tried by long and painful suffering in all the members of her body. In that condition, a glance at the image of the Crucified was her dearest comfort. Looking at it, she used to say the little prayer: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews! May this victorious title protect us and preserve us from all evil.” She actually had the prayer on her lips and was raising her hand in order to make the Sign of the Cross as she said it, when our Lord took unto Himself the soul that had been found so faithful. It was in the year 1649.
Blessed Jane persevered in prayer in the various situations of life. Never did she allow her usual devotion to suffer. Her devotion was always so lively that she appeared to notice nothing of what was going on about her. At the same time, she fulfilled her household duties with fidelity, since prayer cannot otherwise be pleasing to God. And in difficult situations, as when she felt the call to the religious life, she redoubled her prayers, and pleaded with ever greater confidence until God heard her.
Prayer of the Church
Lord Jesus Christ, who in the Garden of Olives hast taught us by word and example to pray in order that we may overcome the dangers of temptation, grant us the grace that we may always be devoted to prayer and may merit to obtain its abundant fruits. Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.
*from the Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM
Pelayo's resistance initiated the nearly 800-year-long Reconquista to take back his country from the ruthless invader who had conquered his homeland and sought to erase his culture and his faith. His actions would lay the foundations of a Kingdom for Christ that would eventually reach around the world and spread the Catholic faith to millions of souls. Read more...
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