Jane of the Cross
(Venerable Jane of the Cross)
Virgin, Third Order
On the feast of the Finding of the Cross, May 3, 1481, Jane was born at Hazagna, not far from Toledo, Spain. Even as a child she gave signs of future holiness; for example, she took no food at all on Fridays, Her bodily as well as her spiritual development progressed so rapidly beyond her years, that, on the death of her mother, although she was only ten years old, she managed the household of her father.
Because of her special endowments, Jane of the Cross was sought in marriage by a distinguished young man when she was but fourteen years of age. Her father urged her to consent, but Jane definitely declared that she would never get married and wished to serve God in a convent. When her father enlisted the help of relatives, all endeavoring to influence her toward marriage, Jane secretly took flight in men's clothing.
At Cuba, some hours' distance from her native town, Jane of the Cross again donner her own clothing, which she had brought with her in a bundle, and asked for admission into the convent of the Tertiaries there. She was invested on her fifteenth birthday, and on the same day of the next year she made her profession. She received the surname of the Cross, because of the feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross.
Jane of the Cross redoubled her zeal in mortification, in prayer, and in all the religious virtues. She had a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a great desire for Holy Communion. Gladly would she have received every day, but in accordance with the custom of the time and the wish of her confessor, she contented herself with the general communion days of the sisters. But she was all the more zealous in receiving the Holy Sacrament spiritually. Her ardent desire led her to receive spiritually at almost every hour of the day, and through this practice she felt so wonderfully strengthened that she sometimes cried out:
"O my God, if the mere desire for Thy most holy Body has such marvelous effects, what strength must the actual reception afford!"
But she was also to stand in need of this strength. She had to endure much hostility and ill-treatment from her fellow sisters. True, later all of them recognized their injustice, and upon the death of the superior, they unanimously elected Jane in her place. but even in that position, although she greatly promoted the spiritual and temporal welfare of the convent, she met with shch vehement opposition, within and without the convent, that she was deposed, until it was recognized that the complaints against her were calumnies and she was reinstated. Jane was also visited with severe physical sufferings; but that seemed to be her one desire, since she always prayed for more suffering.
Christ Our Lord rewarded the fidelity of His spouse with extraordinary graces. She saw her guardian angel visibly at her side and constantly received counsel and comfort from him. She was gifted with wonderful insight into the mysteries of our holy religion, and discoursed on them in a manner that astonished the most learned men. Cardinal Ximenez, archbishop of Toledo, often came to the convent and manifested the greatest respect for her.
Our Lord once rewarded her love for the Blessed Sacrament with a marvelous miracle. She was going to church in order to adore the Blessed Sacrament at elevation, which was just about to take place. But the sinal for elevation was given while Jane was still in the cloister hall. Promptly she knelt down, and, marvelous to say, the wall of the church seemed to part so that Jane could see the Blesses Sacrament. After the priest replaced the chalice with the Blessed Sacrament on the altar, the gap closed, but King Philip III himself came to the convent later to see this memento of the miracle.
In the fifty-fourth year of her life Jane learned from her guardian angel that she should now enter the celestial vision, and also that she would die in the shadow of the cross. On the feast of the Finding of the Cross, May 3, 1534, Venerable Jane of the Cross departed after a prolonged ecstasy. God almighty glorified her after death with numerous miracles, which have been examined and approved by the Church; but her cause of beatification has not been completed.
*from The Franciscan Book of Saints, Fr. Habig, OFM
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