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Lives of the Saints:

How They Changed the World

Saint Joan de Lestonnac (d. 1640)

Saint Joan de Lestonnac (d. 1640)

Patron saint of abuse victims, people rejected by religious orders, and widows

Feast day: February 2




Saint Joan de Lestonnac was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1556. She was happily married with four children when her husband tragically passed away. After her husband’s death, Joan singlehandedly ran her home and estate. When her children were grown and established, she entered religious life. She eventually established her own religious community, and she and her sisters ministered to plague victims, assisted the poor, and combated the heresy of Calvinism. However, one of her fellow nuns decided to conspire against Joan, resulting in that nun's election as superior and Joan’s removal. The new superior maliciously mistreated Joan, but Joan stood strong and did not retaliate with anger. Eventually the cruel nun repented, but Joan no longer wanted to be reinstated as superior. She acted as a retired member of her order for the rest of her life. Saint Joan de Lestonnac was canonized in 1949. (Image in public domain-70)