A lay woman wishing to serve in New France
Jeanne Mance was born in France on November 12, 1606. At a very young age she wanted to consecrate her life to God and felt called to be a missionary in Canada.
“I know that God wants me in Canada, but I don’t know where or for what mission. I surrender myself entirely to God’s will.”
After discernment, she left with Paul de Chomedey and a deployment of men. She arrived on the Island of Montreal on May 17, 1642, to establish Ville-Marie, thus becoming the cofoundress of this colony.
With the financial assistance of Mme de Bullion, Jeanne Mance founded the Hotel-Dieu, caring for the wounded and the sick French settlers and American Indians. She prepared for the arrival of the Hospitallers of Saint Joseph.
Aware of Jerome le Royer’s plan, in 1659 she brought back to Canada from France the first three Hospitallers. Thus began the history of the great collaboration between this lay woman and the Hospitallers of Saint Joseph, which lasted until her death on June 18, 1673.