The Catholic Defender: Saint Joan of the Cross
An encounter with a shabby old woman many dismissed as insane prompted Saint Joan to dedicate her life to the poor. For Joan, who had a reputation as a businesswoman intent on monetary success, this was a significant conversion.
(Joan of the Cross) (18 June 1666 – 17 August 1736) was the founder of the Congregation of St. Anne of Providence
Born in 1666, in Anjou, France, Joan worked in the family business—a small shop near a religious shrine—from an early age. After her parents’ death she took over the shop. She quickly became known for her greediness and insensitivity to the beggars who often came seeking help.
That was until she was touched by the strange woman who claimed she was on intimate terms with the deity. Joan, who had always been devout, even scrupulous, became a new person. She began caring for needy children. Then the poor, elderly, and sick came to her. Over time, she closed the family business so she could devote herself fully to good works and penance.
In 1704, she was joined by a few other young women who shared her vision of helping the needy. Thus was founded the Sisters of Saint Anne of Providence of Saumur. Her work was endorsed by noted preacher Louis de Montfort.
She went on to found what came to be known as the Congregation of Saint Anne of Providence. It was then she took the religious name of Joan of the Cross. By the time of her death in 1736 she had founded 12 religious houses, hospices, and schools. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1982.
The downtown areas of most major cities hold a population of “street people.” Well-dressed folks usually avoid making eye contact, probably for fear of being asked for a handout. That was Joan’s attitude until the day one of them touched her heart. Most people thought the old woman was crazy, but she put Joan on the road to sainthood. Who knows what the next beggar we meet might do for us?
Blessed Joan, duty bound to God, give me courage: You who left family and friends to enter into God's service, Devout and valiant to uphold righteousness to the end, While being insulted and harmed by your enemies.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Christ died once for our sins, that he might bring us to God. We have been sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.