December 9, 2012 by lucieromarin
Second place in the search for the top three Saints Who Became Happy and Holy in Vocations They Never Wanted … is a draw. It’s a tie between an old saint and a new one.
The ‘old’ saint is St Joan de Valois (also called Joan of France, Jeanne de Valois, and all sorts of other names), who was born in 1464. She was betrothed at the age of two, married at twelve (no vocations discernment there!) and, some years later, was subjected to one of the most publicly humiliating annulment appeals ever known. Why? She was a hunchback, and her husband wanted someone pretty. So, he appealed on the grounds of her deformity, supplying detail after detail about how it got in the way of his consummating the marriage, and she had to provide witnesses to the contrary. (Which, by the way, she did.) Unfortunately, the Pope was Alexander VI (political and lecherous) and he granted the annulment, which she was obliged to accept. This was a case, not of forced marriage, but of forced separation! Somehow, this did not make her bitter; she founded a religious order, and dedicated it to the Annunciation: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.”
The ‘new’ saint is St Anna Schaffer, who was canonised October 21 this year. She was born in 1882; her great desire was for the religious life, but her poverty was an impediment to her dream. While working as a laundress to save the dowry, she had a gruesome accident – her legs were boiled. Thirty surgical operations later, she was left completely immobile; it was the death, not only of her dream of the religious life, but of any other dream that might have replaced it. For the next 24 years, all she had was her suffering (she died of colon cancer) and the only dream that did not die was the dream of holiness. Well, she obviously worked out how to make a great life out of a shattered life, because her cause for beatification included over 20,000 separate testimonies from persons who attributed graces or miracles to her intercession.
I don’t envy either of them having their dreams destroyed. I do like knowing how well such an awful situation can end.
Finally, here’s a nice picture of the St Nicholas punch.