Anne de Xainctonge

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The Venerable Anne de Xainctonge
Xainctonge Gemälde2.jpg
Born November 21, 1567
Dijon, France
Died June 8, 1621
Dole, Jura, France
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church

Anne de Xainctonge (Dijon, November 21, 1567 – Dole, June 8, 1621) was the founder of the Society of the Sisters of Saint Ursula of the Blessed Virgin and has been declared a Venerable by the Roman Catholic Church.


She was born in Dijon, the eldest child of Jean de Xainctonge, who was a councilor in the local parliament, and his wife Lady Marguerite Collard, both of whom were members of the nobility. Her father saw to it that she have a good education. She grew up near a Jesuit school for boys and was thus inspired at an early age with the idea of educating girls.[1]

An uncloistered order of women, operating a free school for girls, was a new idea at that time, and she met with a great deal of resistance. In 1596 she left Dijon for the university town Dole, which was at that time in Franche-Comté and under Spanish influence. There she found other young women interested in teaching women and girls. Rome had recently reasserted the cloister as the only approved form of religious life for women. Nonetheless, with the help of the Jesuits, on June 16, 1606, Anne opened the first convent of what would later become the Society of the Sisters of Saint Ursula of the Blessed Virgin.[2] In lieu of a religious habit, she and her companions adopted the simple black dress of the Spanish widows everywhere visible in the region of Dole.[2]

The society spread rapidly in the east of France and in Switzerland.[1] In addition to the original school, seven more were established by de Xainctonge during her lifetime. She died in Dôle at the age of 53.

Due to her work she was considered a candidate for beatification soon after her death, but the French Revolution and other wars of the period led to the destruction of many documents.[1] Some sources add that de Xainctonge herself asked that her personal writings be burned after her death). She was declared Venerable on November 24, 1900.