Frances D’amboise, Blessed
Duchess of Brittany, afterwards Carmelite nun; b. 1427; d. at Nantes, Nov. 4, 1485
Frances d’Amboise, BLESSED, Duchess of Brittany, afterwards Carmelite nun; b. 1427; d. at Nantes, November 4, 1485. The daughter of Louis d’Amboise, Viscount de Thouars, she was betrothed when only four years old, to Peter, second son of John V, Duke of Brittany, the marriage being solemnized when she had reached the age of fifteen. The union was, however, not very happy owing to the morose disposition of the husband who occasionally ill-treated his wife; but her gentleness gradually changed his heart, he assisted her in her works of charity and did penance for his former dissolute life. After his succession to the dukedom in 1450 her wholesome influence made itself felt in wider circles; she also intervened, not always successfully, in the never-ending family feuds. The duke died, leaving no legitimate heir, in 1457, after having borne testimony in his last will to the devotedness of his wife. The latter consecrated her life to God, but for several years she was unable to consummate the sacrifice by entering a convent. While being educated by her future mother-in-law she had early distinguished herself by almsdeeds and fervent devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. During her married life she devoted a large portion of her fortune to the foundation of a convent of Poor Clares at Nantes, which she would have joined had her strength allowed it; she also took part in the preliminaries of the canonization of St. Vincent Ferrer, became a benefactress of the Dominican convent at Nantes, and made the acquaintance of Blessed John Soreth, General of the Carmelites, who in 1452 had established the first community of Carmelite nuns. Some of these, coming from Liege, were received by Frances at Vannes (October 31, 1463) where they were entertained at the castle until the convent called “The Three Maries” was habitable. Having provided their dowries she entered the novitiate (March 25, 1468), making her profession the following year. After some time spent as infirmarian she was elected prioress for life (1473), and became by her splendid example the model of a true Carmelite nun, and, in a sense, the foundress of this branch of the order. The convent proving too small she obtained, not without litigation, a larger one at Nantes. She died in a holy ecstasy, and miracles were wrought at her tomb. During the Huguenot wars and the French Revolution her body had to be saved twice from profanation. Pius IX beatified her July 16, 1863.