The first Visitation monastery in the United States was founded in Georgetown, Washington, DC, in the late 1700’s. On June 6, 2013, this monastic foundation established a new community called the Saint Jane de Chantal Gallery Community.
When the Visitation Order was founded on June 6, 1610, by St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, it had its beginnings in Annecy, France, in a house nicknamed “La Galerie” because a “gallery” ran along one side of their new monastery.
The purpose of the new Gallery community is to invoke the Holy Spirit and pray that the blessings of vocations may come to the Visitation family for the glory of God and for the benefit of God’s people. The Gallery community is an opportunity for young women “to experience our monastic way of life as handed down to us in the spirit of our charism…As a monastic, contemplative community the sisters of the Gallery Community will be faithful to their lives of prayer, their Constitutions and the Spiritual Directory placed in the hands of their Holy Mother, Saint Jane de Chantal, by Saint Francis de Sales on June 6, 1610, Trinity Sunday.”
In this Year of Faith, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI encourages everyone to rediscover and retrace the history of our Faith. By embracing with new fervor their founding charism and way of life, the Visitation sisters believe that this will once again attract women who wish to single-heartedly follow after the Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It was Saint Francis de Sales’ hope that the Visitation nuns be “daughters of prayer in the Church and daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” It was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, who received the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Revolutions come and go, and today’s social milieu will change with the wind, but for four hundred years a group of nuns have born witness to the merciful heart of Jesus through their lives of gentleness and humility.
The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, founded in 1610 in France, has grown to a worldwide congregation of active and cloistered sisters, and today they can be found in nearly every country. The cloistered Visitation nuns from Toledo, Ohio, recently made a pilgrimage to Annecy, France, where the congregation was founded, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of their founding.
A new video made for the occasion captures the spirit of the Visitation and chronicles the happy excursions of the sisters in the areas once walked by their founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. The video opens with a beautiful panorama of the valley surrounding Annecy.
Delighted to See the Nuns
“We walked everywhere,” the sisters said. “Going to the basilica was always ‘up’ and a steep climb. It allowed us to meet the people who seem delighted to see this large group of nuns, and were all smiles.”
Join the sisters as they journey the next 400 years as they walk in the footsteps of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. The video capturing the spirit of the pilgrimage was released on January 2, 2012, and has received more than 2,500 views.