La Vie et la Béatification de Jeanne de Toulouse-RELICS

The Life and Beatification of Joan of Toulouse

Joan of Toulouse, a revered mystic in the Catholic tradition, is an enigmatic figure whose life remains subject to debate and uncertainty. Yet his close connection to the Carmelite convent of Toulouse and his beatification by Pope Leo XIII in 1895 solidified his place in religious history.

Historical uncertainties and traditions

Few biographical elements are known with certainty about Joan of Toulouse. His date of birth seems unknown, his date of death varies from one source to another. Typos and/or confusions exist on certain sites containing short biographies (such as on nominis which indicates a date of death in 1286, or the magazine Magnificat which in its martyrology pages, as well as a blog which seems to confuse the dates with Joan From toulouse). To add to the confusion, in Toulouse, in this period of the 13th century, several women took the same name of Joan of Toulouse.

A tradition indicates that following the founding of a Carmelite monastery in Toulouse in 1240, Joan discovered Carmelite spirituality. Simon Stock, passing through Toulouse in 1265, met her and accepted her request to follow the rule of Carmel, and she thus became the "first Carmelite of the Third Order". Joan, remaining a virgin, then strives to follow all the requirements of the Rule of Carmel. She comes to the aid of the city's Carmelite community and assists the sick and the poor. She also encourages the laity of Toulouse to help serve and help the poor.

Another source makes her the daughter of Baudouin de Toulouse (and Alix de Lautrec). Her father having been murdered by her brother (Raymond VI of Toulouse), Jeanne, in reparation for her uncle's crime, would have been cloistered in a small house adjoining the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse. Through a small window she had a view of the altar and adored the holy sacrament day and night. She lived there as a recluse until her death.

Probable origin

According to the most reliable biography source, written by the Carmelite Jean Bale, who visited Toulouse in 1527, Joan came from a noble family in the Kingdom of Navarre. Having a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, Jeanne decided to live as a recluse near the Carmelite convent of Toulouse. She then chose to live in great austerity. “She loved talking about spiritual matters with the young Carmelite brothers and prayed a lot for them, which brought them great spiritual benefit. ".

Joan of Toulouse does not appear in the list of saints of the Order published by Jean Grossi (+1437) who was a member of the Carmelite province of Toulouse. This is why, taking into account the other known bibliographic elements, Joan seems to have lived at the beginning of the 15th century, at best not long before (another Carmel site gives the date of death as "around 1380").

The initiator of the feminine Carmel and the Third Order

In the various writings dealing with Joan of Toulouse, she is described as "tertiary", and sometimes as a "Carmelite". Although these two branches of the Order of Carmel had not yet been officially founded at this period, it cannot be excluded that Joan made profession of the Carmelite rule, as some women sometimes did at this period.

Joan of Toulouse is therefore known, in the Carmelite tradition, to have had a life of recluse, inspired by Carmelite spirituality, before the opening of the order to women and lay people. She was thus sometimes considered (in a Carmelite tradition) as being the first Carmelite (see the initiator of this branch), but sometimes also as the founder of the Carmelite Third Order.

Canonization and veneration of relics

In the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul chapel of the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse, the relics of Blessed Joan of Toulouse are honored, placed in reliquaries on each side. Bernard Yvest de Roserge, bishop of Toulouse who died in 1474, had his relics exhumed and placed in an urn in the chapel of the town's Carmelite convent. In 1656, a Spanish convent, as part of the beatification procedure, requested relics of Joan. The prior general of the order, Henry Silvio, during a trip to Spain, brought them the right arm and hand of the saint. Writings from 1688 mention the disappearance of the left hand and a few teeth in the Toulouse ossuary.

After the French Revolution in 1805, with the destruction of the Carmelite convent and church, relics of the blessed were discovered in the wall of the church, accompanied by documents dating from 1688 (documents established during the examination of the relics carried out for the beatification process). These relics were transferred to the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse, where they were placed in the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul chapel. In 1893, in preparation for his beatification, the relics were again exhumed and placed in a reliquary.

Beatification and worship

The request for beatification of Joan of Toulouse was submitted during the general chapter of the order of Carmel in Naples in 1510. The examination began in 1616, then was relaunched in 1656 and 1688. She was finally beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1895.

After his death, several miracles were attributed to him by his contemporaries, which led to the official authorization of his cult in the middle of the 15th century by Bishop Bernard du Rosier. His feast day is celebrated on March 31. Although she was considered holy and venerated in the order of Carmel before her beatification, her feast day was removed from the calendar of saints of the order of Carmel during the last liturgical reform. Anne of Toulouse, probably her sister, also a cloistered nun linked to Carmel and having lived as a recluse at the same time as Joan, can be associated with her memory.

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