Jeanne of Lestonnac
A flame that becomes a call
Our Foundress was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1556. Daughter of Jeanne Eyquem de Montaigne and Ricardo de Lestonnac, Adviser to the King in the Parliament of Bordeaux. She belongs to a relevant family from the social, political and cultural point of view.
Heir to a humanistic culture through her mother’s line, her uncle Michel de Montaigne, author of the “Essays”, will exert an important influence on her training.
The Company of Mary Our Lady
A future with history
The novelty that the integral formation of women represents at this moment in history -1607- opens new paths to the transformation of society and to Religious Life in the Church. This is an imprint that, over time, shapes the identity of our institution. An initial community, located on Carrer del Hâ in Bordeaux, gives birth to that intuition rooted in the heart of Jeanne:“the woman must be saved by the woman herself”.
Jeanne of Lestonnac in the “Cistercian Night” understands that she must not only be for God, but that this God invites her to “reach out” educationally. By discerning how to make this invitation of the Lord concrete, she discovers in Ignatian spirituality the way to live that new apostolic path to which she is called. The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus are a point of reference to capture, with their own originality and nuances, the gift that God, through her, had reserved for the Church and for the world.
Contemplation and action; search for the will of God through discernment; availability to go wherever our presence is needed anywhere in the world; seek and find God in all things. These are some of the essential components of our spirituality.
Mary, Our Lady, is our model and reference point. In her we find the synthesis of our identity.
A universal heart.
United for the “more” of the mission
Present on four continents, the Company of Mary Our Lady is an international institution that responds creatively to the message that the universal Church contributes to the building of the Kingdom.
The wish of Jeanne of Lestonnac: the union of all the houses through a formula that would assure “the organic unity of the Apostolic Body” was not possible from the beginning; however, this intuition and the prompt expansion of the Company of Mary already marked in the origins a dynamism that has remained throughout time.
From 1607 to 1921 each House maintained its autonomy. However, the frequent communication that Jeanne maintained with each of the houses and later that continued among the Houses themselves, was configuring a relationship capable of maintaining “the union of hearts” through the centuries.
In 1921, the Church approved the union of the Houses through a centralized General Governmentl. Located in Rome is a sign of the universality and unity of the Company. Since then, the Order of the Company of Mary Our Lady is organized in Provinces and Territorial Delegations. The religious communities, which are part of them, carry out their apostolic project in the places where they are present, through different apostolic platforms of their own or in collaboration with other ecclesial or social institutions.
We educate people, we transform the world
The Christian vision of the person, of life and of the world, the humanistic influence of Michel de Montaigne and the desire to collaborate in the construction of a more just and inclusive society, which makes the Kingdom of God visible, defining the horizon of our educational action.