- Jeanne Mance
Her statue at the foot of Maisonneuve Monument
Born November 12, 1606
Died June 18, 1673(aged 66)
Cause of death Illness Ethnicity French Occupation Nurse Employer Société Notre-Dame de Montréal Known for Founding of Montreal
Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal
Religion Roman Catholic Parents Catherine Émonnot
Jeanne Mance (November 12, 1606 – June 18, 1673) was a French settler of New France. She was one of the founders of Montreal who secured its survival and was the founder and head of the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal.
Jeanne Mance was born into a bourgeois family in Langres, in Haute-Marne, France. She was the daughter of Catherine Émonot and Charles Mance, a prosecutor for the king in Langres, an important diocese in the northern Burgundy. Her mother died prematurely and she cared for eleven brothers and sisters before devoting herself to the care of victims of the Thirty Years War and the plague.
At age 34, while on a procession to Troyes in Champagne, Mance discovered her missionary calling and decided to go to New France, which was at the time being settled by the French. She was supported by Anne of Austria, wife of King Louis XIII, and by the Jesuits. Mance was a member of the Society of Our Lady of Montreal whose aim was to convert the natives and found a hospital in Montreal similar to the one in Quebec.
Founding of Montreal and Hôtel-Dieu Hospital
It was Charles Lallemant who recruited Jeanne Mance for the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal. Mance embarked from La Rochelle on May 9, 1641 on a crossing of the Atlantic that took three months. After wintering in Quebec, she and Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve arrived at the Island of Montreal In the spring of 1642. They founded the new city on May 17, 1642 on land granted by the Governor. That same year Mance began operating a hospital in her home. Two years later (1644), with a donation sf 6000 francs by Angélique Bullion, she opened a hospital on Rue Saint-Paul. The hospital stood for fifty years and was in her care for the first seventeen of those years.
In 1650 she visited France and returned with 22,000 livres of the money set aside by Mme de Bullion for the hospital. On her return to Montreal, she found that the attacks of the Iroquois threatened the colony and lent the hospital money to M. de Maisonneuve who returned to France to organize a force of one hundred men for the colony's defense.
Mance made a second trip to France in 1657 to recruit assistance for the hospital. She secured three Hospital Sisters of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph from the convent of La Fleche in Anjou: Judith Moreau de Bresoles, Catherine Mace, and Marie Maillet. It was a difficult passage made worse by an outbreak of the plague on board. While Mgr. de Laval tried to retain the sisters at Quebec for the hospital there, they eventually reached Montreal in October 1659. Mance's work was now fully established and for the rest of her years, she was able to live a more retired life.
She died after a long illness and was buried in the church of the Hôtel-Dieu in 1673. While the church and her house were destroyed in 1696, her work was carried on by the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, with the three nuns recruited by Mance acting as hospital administrators. Two centuries later (1861) the hospital was moved to the foot of Mount Royal.
Her statue at Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
- Jeanne Mance(1606-1673): Nurse : First Lay Nurse in North America
- "Jeanne Mance". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
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