Order of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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Order of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
AbbreviationOrder of the Virgin Mary (O.V.M.)
Type Roman Catholic religious order
Website www.annonciade.info

The Order of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Latin : Ordo de Annuntiatione Beatæ Mariæ Virginis), also known as Sisters of the Annunciation or Annonciades, is a enclosed religious order of contemplative nuns founded in honor of the Annunciation in 1501 at Bourges by Joan de Valois, also known as Joan of France, daughter of King Louis XI of France, and wife of Louis, the Duke of Orléans, later King Louis XII of France.

Contemplation Profound thinking about something

Contemplation is profound thinking about something. In a religious sense, contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.

Nun Member of a religious community of women

A nun is a member of a religious community of women, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the enclosure of a monastery. Communities of nuns exist in numerous religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism.

Annunciation Christian celebration and artistic theme

The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox celebration of the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking His Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Yeshua, meaning "YHWH is salvation".


St. Joan of France, foundress of the Order of the Annunciation. St. Jeanne de Valois.jpg
St. Joan of France, foundress of the Order of the Annunciation.



After her husband Louis gained the throne in 1498, he obtained an annulment of their marriage from the Holy See, on the basis of their having been forced into the marriage by Joan's father. After being freed from her marriage, Joan retired to Bourges, where in 1501 she succeeded in founding a monastery in honor of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. [1] The Rule of Life she wrote for her community is entitled The Ten Virtues of the Blessed Virgin, the imitation of which she proposed as the aim of the order. It was confirmed by Pope Alexander VI and, on 8 October 1502, the first five members received the veil, the foundress herself taking solemn vows on 4 June 1503. She died in 1505.

Annulment is a legal procedure within secular and religious legal systems for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place. In legal terminology, an annulment makes a void marriage or a voidable marriage null.

Holy See episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy

The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, is the apostolic episcopal see of the bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, ex cathedra the universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, and a sovereign entity of international law. Founded in the 1st century by Saints Peter and Paul, by virtue of Petrine and Papal primacy according to Catholic tradition, it is the focal point of full communion for Catholic bishops and Catholics around the world organised in polities of the Latin Church, the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, and their dioceses and religious institutes.

Bourges Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Bourges is a city in central France on the Yèvre river. It is the capital of the department of Cher, and also was the capital of the former province of Berry.


The Franciscan friar who had assisted Joan in the foundation, Gilbert Nicolas, O.F.M. (whose name was changed by Brief of Pope Alexander to Gabriel Maria) was appointed Superior of the monastery by her, and, after revising the Constitutions of the Order, presented them for confirmation in 1517 to Pope Leo X, who then placed the Order under the jurisdiction of the Friars Minor. [1] Under Nicholas' guidance, new monasteries of the Order were founded in Albi (1507), Béthune (1516), Bruges (1517), Rodez (1519), Bordeaux (1520), Chanteloup (1529), and Louvain (1530). The rapid expansion of the Order was due primarily to the patronage of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria, who had been betrothed in her infancy to the future King Charles VIII of France and brought up at the French royal court. When she became Governor of the Netherlands, she showed great interest in the Franciscan Order and the Order founded by Joan, whom she had known personally. [2]

A papal brief is a formal document emanating from the Pope, in a somewhat simpler and more modern form than a papal bull.

A Superior General or General Superior is the leader or head of a religious institute in the Roman Catholic Church. The Superior General usually holds supreme executive authority in the religious order, while the general chapter has legislative authority.

Pope Leo X Pope from 1513 to 1521

Pope Leo X, born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was Pope from 9 March 1513 to his death in 1521.

Beginning in 1610, the Ministers Provincial of the Franciscan friars in France conducted a reform of female communities of the Franciscan Third Order Regular, which established for them enclosed monasteries and allowed the taking of solemn vows, which previously had been barred to them due to the more apostolic way of life they had followed. [2] In this way a number of communities of Franciscan Sisters were added to the Annonciade nuns.

Provincial superior

A provincial superior is a major superior of a religious institute acting under the institute's Superior General and exercising a general supervision over all the members of that institute in a territorial division of the order called a province—similar to but not to be confused with an ecclesiastical province made up of particular churches or dioceses under the supervision of a Metropolitan Bishop. The division of a religious institute into provinces is generally along geographical lines, and may consist of one or more countries, or of only a part of a country. There may be, however, one or more houses of one province situated within the physical territory of another since the jurisdiction over the individual religious is personal rather than territorial. The title of the office is often abbreviated to Provincial.


The Thirty Years' War proved to be a difficult period for the monasteries of the Order, with many of them damaged, burned, and abandoned. The history of one house of the Order serves to illustrate the turmoil they faced. In May 1635, Mother Catherine Bar, O.V..M., and the nuns of the monastery in Bruyères were forced to flee before the Swedish army. After briefly settling in Badonviller, they were instructed by the Minister Provincial to move to Commercy, where they opened a small school for girls. Some nuns, exhausted by hardships, fell ill along the way with the plague. Only six nuns of the original community of twenty survived. The survivors found shelter with a community of Benedictine nuns in Rambervillers and joined them in 1639. Bar then took the new religious name of Mechtilde of the Blessed Sacrament, O.S.B. She later went on to found the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in her hometown of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in 1660. [2]

Thirty Years War War between 1618 and 1648; with over 8 million fatalities

The Thirty Years' War was a war fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. One of the most destructive conflicts in human history, it resulted in eight million fatalities not only from military engagements but also from violence, famine, and plague. Casualties were overwhelmingly and disproportionately inhabitants of the Holy Roman Empire, most of the rest being battle deaths from various foreign armies. In terms of proportional German casualties and destruction, it was surpassed only by the period January to May 1945; one of its enduring results was 19th-century Pan-Germanism, when it served as an example of the dangers of a divided Germany and became a key justification for the 1871 creation of the German Empire.

Bruyères Commune in Grand Est, France

Bruyères is a commune in the Vosges department in Grand Est in northeastern France.

Badonviller Commune in Grand Est, France

Badonviller is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in northeastern France.

Three of the nuns from that original monastery, however, found their way to the hospitality of a friend of their former monastery living in Burey-en-Vaux. With her help, in 1647 they re-established their community in Vaucouleurs. [2]

Burey-en-Vaux Commune in Grand Est, France

Burey-en-Vaux is a commune in the Meuse department in Grand Est in northeastern France.

Vaucouleurs Commune in Grand Est, France

Vaucouleurs is a commune in the Meuse department of France, located approximately 300 km (190 mi) from Paris.

Prior to the French Revolution, there were 45 Annonciade monasteries, mostly in France and Belgium. The French houses were suppressed during the turmoil. [1] According to tradition, three nuns from the Villeneuve-sur-Lot monastery were executed during the Reign of Terror for their faith. [3]

Fleeing restrictions on and persecution of religious orders during the Third Republic, a monastery existed at Saint Margaret’s Bay (Kent, England) from 1903 until 1976. A photograph of the facility appears on St Margaret's Village Archive website. [4] [5]

Monastery life

Their present-day mission as nuns is first and foremost contemplation and giving praise to God. Hours are designated for meditation and silence. [6] Today the Order numbers around eighty nuns living in seven monasteries in France, Belgium and Costa Rica. A new foundation is under way at the Marian Shrine in Licheń, Poland.


The Order currently (2015) has four monasteries in France and one each in Belgium, Costa Rica, and Poland:

Confraternity of the Annunciation

In 1517 Gabriel Nicholas obtained Church approval for the merger of two previously existing religious fraternities into a confraternity called the Way of Peace (Chemin de Paix) known today as the Confraternity of the Annunciade, the Way of Peace. [2] The Order of Peace may be joined through affiliation to one of the monasteries of the Order.

See also



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