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Salesian Spirituality

Image of St. Francis and St. Jane

Salesian spirituality is characterized by the gospel-based ”little virtues” of gentleness, patience, humility and liberty of spirit, to name a few. It is named “Salesian” in reference to St. Francis de Sales, who, along with St. Jane de Chantal, co-founded the Visitation order.

The Salesian Studies program exists to help nourish, deepen and extend the charism of St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales within our school community and beyond. The program director achieves this mission by mentoring faculty and staff, co-coordinating masses and prayer services with the Campus Minister, introducing parents to the richness of Salesian spirituality, and partnering with teachers on ways to infuse their curricula with Salesian ideals and lessons.

Our Founders

St Francis and St Jane

Saint Jane Frances Fremyot was born on January 23, 1572 in Dijon, Burgundy. Jane grew up in a wealthy home and was educated through tutors that were brought to the home to educate her brother. At age 20, she married Baron Christophe de Chantal. They had a happy marriage and six children--four of whom survived. When Jane was 28, Christophe died in a tragic hunting accident. The following years marked a time of great interior turmoil and suffering.

In 1604, she heard St. Francis de Sales preach lenten sermons and at their first meeting, they recognized each other as gifted by God. A great friendship ensued, centered completely on God. In their conversations, Francis guided Jane to trust her instincts, to place herself before God and to relate to God in her own way. This advice led Jane to educate her children, and later the Sisters of the Visitation, to see each person as an individual, to guide each to love God in the way that best fit the individual’s spiritual inspirations. In his turn, Francis received many gifts from Jane. Soon they began to talk of a common dream that unfolded for each of them, a religious community that would accept widows, older women, and those not able to join the more physically difficult reformed orders. In 1610, after her children were settled, Jane and two companions founded the Visitation Order on June 6. She died Dec. 3, 1641. She was canonized in 1767.

Francis de Sales was born in 1567 in Annecy, France. He was well educated as a young nobleman, yet always strived toward the priesthood. When Francis was 19, he had an intense spiritual crisis and found himself in prayer in front of a statue of Mary. Francis prayed that if he was not destined to love God in eternity, he prayed to loved God as completely as possible each day he was alive. The peace he experienced after that prayer came from a loving God who became the major focus of his life from that point on. Francis was ordained a priest in 1593.

Francis spent the the initial years in the Chablais region near Lake Geneva as a missionary to the mostly protestant region. In 1602, Francis became Bishop of Geneva. His style was pastoral and he became a prolific speaker. In 1608, he compiled letters of spiritual direction into a book titled An Introduction to the Devout Life. His message in this work was clear--the laity are called to a life of commitment and a relationship with God in all the moments of daily life. After Jane and Francis established the Visitation Order, they remained in close contact through many letters of spiritual direction and friendship. Francis died in 1622. He was canonized a saint in 1665 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1877

What is Salesian Spirituality?

Salesian Spirituality is the approach to living the Gospel outlined by the writings of Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane de Chantal. Salesian Spirituality is characterized by two primary ideas: its universal call to holiness and its down to earth practicality. Salesian Spirituality is for everyone!

Virtue for 2019-20: Joyful Presence

Saint Jane de Chantal: "Go through life with Holy Joy!"

2019-20 Salesian Banner: Go Through Life with Holy Joy!

Visitation Sisters

Sister Mary Denise, Sister Brigid Marie and Sister Mary Paula at the Mendota Heights Visitation.

In 1873, six Visitation Sisters took a steamboat up the river from Saint Louis settling in St. Paul and opening a school that September. In 1966, the Sisters moved to Mendota Heights to the current school location. The legacy of the Sisters who have gone before us is carried on in the spirit of countless Alumnae and friends. Today, three Sisters continue to grace the school community and continually teach us how to carry on Salesian Spirituality--Sr. Mary Denise Villaume '56, Sr. Mary Paula McCarthy '47, and Sr. Brigid Marie Keefe '60.

Little Virtues

Salesian Spirituality wheel of virtues.St. Francis de Sales practiced and preached about the little virtues. They include honesty, acceptance, generosity, humility, gentle strength, kindness, patience, simplicity, liberty of spirit, interiority, joyful optimism, courage, acceptance and stewardship. These little virtues are rooted in the gospel.

Sacred Heart Devotion

St Margaret Mary

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, VHM was a Visitation Sister who lived in France during the 17th century. She received visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who said, “Behold this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.” We celebrate St. Margaret Mary’s feast day on October 17 with M&Ms and prayer and devotion to the Sacred Heart every first Friday of the month with Adoration and Mass.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart of Jesus. I adore you. I praise you. I bless you. I love you with all the strength and all the love in my heart. Make my heart bigger and increase my love so that I may love you more. This is the grace I ask of you, O Sacred Heart, for all the hearts that can love you. Amen.

Salesian Resources

Legacy Corner

The Legacy Corner at Visitation School houses Sisters' history and artifacts

During the construction of Visitation’s Heart and Mind area, the Sisters’ Legacy Corner was established to honor our heritage. This contains an interactive monitor that shares stories of the Sisters, significant dates and photos. Also in the legacy corner are artifacts of the Sisters’ lives from the four Minnesota Monasteries.

Opportunities for Prayer

Adoration and First Friday Mass

Sister Mary Denise in chapel

On the first Friday of each month, we invite you to join us for Mass at 11:40 a.m. Eucharistic Adoration will be available in the Sisters' Chapel from 8 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Spend time in quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament or consider being a regular adorer. Contact Anne Williams or at 615-683-1734 for more information or to sign up for a regular prayer time.


Each Wednesday, Visitation students pray a decade of the Rosary in the Sisters' Chapel at 7:50 a.m.

Minneapolis Monastery

The North Minneapolis and Mendota Heights Sisters at Vis Reunion 2019

In 1988, after ten years of prayerful discernment, the Leadership of the Second Federation of the Visitation Order in the United States of America voted to found an urban monastic community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On October 2, 1989, four Sisters were commissioned by Archbishop John R. Roach to be founding members of the new monastery for the purpose of expressing the Mystery of the Visitation in a new way—a commitment to be one with economically challenged and marginalized persons. This was the very first initiative of its kind in the United States.

Minneapolis Monastery’s mission has remained constant, while the focus has shifted with varying neighborhood needs, demographic changes and emerging gifts and talents of the individual sisters. When they first came to Minneapolis’ North Side, their initial outreach was toward neighborhood children. They used to hang a colorful windsock on our porch six days a week to signal to the children that they were welcome to come and visit, play and pray with the Sisters and one another. Over time, they expanded their ministry to families. They presently offer education sessions, such as cooking and nutrition, finance and budgeting, college preparation, etc. for neighborhood teens and families. They are also closely connected to supporting neighborhood groups engaged in advocacy and nonviolence.

"Great opportunities to please God come along rarely, but turning life's ordinary deeds into moments of great praise to God can happen frequently." - St. Francis de Sales