Two Virgins Compared- Mary & Jeanne D’Albret

Two virgins were called by God to fulfill 2 different purposes. They were called from two different eras, two different time zones, two different cultures and from two different families. 

  • One was in the BC era, the other in the AD era.
  • One was from the Middle East, the other from Europe.
  • One came from humble beginnings and the other came from nobility.
  • One was willing to do God’s will, the other unwilling to do her Uncle’s will.
  • One’s job was done when her baby was born, the other’s job began when her baby was a toddler.
  • One’s name have lived on for centuries and have been immortalized by Christmas carols, generation after generation. In fact, new carols are composed and sung about her from time to time. You can thank Pentatonix for popularizing the now famous, ‘Mary Did You Know?’ 
  • The other’s name has faded into obscurity. Many of you will be hearing about her for the first time. 

Yet, their roles were pivotal, in their eras, for God to accomplish His plans. The main thing they had in common was that they each bore a king. The one of humble birth bore the King of Kings, the other of noble birth bore Henry IV, the King of France.

In Luke 1: 46-50 we read:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

This was Mary’s song of praise. She was excited that she was the chosen virgin to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 which says: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 

God calls us all to do special tasks. Do you know your calling?

For Mary, it was to fulfill the prophecy to bear God’s Son – Immanuel.

For Jeanne D’Albret of Navarre, it was to lead the way for the protection of the French protestants in the fledgling days of the Reformation in France. 

But Jeanne, before she got to that point, had to demonstrate her resolute personality and spunkiness to her uncle – Francis 1 of France.  Francis’ plans were thwarted so that God could accomplish His plan through Francis’ niece, Jeanne D’Albret. 

She displayed the kind of courage that God and only God could give. She was bold and courageous as a 13-year old virgin and became bolder and more courageous as the leader of the Protestant movement in France, as an adult.

So what did this virgin do?

Well, in those days, the King arranged the marriage of any noblewoman in his kingdom. Often, it was a marriage of convenience that benefited the Crown’s acquisition of lands, and / or political advantage against his rivals. 

In 1541, Francis decreed that Jeanne should marry a German prince – William of Julich-Cleves Berg. Jeanne was adamantly against the marriage. 

At 13 years old she composed a document which she had her courtiers sign as witnesses. This document stated that she DID NOT agree to the marriage and NEVER WOULD agree to it. 

Even though she was whipped into submission and forcefully taken to the altar, she never submitted. The marriage was never consummated and was subsequently annulled. 

Apparently, her mom Queen Marguerite of Navarre, the sister of Francis I, requested that she be left at the court until she was 15. The marriage was therefore annulled when Prince William found a more lucrative political deal to pursue. 

When Francis I began his persecution of the Protestants (Huguenots), Jeanne’s mother, Francis’s sister – Queen Marguerite of Navarre, began the practice of protecting the persecuted Protestants (Huguenots) in her country of Navarre. She actually harboured John Calvin when he flrd from France to Geneva. 

When Marguerite died, Jeanne became Queen of Navarre because she was the only heir to the throne.  She had married Antoine de Bourbon, a Protestant sympathizer who eventually professed faith in Jesus Christ, but recanted later. It was a marriage of love and not of political arrangements. 

Jeanne continued to shelter persecuted Protestants after her cousin, Henry II, succeeded Francis I to the throne. He was responsible for passing horrific laws to implement torture and confiscation of property which were much stricter punishments on Huguenots than his father Francis had meted out. He was surprised that Protestantism flourished in spite of the increasing severity of his cruel laws and torture. The previous terrible laws ‘did not work’, he thought, to stamp out Protestantism.

As a testament to the courage Jeanne displayed as a 13 year old, after Henry died, Jeanne publicly professed faith in Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in 1561 when she embraced the teachings of John Calvin.

Next, she declared her country to be a Protestant country – the first Protestant country in Europe, and maybe the world.

Henry III of Navarre (Henry IV of France) was just a three-year toddler at the time.  Her only son eventually became Henry IV of France.

Her husband, Antoine, was killed in the early days of the 1st War of Religion. Jeanne became the de facto political and spiritual leader of the Huguenots in their fight against the Catholic establishment and the crown. 

Fast forward to 1604. Under Henry IV, the first permanent settlements in Canada were established (Acadia and New France).

So there you have it. The Tale of Two Virgins: Two virgins were called by God to fulfill two different purposes.

God called the virgin Mary to bear his King of Kings, while He saved Jeanne d’ Albret from a forced marriage so she could raise up a king to lead His people in the fight against tyranny and persecution. Her only son was Henry III of Navarre who became Henry IV of France.

Henry IV of France was instrumental in the establishment of Tadoussac as the first fur trading settlement in Canada. Tadoussac actually boasts the oldest standing building in Canada. It was built by the Huguenot Pierre Chauvin de Tonnetuit and is a tourist attraction and World Heritage Site in Quebec.

Henry’s friend, fellow Huguenot soldier, and nobleman, Pierre du Gua de Monts was responsible for establishing the first large-scale settlement with the help of Samuel de Champlain (also a Huguenot), at Port Royal in Nova Scotia. He also grew the first wheat crop in North America.

So friends, like Paul Harvey used to say, ‘And now you know the rest of the story’.

I trust that we have given you something new to mull on this Christmastime.  We pray that you will discover your calling, and do it with boldness and courage. May you attempt great things for Christ’s Kingdom in 2023. 

Author’s Note: Lynette is the owner of ChristianRoots Canada. Blogger. Publisher. Course Creator. Passionate about Canadian History from the perspective of God’s Providence.

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