Blessed Frédéric Janssoone, O.F.M. (1838 – 1916) was a member of the Friars Minor in France, hailing from the northern-easternmost tip of that country, who spent the last three decades of his priestly ministry – preaching, converting, raising funds, writing, which are all related – here in Canada, at the shrine of Notre-Dame-du-Cap, outside Trois-Rivières. He was a gifted preacher, and given the task in 1888 to revivify the shrine. It was also he who brought the Friars Minor, the reformed Franciscans, back to this country, after the early Recollets had been forbidden to take new novices.
Soon enough, miracles abounded, including the statue of Our Lady of the Cape – a copy of how the Mother of God was said to have appeared to Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830 – opening her (its?) eyes for five to ten minutes and looking around, in presence of Janssoone, right after his arrival from France, and two others others, a fellow Franciscan and a parishioner, all of whom were amazed, seeing if it were an optical illusion of some sort.
It seems fitting, for in his photograph, Father Janssoone has quite intense eyes, which seem almost to see ‘through’ you, as do most pictures of saints in the modern era, for whom we have such images. I’d imagine every saint would have that effect, as they see heaven far more than we ordinary folk, and heaven sort of looks back through them.
The long and fruitful apostolic life of Father Janssoone ended on the 4th of August, 1916, after a pain-stricken battle with stomach cancer. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 25th, 1988, and now intercedes for this, his adopted, and now beleaguered, nation. We sure could use his prayers, and why not add our own, with a pilgrimage to Notre Dame, real is best, but if you can, virtual, praying at the statue of the Lady who also seems to be watching over us.