History of the Order
The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary was founded in 1610 by St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, and St. Jane Frances Freymiot, Baroness de Chantal. St. Francis de Sales felt inspired to found an Order that could receive older women or those not strong enough to enter existing religious Orders, who felt called to dedicate their lives wholly to God. He opened the doors to widows, to older women, as well as the young and strong; the sweetness of charity and the spirit of humility, exemplified by Mary and Elizabeth, would give them a holy equality. Thus, St. Francis wished that austerities would not be professed by the Sisters, but that the fervor of charity, and the force of an interior devotion would make up for them.