2002-03-13 - Renee De France, Duchess of Ferrara
Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman attains honor.
It is common to hear about male leaders in church history, but much more uncommon to hear about women who have sacrificed much in the service of Christ. Therefore, about a year ago, I purchased a folio volume titled, "Distinguished Women," printed in 1870. It is a massive work with over 1000 pages documenting the lives of influential women throughout history. In reading another volume recently I came upon some information about Renee, daughter of Louis XII, king of France. From the volume I am reading and the other one mentioned above I have put together a short account of Renee and I hope that this life story of a godly woman will encourage you in your faith and practice of following Christ.
Both accounts admit that she was not very attractive. One says, "She had few claims to personal beauty," and the other says she was, "slightly deformed." Who needs looks when you are the daughter of a king anyway. She was born in 1510 and after coming to faith in Christ she entertained at her castle some of the most influential spiritual leaders of the time. They came to see her, not for her looks, but for her knowledge and godliness. She became so well known for her faith that those spiritual leaders of the time, who held other opinions, had her four children taken from her and brought them to another country.
Her castle became such a haven for those who were being persecuted for their faith that the duke of Guise told her to deliver up those who were in her care so that they could be punished. This would have meant death for all of them and thus she replied, "That she would not deliver them up, and that if he should attack the castle, she would be the first to place herself in the breach, to see if he would dare to kill a king's daughter." At that time there were 460 people that she was protecting and for their safety she sent them all to another country where they would be safe and financed their entire journey, sending them away in tears. She died in 1575.
What I find most interesting about Renee is that she did not need to do any of this. She was, after all, the king's daughter. She could have gone through life in her royal pedigree and lived a passive faith. No one would have questioned that. However, she went to the front lines of spiritual warfare and risked all her earthly comforts and privileges to serve Christ who had done all for her. She had much to lose, probably more than any of us have, but her mind was set on heavenly things. That is really impressive and it ought to encourage us to be willing to risk much in our service of Christ also. Most of us do not have castles where we can harbor hundreds of people, but we all have things we can do in service to Christ. We all have risks we can take. Let Renee be an encouragement to you. God protected her and she lived to be 65 years old, which was good for those days. Renee served the same God we serve so we can count on Him being with us also as we boldly go where the Lord would lead us.
Soli Deo Gloria,