Like Mary, whose Assumption we have been celebrating for the last seven days, St. Jane Frances de Chantal was a spouse, a mother and a widow. She was born at Dijon, in the same country as St. Bernard, and received the baptismal name of Jane, because that day, January 23, 1572, was the feast of St. John the Almoner.
The name of Frances which she added at her confirmation, reminds us of the gentle saint of Geneva. As in days of yore Benedict and Scholastica, Francis of Assisi and Clare, so Francis of Sales and Jane Frances, corresponding with the designs of divine Providence, united their pious efforts and enriched the Church by the "foundation of a new family" (Collect).
At the death of Baron de Chantal (1601), his young widow consecrated herself to God by a vow of perpetual chastity, and she wrote with a red hot iron the name of Jesus on her breast.
This strong woman, spoken of in the Epistle, left everything to acquire at this price the precious pearl of a religious life (Gospel).
Her father and four of her six children were still living.
"Let us stop shedding tears," this venerable old man said to her, "that we may better honour the holy will of God." Her son, Celse-Benigne, opposed his mother's departure and laid himself across the door: "If," he said, "I cannot keep you back, you will at least have to pass over the body of your son."
Madame de Chantal in spite of her maternal feelings and after shedding a torrent of tears, gathered up her strength and passed over the body of her son.
She became the mother of innumerable nuns of the Order of the Visitation, now dispersed over the whole world. Filled with the spirit of divine charity (Postcommunion), she constantly repeated to them, like St. John, the apostle: "Let us love God with our whole heart and our neighbour as ourselves for the love of God." She died at Moulins in 1641.
Like St. Jane Frances, and by her intercession, let us pray God, that, knowing our weakness and relying on His strength, we may by His grace overcome all obstacles (Collect).
Cognovi, Domine, quia aequitas judicia tua, et in veritate tua humiliasti me: confige timore tuo carnes meas, a mandatis tuis timui. * Beati immaculati in via, qui ambulant in lege Domini.
I know, O Lord, that Thy judgements are equity, and in Thy truth Thou hast humbled me: pierce Thou my flesh with Thy fear, I am afraid of Thy judgements. * Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
(Psalm 118:75 and 120:1 from the Introit of Mass).
Omnipotens et misericors Deus, qui beatam Joannam Franciscam tuo amore succensam, admirabili spiritus fortitudine per omnes vitae semitas in via perfections donasti, quique per illam illustrare Ecclesiam tuam nova prole voluisti: ejus meritis et precibus concede; ut, qui infirmitatis nostrae conscii de tua virtute confidimus, caelestis gratiae auxilio, cuncta nobis adversantia vincamus.
Almighty and merciful God, who didst endow blessed Jane Frances with wonderful strength of soul, and wast pleased to lead her, burning always with love of Thee, through every path of life along the way of perfection; and by means of her didst bless Thy Church with new and illustrious spiritual offspring: graciously regard her merits and prayers, and grant that we who, fully conscious of our own weakness, put all our trust in the strength which comes from Thee, may by the help of Thy grace, overcome all things which withstand us.
From the Catholic Encyclopaedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08282c.htm