St. Frances of Rome
St Frances of Rome was an Italian saint who was born in 1384 in Rome towealthy parents and she died in 1440. She was happily married for fortyyears to a well off man and they had three children. She was a wife, amother and organizer of charitable services. She was also highlydedicated to the Benedictines which is a monastic religious order whichis the official order of St Benedict.
From the tender age of eleven, she wanted to be a nun but when she wastwelve years old her parents forced her to marry Lorenzo Ponziani.Lorenzo was the commander of the papal troops of Rome and he was from anextremely wealthy family.
When her mother in law passed away, St Frances became the mistress ofthe household.
Even though her dream to be a nun did not come true, she was able to doher charitable deeds. In the company of her sister in law, Vannozza,they visited the poor and took care of the sick. These charitable deedsserved as an inspiration to other wealthy men to do the same.
During a time of flood and famine, with her authority as the mistress ofher household, she was able to turn part of the family’s country estateinto a hospital. She also distributed food and clothes to the poor. Shealso went on to make their beds and cleaned their sores.
St Frances’ father in law was not happy with the way she was giving thehousehold supplies to the poor and at some point he took the keys fromthe supply rooms from her. However he later returned them to her.
St Frances is known for fasting a lot and she is said to have developedcontinual suffering.
St Frances is also believed to have had visions which were usually inthe form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages. She also hadthe gift of miracles and ecstasies as well as bodily visions of herguardian angels.
She also had visions of Hell and the purgatory and foretold the end. StFrances was also capable of reading the secrets of conscience sanddetect plots of evil origins.
St Frances was remarkable for her humility, detachment, obedience andpatients.
Impact of Power Struggles
There was a time when there was a war between the pope in Rome andvarious anti-popes and her husband was in support of the pope. Thisresulted in their son Battista having to be delivered as a hostage tothe commander of the Napoleon Troops (anti-popes) and she escorted herson to the soldiers.
On her way to meet the soldiers she entrusted hers son’s life to theBlessed mother and when they finally met with the soldiers and her sonwas put on the horse, the horse refused to move. Despite all effortsincluding heavy whipping the horse, it did not move. The soldiers thenreturned Battista to his mother as they saw the hand of God in this.
Also due to St Frances’ husband’s support of the pope, they were forcedinto exile and much of Lorenzo’s property and possessions weredestroyed. He was also severely injured and his wife St Frances nursedhim.
During the time when her husband was injured and their household wasattacked, she is the only one who remained strong and kept the faith yeteveryone grieved the misfortunes that had befallen them.
The city of Rome was in chaos during this time when the pope and variouspowers were having power struggles. During this time St Frances alsoopened her home as a hospital. Unfortunately St Frances and Lorenzo losttwo children during the plague.
On August 15, 1425, St Frances founded the Olivetan Oblates of Marywhich is a confraternity of pious women which is under the authority ofOlivetan monks.
In March 1433 she also founded the monastery at Tor de’ Specchi whichallowed those members of the confraternity who felt so-called and thismonastery remains the only house of the institute.
The community later became known as the Oblates of St Frances of Rome.St Frances remained in her home nursing her own husband for the lastseven years of his life. After her husband’s death in 1436 she movedinto the monastery and became the superior.
Her grave was identified in 1638 and her remains which were now mainlybones were reburied in the church of Santa Maria Nova on March 9, 1649.Her bones were exhumed again in 1869 and they are now displayed in aglass coffin for the venetration.
The church of Santa Maria Nova is now usually referred to as the Churchof St Frances.
She was canonized in 1608 and March 9 is considered her feast day.
St France is known as the patron saint of automobile drivers becausethere is a legend that says an angel used to light the road before herwith a lantern when she travelled.
St Frances is also known as the patron saint of all oblates and thepatron saint of widows.
6 Interesting Facts About St. Frances of Rome
- Even though she was in an arranged marriage, it was a happy one.
- Soon after her marriage, St Frances fell ill and she claimed that
St Alexis appeared to her and cured her.
- Her father in law saw that even though she was taking supplies
from the household to give to the poor, they will be replenished when
she finished the prayer.
- Over 60 cases were attested to her gift of healing during her
- She personally drove her wagon in search for firewood and herbs
- Her remains were found incorrupt some months after her death
Prayer to St. Frances of Rome
Merciful Father,in Frances, if Romeyou have given usa unique example of love in marriageas well as in religious life.Keep us faithful in your service,and help us to see and follow youin all the aspects of life.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with youin the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, forever and ever.Amen