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March 9

St Frances of Rome - March 9

Saint Frances of Rome
Wife, Mother, Mystic, Foundress
(1384 – 1440)

“A married woman, even when praising God at the altar, must when needed by her husband or the smallest member of her family, quit God at the altar and find him again in her household affairs.”

Saint Frances of Rome

Her Early Life

Francesca Bussa de’ Leoni was born in Rome, Italy, on 1384 (exact date unknown). She was the daughter of Paul Bussa and Jacobella de’ Roffredeschi, a wealthy and aristocratic couple. Frances had a younger sister Perna, who lived with her after the death of their parents.

The day she was born, Frances was baptized. At the age of six, she was confirmed in the Church of Saint Agnes in the Piazza Navona.

Arranged Married at Age 12

Francis desired to enter the convent. But, in obedience to her parents, Frances married at age twelve to a young nobleman named Lorenzo de’ Ponziani. Although the marriage had been arranged, it was a happy one, lasting for forty years. Frances was a good wife and homemaker. Francis had learned that “marriage need not diminish one’s interior grace and that Almighty God is not to be categorically limited in the distribution of His favors to any class or station in life.”

Mother At Age 16

At the age of 16 in 1400, her son, Giovanni Battista, was born and she became a mother. Four years later in 1404, her son, Giovanni Evangelista, was born. Then, in 1407, her third child, Agnes, named after her favorite saint, was born. However, Frances experienced sorrows during her marriage to Lorenzo that included losing Giovanni Evangelista and Agnes to the plague. Frances accepted these losses as the will of God and blessed His holy name.

According to one story, their son Battista was to be delivered as a hostage to the commander of the Neapolitan troops. Obeying this order on the command of her spiritual director, Frances took her son to the Campidoglio. On the way, she stopped in the Church of the Aracoeli located there and entrusted her son’s life to the Blessed Mother. When they arrived at the appointed site, the soldiers tried to put her son on a horse to transport him to captivity. However, the horse refused to move despite heavy whipping. The soldiers saw the hand of God in this and returned the boy to his mother.

Sick and Cured

Frances was ill in bed for a full year. During this time, she could not walk or speak and was in constant pain. Her husband’s family thought Frances was under a diabolical influence, so they admitted a witch to her room. Frances recognized the depraved character of her guest and regained her power of speech to oust the witch. After that event, she fell into a stupor. In the middle of the night, a bright light shone around her bed and Saint Alexis appeared to Frances in a vision. He asked whether she wanted to live or to die. She eventually responded, “God’s will is mine.” Saint Alexis then replied, “Then you will live to glorify His Name”. Immediately after that Frances recovered completely.

When her mother-in-law died, Frances became the mistress of the household. During a time of flood and famine, she turned part of the family’s country estate into a hospital and distributed food and clothing to the poor. At one point, her father-in-law was so angry that he took away from her the keys to the supply rooms. But later, he gave them back to Frances when he saw that the corn bin and wine barrel were replenished after Frances had finished praying.

Gifted Mystic

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “With her husband’s consent St. Frances practiced continence (chaste marriage), and advanced in a life of contemplation. Her visions often assumed the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages. She had the gift of miracles and ecstasy, as well as the bodily vision of her guardian angel, had revelations concerning Purgatory and Hell, and foretold the ending of the Western Schism. She could read the secrets of consciences and detect plots of diabolical origin. She was remarkable for her humility and detachment, her obedience and patience”

Foundress

On August 1425, Frances founded the Benedictine Oblates of the Tor de’ Specchi (Olivetan Oblates), a confraternity of pious women, who led the life of a religious, neither being cloistered nor bound by formal vows. Frances and her Oblates combined a life of prayer with answering the needs of their society.

In March 1433, Frances founded a monastery at Tor de’ Specchi, near the Campidoglio, to allow for a common life by those members of the confraternity. This monastery remains the only house of the Institute. The community later became known simply as the Oblates of St. Frances of Rome.

Frances spent her life and fortune, both as laywoman and religious, in the service of the sick and the poor, including the founding of the first home in Rome for abandoned children. Frances was known for her great works of charity to the poor and her zeal for souls. Frances cared for victims of epidemics and wars (both of which were frequent events in fifteenth-century Italy). Frances sold all her possessions to raise funds so as to care for the sick. Then, she and her sister-in-law, Vannozza, went door to door begging for additional money.

Widow After 40 Years of Marriage

When her husband, Lorenzo died in 1436, following forty years of married life, Frances founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivetas their superior. After his death, Frances spent the remainder of her life with her community.

Her Death

At the age of 56, Frances died on March 9, 1440 in Rome, Italy. Legend states legend that when Frances went abroad at night, her guardian angel went before her, lighting the road with a headlight-like lantern, keeping her safe in her travels. For that reason, on her feast day priests bless cars due to her patronage of cars, taxis, motorcyclists, and automobile drivers (proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on September 9, 1951).

Born :                   1384 in Rome, Italy

Died:                    March 9, 1440 in Rome, Italy

Beatified:            Unknown

Canonized:         May 29, 1608 by Pope Paul V

Feast Day:          March 9

Patron Saint:     Against Plague; Automobile Drivers; Benedictine Oblates; Cab drivers; Lay People; Motorists; People Ridiculed for their Piety; Rome, Italy; Taxi Drivers; Widows; Women

Source:

Reflection 

Most of us have will not enter the religious life of being a priest or a nun. Many of us, though, may be mothers like Saint Frances of Rome running a family household while working a job to make ends meet. Saint Frances managed to balance her spiritual life with her responsibilities as a wife and mother. She is known for her piety, charity, and dedication to serving the poor, sick and the less fortunate. Saint Francis demonstrated obedience to God’s will even finding him again in her household affairs.

How can you integrate harmoniously “praising God at the altar” into your daily life while finding Him again in your daily household and work affairs?

Prayers

Saint Frances of Rome,

Inspire in us a compassionate heart, that we may see the needs of others and respond with generosity and kindness. Teach us the value of humility, that we may surrender ourselves to the divine will and find peace in God’s plan for our lives.

As a wife and mother, you balanced the demands of family and faith. Guide us in harmonizing our spiritual journey with our daily responsibilities. Grant us the strength to persevere through challenges and to remain steadfast in our commitment to live virtuously.

Saint Frances, intercede for us in our moments of difficulty, that we may find solace in prayer and contemplation. Help us detach from worldly concerns and focus on the spiritual riches that lead us closer to God.

May your example of faith and leadership inspire us to contribute positively to our communities and to be beacons of light in the world.

Saint Frances of Rome, pray for us. Amen.

 

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Why St. Frances of Rome is the patron saint of car drivers

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Frances of Rome – Patroness of Benedictine Oblates

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 9 March – St Frances of Rome (1384-1440) Widow

Angelus – Saint of the day: Frances of Rome

America Needs Fatima – Saint Frances of Rome

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. March 9 St. Frances, Widow, Foundress of the Collatines

Catholic Culture – St. Frances of Rome

Catholic Exchange – St. Frances of Rome: Finding God in the Little Things

Catholic Ireland – Mar 9 – St Frances of Rome (1384-1440

Catholic News Agency – St. Frances of Rome: She found a path to sainthood in marriage and motherhood

Catholic Online – St. Frances of Rome

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Frances of Rome, Widow – by Katherine I Rabenstein

Father Z – 9 March – St. Frances of Rome

Franciscan Media – Saint Frances of Rome

Loyola Press – Saint Frances of Rome Feast day March 9

My Catholic Life – March 9: Saint Frances of Rome, Religious

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Frances of Rome’s Story

Saint for a Minute – Saint Frances of Rome

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Frances of Rome (1384-1440)

Saint of the Day – March 9 St Frances of Rome

Sanctoral – Saint Frances of Rome Widow (1384-1440)

Spiritual Direction – A Woman For All Seasons: St. Frances Of Rome

uCatholic – Saint Frances of Rome

Video Link

Cradio Saint of the Day: Saint Frances of Rome – YouTube (CatholicSaints.Info)

Francesca Romana – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)