"In fact, woman has a genius all her own,
which is vitally essential to both society and the Church." --John Paul II

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Feast of St Frances of Rome

Poor Frances!  Born in 1384, by the age of eleven she was sure that God was calling her to be a nun.  However, her father was sure Frances was being called to marry (after all, he had arranged the marriage.)

In an effort to do God's will, she finally consented to the marriage.  Her new husband was from a noble family, which meant that the new bride was thrust into Rome's high society.  Doing God's will now meant living up to her mother-in-law's standards of what a society wife should be: attending banquets and paying calls and entertaining.

To her surprise, though, Frances found a kindred spirit in her sister-in-law.  Together they prayed and did works of charity, while performing the roles expected by their family.  When famine came to Rome, they shared as much as they could with the poor.  Frances's father-in-law took exception to her generosity -- how could she give away all their stores when there was a famine on! -- until the contents of the family's granary and wine cask were found to be miraculously replenished.

Over the course of her life, God granted Frances visions (often, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "in the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages.")  She was also given the favor of being able to see her guardian angel (who at one point advised her to lay off the bread-and-water and the hair shirt).

Frances continued to persist in her trust in God and in her generosity to the poor through hard years of war and invasion.  She eventually founded the Oblates of Mary, a lay order for women attached to a Benedictine monastery.   After she was widowed, she moved to the Oblates' house to live in community with the other widows of the order:  religious life at last!  She died at the age of fifty-six.

Catholic Online, my main source, has much more about Saint Frances, including this lovely prayer:

Saint Frances of Rome,
help us to see the difference between what we want to do
and what God wants us to do.
Help us to discern what comes from our will
and what comes from God's desire. Amen.

Especially when God's desire comes in a way we're not expecting....


  1. Thank you, Peony! I read the little blurb this morning and I'm really happy to learn more about St. Frances.


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