St Frances of Rome, was the founder of a religious community of Benedictine Oblates. She was born in 1384 AD in Rome, Italy, and died on March 9 1440 in Rome.
We celebrate her feast day on March 9 every year in the Catholic Church.
Saint Frances of Rome is the Patron Saint of
- Benedictine oblates
- Automobile drivers
|St Frances of Rome Biography|
|Date of Birth||1384 AD|
|Place of Birth||Rome, Italy|
|Profession||Patroness of Benedictine Oblates|
|Place of Work||Rome, Italy|
|Date of Death||March 9 1440|
|Place of Death||Rome, Italy|
|Feast Day||March 9|
|Canonization||By Pope Paul V in 1608 in Rome, Papal States|
|Patron Saint of||
St Frances of Rome Life History
St. Frances of Rome was born into a wealthy and noble family in Rome in 1384. Her parents were Paolo Bussa and Iacobella dei Roffredeschi. She inherited a strong will from her father and a quiet and pious devotion to God from her mother.
At the age of eleven, St. Frances of Rome desired to become a nun. However, when she turned twelve, her parents obliged her to marry Lorenzo Ponziani, a member of a wealthy family and the commander of the papal troops in Rome.
Despite her initial desire to become a nun, she married Lorenzo and remained married to him for forty years.
Shortly after her marriage, St. Frances of Rome became seriously ill. Her husband called in a man who practiced magic, but Frances rebuked him and commanded him to leave, recognizing him as a servant of Satan.
She refused to allow him back into her home again. Eventually, she received a vision from St. Alexis, which led to her miraculous healing.
St. Frances of Rome, together with her sister-in-law Vannozza, dedicated themselves to visiting the poor and caring for the sick.
Their actions served as an inspiration to other wealthy women in the city, who followed their example and also began to offer assistance to those in need.
Following the death of her mother-in-law, St. Frances of Rome assumed the role of mistress of the household.
During a period of flooding and famine, she converted a portion of the family’s country estate into a hospital and provided aid to the poor by distributing food and clothing to them.
At the start of the 15th century, St. Frances of Rome gave birth to her first child, a son named Battista, after John the Baptist. Later on, she had two more children: a boy named Giovanni Evangelista and a girl named Agnes.
There is an account that during a flood in Rome, disease and famine plagued the city. St. Frances of Rome responded by instructing that no one asking for alms be turned away.
She and her sister-in-law Vannozza distributed corn, wine, oil, and clothing to the poor. Frances’ father-in-law was so outraged by her actions that he confiscated the keys to the supply rooms.
However, upon seeing that the corn bin and wine barrel had miraculously been replenished after Frances had finished praying, he returned the keys to her.
During the Western Schism of the Catholic Church, when there were wars between the pope in Rome and various anti-popes, a story is told that St. Frances of Rome’s son Battista was to be handed over as a hostage to the commander of the Neapolitan troops.
This happened after an antipope sent a cruel governor, Count Troja, to conquer Rome and her husband Lorenzo was seriously wounded and his brother was arrested in one of the battles.
Troja demanded that Battista, who was Frances’s son and the heir of the family, be handed over to him as ransom. Under the guidance of her spiritual director, Frances obeyed this order and took her son to the troops.
Along the way, she stopped at the Church of the Aracoeli and entrusted her son’s life to the Blessed Mother.
When they arrived at the designated location, the soldiers tried to put Battista on a horse to take him into captivity.
However, the horse refused to move despite being whipped heavily. The soldiers saw this as the hand of God and returned the boy to his mother.
During a time of forced exile, Lorenzo was wounded so severely that he never fully recovered and his property and possessions were destroyed. His son Battista was taken hostage in Naples.
Around that time of exile, a plague broke out in Rome that took the lives of many people, including Frances’s nine-year-old son, Evangelista.
In the aftermath of destruction and ruin in Rome, wolves were known to roam the streets. Despite this, Frances opened up her home once again to serve as a hospital.
She also collected wood for fire and herbs for medicine by driving her wagon through the countryside. According to legend, an angel would light the road before her with a lantern, keeping her safe from any dangers along the way.
The wars eventually ended, and Battista and Frances’s husband were able to return home. However, while Battista came back as a charming young man, Frances’s husband returned broken in both mind and body. Despite this, Battista went on to marry a young woman named Mabilia who was known for her beauty.
Frances remained in her own home, nursing her husband for the last seven years of his life from wounds he had received in battle until he died in 1436. His final words to her were, “I feel as if my whole life has been one beautiful dream of purest happiness. God has given me so much in your love.”
After Lorenzo’s passing, Frances moved into the house with the other Oblates and was appointed as the superior.
At 52 years old, she was finally living the life she had dreamed of since she was eleven. She had correctly discerned her original vocation.
On August 15, 1425, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, she established the Olivetan Oblates of Mary, a group of devout women who were not bound by formal vows and were not cloistered, under the authority of the Olivetan monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria Nova in Rome.
This allowed them to follow Frances’ example of combining a life of prayer with meeting the needs of their society.
In March 1433, Frances founded a monastery at Tor de’ Specchi for the members of the confraternity who felt called to a common life.
This monastery became the only house of the Institute, and on July 4 1433, they received the approval of Pope Eugene IV as a religious congregation of oblates with private religious vows. The community later became known as the Oblates of St Frances of Rome.
St. Frances of Rome died in 1440 and was interred at the Church of Santa Maria. Pope Paul V canonized her on May 9, 1608.
Her remains were exhumed in 1869 and have been displayed in a glass casket for veneration by the devoted ever since. The Church of Santa Maria Nova is now commonly known as the Church of St. Frances.
In 1925, Pope Pius XI declared her the patron saint of automobile drivers because of a legend that an angel used to light the road before her with a lantern when she traveled, keeping her safe from hazards.
She is also the patron saint of
- Benedictine oblates
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