St. Frances of Rome: Wife, Mother, and Mystic
The saint of the day for March 9th is St. Frances of Rome, one of the great mystics of the 15th century. She was born in Rome to a noble family in 1384 and died in Rome on March 9, 1440. Frances desired to enter the convent, but in obedience to her parents was instead married at age twelve to a young nobleman named Lorenzo de’ Ponziani. She was a good wife and homemaker, and the mother to three children.
As a lay person, Frances became an Oblate with the Benedictine Oblate Congregation of Tor di Speechi and led the life of a religious, without taking formal vows. She spent much of her time in prayer and in doing works. She was humble, detached, and advanced in a life of contemplation. She had the supernatural gift of visions, miracles, and ecstasy and saw the bodily image of her guardian angel. She had visions of heaven and hell and foresaw the Western schism. She also possessed the gift of reading consciences.
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). In 1409 Lorenzo was forced into exile because of a civil war; he returned five years later as a broken man, and Frances also cared for him, in addition to her other activities. A severe plague struck Rome, claiming two of the couple’s three children; Frances sold all her possessions to raise funds so as to care for the sick, and then she and her sister-in-law went door to door begging for additional money. Frances accepted these losses as the will of God and blessed His holy name.
When her husband Lorenzo died in 1436, following forty years of married life, Frances founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivet, and spent the remainder of her life with her community. She died in 1440 at age 56. She was canonized on May 29, 1608 by Pope Paul V.
Quote: “A married woman must often leave God at the altar to find Him in her household care.”
Dear Frances, you were an exemplary wife, ever faithful to your husband. After his death, you founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivet, revealing your great devotion to our Lord’s Passion. Your faith in angels was rewarded by frequent visions of them. Please pray for Catholics in our day that they may be as dedicated to God as you were. Amen.