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Monday, 20 May 2024
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St Frances of Rome


Frances was born in Rome in 1384. Her parents, of high rank, overruled her desire to become a nun and, when she reached the age of twelve, married her to Lorenzo Ponziano, a Roman noble. During the forty years of their married life they never had a disagreement. While spending her days in retirement and prayer, Saint Frances attended promptly to every household duty, saying, 'A married woman must leave God at the altar to find Him in her domestic cares'. Her ordinary food was dry bread, and secretly she would exchange with beggars good food for their hard crusts.

Two of her children died young. During the invasion of Rome in 1413, Lorenzo was banished, his estates confiscated, his house destroyed, and his eldest son taken as a hostage. Frances saw in these losses only the hand of God, and blessed His holy Name. When peace was restored Ponziano recovered his estates.

After her husband's death, Saint Frances founded a Community of Benedictine Oblate nuns. She is one of 39 saints that founded religious congregations and whose statue is in St Peter's Basilica in Rome. At the age of forty-three, barefoot and with a cord about her neck, she asked admission to the community, and was soon elected Superior.

She lived at all times in the presence of God and, among many visions, was given constant sight of her Angel, who shed such a brightness around him that the Saint could read her midnight Office by this light alone. He shielded her in time of temptation, and directed her in every good act. But, when she fell into some fault, he faded from her sight, and whenever any unsuitable words were spoken before her, he covered his face in shame. Saint Frances died on the day she foretold, March 9th, 1440.