Feast Day: March 09
Frances, was born in the Trastevere district of Rome, to parents who were both wealthy and deeply religious. With the Benedictine spiritual director her mother chose for her, Frances planned an ascetic religious life for herself, but her parents had already chosen a husband for her. She became a young bride and mother, marrying at the age of 12 after her father denounced her desire to become a nun. The early years of her marriage were hard on Frances, as she preferred prayer and penance over her husband’s parties and play.
Frances and her sister-in-law snuck away daily to Mass, pledging to God that they would be dutiful wives despite their longing to work with the poor. Frances saw everyone—rich and poor, nobility and peasantry—as her equal, and thus was a positive influence on her peers. Other women of class and privilege turned to Frances for spiritual advice and support and often imitated her generosity to the poor, as well as her devotion to her husband and children. They also came to follow her in her faith and service to God.
After the death of her husband to whom she had been married for forty years, Frances joined the religious community she had founded (Oblates of Tor de Specchi, after the tower into which they moved in 1433). They were not religious Sisters and did not take vows, but they were committed to living in common (which Frances could not do while her husband was alive) and devoting their lives to works of mercy. Frances is known to have had mystical experiences and revelations, and to have had the constant apparition of her guardian angel. She developed remarkable powers of healing (which she attributed to her guardian angel), and the fame of these spread all over Rome.
Miracles of healing attended her death and the odor of sanctity was intensely noted in the room in which she died. During the time that the funeral was delayed due to the mass of people who wanted to pay their respects, the fragrance continued to linger—to the delight of the visitors.
When a monumental tomb was prepared a few months after her death, the first tomb was opened to effect the transfer of Frances’ remains. At this time the body was found perfectly preserved and still exhaling the same sweet fragrance as before. Currently, the Saint’s body is no longer incorrupt.
“A married woman must, when called upon, quit her devotions to God at the altar to find him in her household affairs.” — St. Frances of Rome
Burns, Paul. “Butler’s Saint for the Day.” Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2007.
Cruz, Joan Carroll. “Mysteries Marvels Miracles in the Lives of the Saints.” Charlotte: TAN Books, 1997.
Trigilio, Rev. John, Ph.D, Th.D, and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, Ph.D. “Saints for Dummies.” Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2010.
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons