Saint of the Day – 14 January – St Macrina the Elder (Died c 340) Widow, Mother of the elder St Basil and, therefore, the Grandmother of St Basil the Great, St Gregory of Nyssa, St Peter of Sebaste and St Macrina the Younger. Macrina was a native of Cappadocia, in what is now eastern Turkey. Patronages – against poverty, of the poor, of widows. Also known as – Macrina of Caesarea.
The Roman Martyrology says today: “St Macrina, disciple of St Gregory Thaumaturgus and the grandmother of St Basil, whom she brought up in the Faith.”
Our knowledge of the life of the elder Macrina is derived mainly from the testimony of the great Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, her grandchildren – Basil, Gregory of Nyssa (Vita Macrinae Junioris) and the panegyric of St Gregory of Nazianzen on St Basil.
Two of these grandsons helped shape the Faith which we proclaim today—Basil the Great, a Doctor of the Church and his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, who helped the Church better articulate her understanding of the Trinity. Both of these men played crucial roles in formulating the Nicene Creed which Catholics still recite every Sunday at Mass. Macrina raised both of these men and their influential younger sister, Macrina the Younger. She gave all these great Saints their first religious instruction as children.
The works of Basil indicate that she studied under Gregory Thaumaturgus (or the Wonderworker), the great father of the Faith in Cappadocia, he of whom it is said that when he arrived in the territory, there were only seventeen Christians in the Town of Neocaesarea; when he died in 268, there were only seventeen pagans. It was his teachings, handed down through Macrina to Basil and Gregory that were particularly formative for the two Cappadocian brothers.
Her home was at Neocaesarea in Pontus and according to Gregory Nazianzen, during the persecution of Christians under Galerius and Diocletian, Macrina fled with her husband to the shores of the Black Sea. They left their home and hid in the woods for seven years. They were often hungry and had to live off the land and whatever animals they could hunt. After they were finally allowed to go home to Neocaesarea, another round of persecution took effect and their possessions were confiscated. These trials are the reason for her patronage of the poor.
She was widowed and is also the Patron of widows. She is said to have died in the early 340s
Saint of the Day – 8 October – St Bridget of Sweden (c 1303-1373) Widow – Patronages – Europe, Sweden, widows.
St Bridget, Widow By Fr Francis Xavier Lasance (1860-1946
St Bridget, known in the entire Church of God, on account of the many divine revelations with which she was graced, was born in Sweden, of noble and pious parents. Shortly before the birth of Bridget, her mother was in great danger of shipwreck but was miraculously saved. In the following night, a venerable old man appeared to her, who said: “God has saved your life on account of the child to whom you will give birth. Educate it carefully, for it will arrive at great holiness.” This command was faithfully followed by the pious mother as long as she lived. After her death, Bridget, then only seven years old, was given into the charge of a very devout aunt, who brought her up most piously.
When ten years of age, she heard a sermon on the bitter passion and death of our Lord, which made a deep impression on her young and tender heart. In the following night, Christ appeared to her, hanging on the Cross, while streams of blood flowed from His wounds. Bridget, deeply moved, cried out: “O, Lord, who has so maltreated thee?” “Those who despise My love,” answered Christ, that is, those who transgress My laws and are ungrateful for My immeasurable love for them. This vision remained in Bridget’s memory and caused her, from that hour, to manifest the most tender devotion to the Passion and Death of the Saviour, of which she could never think without shedding tears.
This vision was followed by many others, especially during her prayers, which the Saint loved so well that it seemed as if no other occupation could give her joy or contentment. She often rose quietly during the night and passed hours in pious meditation. She also used many ways and means, to mortify her delicate body, so as to resemble, in silently enduring pain, Him Who had suffered so infinitely more for her.
In obedience to her father, she, at the age of thirteen, gave her hand to Ulpho, Prince of Nericia, whose heart she won so entirely by her amiability and sweetness of manners, that she weaned him, in a short time, from gaming, immoderate luxury in dress and other similar faults and induced him to lead a life pleasing to God, by his assiduity in prayer and in going to Confession. She lived with him in undisturbed love and harmony. She was also very solicitous for her domestics and allowed nothing that might offend the Almighty or prevent His blessing from coming upon her house.
She became the mother of four sons and as many daughters. Two of her sons died in their innocence; two while travelling in the Holy Land. Two of her daughters lived at Court, and became models of all virtues. The third became a Nun and led a holy life and the fourth, Catherine, was numbered among the Saints; which is evidence of the pious care with which St. Bridget educated her children. She herself instructed them in religion and in the way of living piously and led them, from their most tender years, to practise works of charity and mortification, being an example to them in all virtuous deeds.
With the consent of Ulpho, she founded a hospital and waited daily, at certain hours, like a servant, on the poor and sick resident there. She often washed their feet, kissing them most reverentially.
Her husband became dangerously ill on his return from Compostella, whither he had gone with St Bridget, to visit the tomb of the holy Apostle St James. But St Dionysius, who appeared to Bridget, announced to her, besides other future events, that Ulpho would soon recover. She soon saw this prophecy fulfilled and had atoo, the joy of perceiving that Ulpho was disgusted with the world and desired to end his life in retirement. With the permission of his pious spouse, he went into a Cistercian Monastery, where he ended his life most devoutly.
Bridget lived thirty years after her husband had entered a Monastery and, being free from many former cares and anxieties, she devoted herself with great zeal, to a most perfect and penitential life. Her temporal possessions she gave to her children, clothed herself in a penitential robe, and unweariedly practised acts of devotion, charity and penane. She fasted four times in the week and on Friday, took only water and bread. She gave the greater part of the night to prayer, spending whole hours prostrate before the Crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament. Every Friday she let fall a few drops of boiling wax into a wound which she had, to remember, by the pain this gave her, the suffering of our Lord. She daily fed twelve poor persons and served them at table. She founded a Convent for sixty Nuns and gave them a Rule, which she had received from Christ Himself. These regulations were afterwards adopted by many houses of Religious men. This was the origin of the celebrated Brigittine Order. St Bridget herself, entered a Convent which she had founded and was a shining light to all in the practice of virtue.
Having lived there for two years, she was commanded, in a vision, to make a pilgrimage to Rome, with her daughter Catherine and thence to the Holy Land. On her return, a malignant fever seized her, which greatly increased when she had arrived at Rome and lasted a whole year. The great pains she suffered were made easy to her, by the thought of the bitter passion of our Saviour and for love of Him, she was willing to endure much more. She derived the greatest comfort from a vision in which God appeared to her and assured her of her salvation. The hour of her death was also made known to her by Divine revelation. She prepared herself most carefully for her end and after receiving the holy Sacraments, she breathed her last in the arms of her holy daughter and, rich in merits and virtues, went to receive her reward in Heaven, in the 71st. year of her age, in the year 1373. Before and after her death, God wrought many and great miracles by her intercession. Her body was taken to Sweden on the 7th of this month.
Saint of the Day – 21 August – St Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641) Widow, Mother, Foundress of the Congregation of the Visitation. Close friend of St Francis de Sales and St Vincent de Paul, both of whom guided and assisted her and her foundation, spiritually Patronages – against in-law problems, against the death of parents, forgotten people, parents separated from children, widows.
St Jane Frances de Chantal, Widow From the Liturgical Year, 1909
Jane Frances Freiniot de Chantal was born at Dijon in Burgundy, France, of noble parents and from her childhood gave clear signs of her future great sanctity. It was said that when only five years of age, she put to silence a Calvinist nobleman by substantial arguments, far beyond her age, and, when he offered her a little present, she immediately threw it into the fire, saying: “This is how heretics will burn in hell because they do not believe Christ when He speaks.”
When she lost her mother, she put herself under the care of the Virgin Mother of God,and dismissed a maid servant who was enticing her to love of the world. There was nothing childish in her manners. she shrank from worldly pleasures, and thirsting for martyrdom, she devoted herself entirely to religion and piety. She was given in marriage by her father to the Baron de Chantal and in this new state of life, she strove to cultivate every virtue and busied herself in instructing in faith and morals, her children, her servants and all under her authority. Her liberality in relieving the necessities of the poor was very great and more than once, God miraculously multiplied her stores of provisions – on this account, she promised never to refuse anyone who begged an alms in Christ’s Name.
Her husband, having been killed while hunting, she determined to embrace a more perfect life and bound herself ,by a vow of chastity. She not only bore her husband’s death with resignation but, overcame herself, so far, as to stand as the Godmother, to the child of the man who had killed him, in order to give a public proof that she pardoned him. She contented herself with a few servants and with plain food and dress, devoting her costly garments, to pious usages. Whatever time remained from her domestic cares, she employed in prayer, pious reading and good works. She could never be induced to accept offers of a second marriage, even though, honourable and advantageous. In order not to be shaken in her resolution of observing chastity, she renewed her vow and imprinted the most Holy Name of Jesus Christ upon her breast with a red-hot iron. Her love grew more ardent day by day. She had the poor, the abandoned, the sick and those, who were afflicted with the most terrible diseases, brought to her and not only sheltered, and comforted but also, nursed them. She washed and mended their filthy garments and did not shrink from putting her lips to their running sores.
Having learnt the will of God from St Francis de Sales, her Director, she founded the Institute of the Visitation of Our Lady. For this purpose, she quitted, with unfaltering courage, her father, her father-in-law and even her son, over whose body she had to step, in order to leave her home, so violently did he oppose her vocation. She observed her Rule with the utmost fidelity and so great was her love of poverty that she rejoiced to be in want, of even the necessaries of life.
She was a perfect model of Christian humility, obedience, and all other virtues. Wishing for still higher ascensions in her heart, she bound herself by a most difficult vow, always to do what she thought most perfect. At length when the Order of the Visitation had spread far and wide, chiefly through her endeavours, after encouraging her sisters to piety and charity, by words and example and also, by writings full of divine wisdom, laden with merits, she passed to the Lord at Moulins, having duly received the Sacraments of the Church. She died on the 13 December, in the year 1641.
St Vincent de Paul, who was, at a great distance, saw her soul being carried to Heaven and St Francis de Sales coming to meet her. Her body was afterwards translated to Annecy. Miracles having made her illustrious, both before and after her death, Pope Benedict XIV. placed her among the Blessed and Pope Clement XIII. among the Saints. Pope Clement XIV. commanded her Feast to be celebrated by the Universal Church.
Saint of the Day – 4 January – Saint Pharaildis of Ghent (c 650-c 740) Virgin, although married, she remained a virgin during her marriage, apostle of charity, miracle-worker. Born in c 650 in Ghent, Belgium and died in c 740 of natural causes. Patronages – against childhood diseases, of toothache, difficult marriages, poultry, victims of abuse, widows, Ghent, Belgium, Smetlede, Belgium, Bruay, France. Also known as – Farahilde, Farailde, Pharaild, Pharailde, Pherailde, Vareide, Varelde, Veerhilde, Veerle, Verylde. The name of this Saint, very popular in Flanders, varies according to the various local dialects.
The Roman Martyrology states: ”In Bruay-sur-l’Escaut near Valencienne nell’Artois in Neustria, in modern-day ||Belgium, Saint Pharaildis, widow, who, forced to marry a violent man, is said to have embraced a life of prayer and austerity until old age.”
A native of a noble Belgium family, Pharaildis was the daughter of the Duke of Lotharingia called Witger and St Amalberga of Maubeuge. Her sister was Saint Gudule (c 646-c 700) and they were nieces of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles (c 628- 659).
After making a private vow of virginity, Pharaildis was given in marriage against her will, to a noble and rich suitor who treated her brutally, perhaps because she, who had consecrated her virginity to God, preferred to spend the nights in prayer in the Churches of the City rather than in the nuptial bed.
When Pharaildis was widowed, she was still a virgin and dedicated herself to charity.
Pharaildis is often depicted with a loaf or loaves of bread, in memory of one of her miracles, when she turned the loaves, into stone, that a miserly woman had refused to give to a beggar. She is also invoked by mothers concerned about their children’s health and against toothache.
A legend has it that to water thirsty reapers, Pharaildis made a spring gush out, whose waters were considered therapeutic.
The cult of Pharaildis has been documented as early as the eighth century. About the year 754, Agilfrid, Abbot of Saint Bavo’s Abbey, acquired her relics and brought them to Ghent. , where her feast is celebrated today.
Saint of the Day – 16 October – St Hedwig of Andechs (1174-1243) Mother, Widow, High Duchess of Poland, Apostles of orphans, the poor, the sick, founder with her husband of Monasteries, schools and Churches, Administrator, peace-maker, Born in 1174 in Castle Andechs, Bavaria (part of modern Germany) and died on 15 October 1243 at at Trzebnica, Silesia (part of modern Poland). Also known as – Hedwig of Silesia, Hedwig von Andechs, Jadwiga Slaska, Hedvigis, Hedwiges, Avoice.Patronages – against jealousy, brides, duchesses, death of children, difficult marriages, widows, Silesia, Diocese of Görlitz, Germany, Andechs Abbey, Bavaria, Germany, 6 cities. She was Canonised on 26 March 1267 by Pope Clement IV.
An example of all virtues, especially worthy to be imitated, is presented to us today, in the life of St Hedwig. Her father was Berthold, Duke of Carinthia and Count of Meran. Her mother, Agnes, was of equally high birth. She was one of eight children – of her four brothers, two became Bishops, Ekbert of Bamberg and Berthold of Aquileia. Mechtilde became Abbess of Kitzingen and another sister, became the mother of St Elizabeth of Hungary. Already in Hedwig’s childhood it was visible that God had gifted her with a mind far beyond her age. She possessed an innate inclination to all virtues and nothing of what usually delights the young, touched her heart, just as little pleasure did she evince, in later years, in the honours, riches and amusements of the world. Reading and praying were her only enjoyments. All her books were devout works and her prayers were said mostly before an image of the Blessed Virgin, whom she loved and honoured like a worldly mother.
When scarcely twelve years old, she was given in marriage to Henry, Duke of Poland and Silesia. Although married so early in life, her conduct was so sensible and virtuous, that everyone was greatly astonished at it. Among her maxims was this: “The greater one is by birth, the greater one must be in virtue and the more distinguished we are in station, the more we must distinguish ourselves by our conduct, in order to be a bright example to others.” She became the mother of three sons and three daughters, all of whom she educated most piously.
She was a little over twenty, and her husband thirty years of age, when their sixth child was born; after which, desiring to serve God more perfectly, she made a vow before the Bishop, in which her husband joined, to live in future in perpetual continence.
From that hour, Hedwig grew daily more and more perfect in all Christian virtues, occupying every moment left her from the cares she bestowed upon her children, in prayers and deeds of charity. She found especial comfort in assisting at Holy Mass; hence, she was not satisfied with one but went to as many as she could; and the manner in which she conducted herself in Church was a proof of her deep devotion. Towards widows and orphans, her kindness was truly motherly and many of them she fed in her palace, serving them herself, sometimes on bended knees. She frequently visited the sick in the hospitals; encouraged them to be patient and assisted them by rich alms. She never hesitated to wash the feet of the lepers, or to kiss the sores of the sufferers. She persuaded the Duke, her husband, to build a large convent not far from Breslau, for the Cistercian nuns, which she made a home for poor children, who were educated there and afterwards, provided for according to their station. Nothing could be more modest and plain than the garments of the holy Duchess and her example in this respect induced others living at Court to attire themselves with great simplicity. In the midst of the dissipation of the Court, the Saint lived so austere a life, that it was more to be admired than to be followed.
To prove her virtue, God visited her with a great many cares and sorrows. The enemy invaded the dominions of her spouse, who was wounded in a battle and made prisoner. When this news was brought to her, she raised her eyes confidently to heaven, saying: “I hope to see him again soon, well and free.” She herself went to Conrad, the Duke who had imprisoned her husband and spoke so earnestly to him that he restored her husband to liberty. Soon after, Henry became dangerously ill and Hedwig nursing him most faithfully, did everything to make his death happy. To those who pitied her after his death, she said: “We must adore the decrees of the Almighty, not only in days of happiness but also in those of sorrow and bereavement.” Three years later, she lost her first-born son, who was killed in a battle with the Tartars and this sad event found her as submissive to the will of Providence as she had been on the death of her husband.
Soon after the burial of the Duke in 1238, at the Cistercian Monastery of Nuns, Trzebnica Abbey, Hedwig had too followed him into the Convent, which, at her request, he had founded, to be further removed from all temporal vanity and to serve the Lord more peacefully and perfectly. The widow moved into the Convent of Cistercian Nuns which was led by her daughter Gertrude, assuming the position of a lay sister and donning the habit. She observed most strictly the regulations of the Order, desiring to do the meanest work and to be considered the least of the Sisters. In her austerity to herself she had now full liberty. She fasted daily, except on Sundays and festivals but her fasts were much more rigorous than those of others, for she abstained from all meat and wine and partook only of herbs, bread and water. She wore, day and night, rough hair-cloth and an iron girdle which she had already worn while at Court. She went bare-footed over snow and ice and slept, when well, on the bare boards and when ill, on straw covered with a coarse cloth. Her sleep lasted hardly three hours before Matins; the remainder of the night she occupied in prayer, which she only interrupted to scourge herself to blood. So severe a life emaciated her body to a skeleton. While working, she always raised her soul to the Most High by mental prayer,and she was often found in an ecstasy, or raised high above the ground. Her conversation was only of God, virtue and piety. Towards the Crrucified Saviour, she bore the deepest devotion and the mysteries of His bitter Passion and Death were the objects of her daily meditations, during which, she frequently shed tears. Mary, the Blessed Virgin, was most ardently loved by her,and her whole countenance glowed at the bare mention of her holy name.
So holy a life could only be followed by a happy death, of which a severe sickness was the messenger. Before others became aware that her life was in danger, the Saint asked for the last Sacraments and she received them with a devotion which drew tears from the eyes of all who were present. Before her end, S. Catherine of Alexandria, St Thecla, St Ursula and St Magdalen appeared to her, all of whom she had greatly honoured during her life. These heavenly visitors comforted her and accompanied her to the mansions of everlasting bliss.
Twenty-five years after her death, her holy body was exhumed, as so many extraordinary miracles had taken place at her intercession. On opening the coffin, the whole Church was filled with fragrance. The flesh of the whole body was consumed, except that of three fingers on her left hand. With these she had frequently held a picture of the Blessed Virgin, which she constantly carried with her. While dying, she held this picture so fast, that after her death it could not be removed and it was buried with her. Pope Clement IV. placed the Duchess among the Saints on account of her many great virtues, of the miracles which she had wrought while she lived and of those which took place after her death, through her intercession. The inhabitants of Poland venerate her as one of their special Patrons. (By Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876)
Saint of the Day – 30 January – Saint Bathilde (c 626–680) Queen, Regent, Widow and Mother, Religious, Apostle of the poor and of slaves, Social Reformer, pioneer in the abolition of Slavery, founder of Monasteries. Born in c 630 in England and died on 30 January 680 of natural causes. Other forms of her name are Bathilidis, Bathild, Batilda, Bathchilde and Bauteur.Patronage – children, the sick, all bodily illness, widows
An Anglo-Saxon by birth, Bathilde was captured in 641 by Danish raiders and sold to Erchinoald, the Chief Officer of the Palace of Clovis II, King of the Franks. She quickly gained favour, for she had charm, beauty and a graceful and gentle nature. She also won the affection of her fellow-servants, for she would do them many kindnesses such as cleaning their shoes and mending their clothes and her bright and attractive disposition endeared her to them all.
The Officer, impressed by her fine qualities, wished to make her his wife but Bathilde, alarmed at the prospect, both by reason of her modesty and of her humble status, disguised herself in old and ragged clothes and hid herself away among the lower servants of the palace and he, not finding her in her usual place and thinking she had fled, married another woman.
Her next suitor, however, was none other than the King himself, for when she had discarded her old clothes and appeared again in her place, he noticed her grace and beauty and declared his love for her. Thus in 649, the 19-year-old slave girl Bathilde became Queen of France, amidst the applause of the Court and the Kingdom. She bore Clovis three sons – Clotaire III, Childeric II and Theodoric III–all of whom became Kings. On the death of Clovis (c 655-657), she was appointed Regent in the name of her eldest son, who was only five and ruled capably for eight years with Saint Eligius (feast day 1 December) as her Advisor.
She made a wonderful Queen and ruled wisely. Unlike many who rise suddenly to high place and fortune, she never forgot that she had been a slave and did all within her power to relieve those in captivity. We are told that “Queen Bathilde was the holiest and most devout of women; her pious munificence knew no bounds; remembering her own bondage, she set apart vast sums for the redemption of captives.” She helped promote Christianity by supporting the zeal of Saint Owen (feast day, 24 August), Saint Leodegar (feast day 2 October 2) and many other Bishops.
At that time, the poorer inhabitants of France, were often obliged to sell their children as slaves, to meet the crushing taxes imposed upon them. Bathilde reduced this taxation, forbade the purchase of Christian slaves and the sale of French subjects and declared, that any slave who set foot in France, would from that moment be free. Thus, this enlightened women earned the love of her people and was a pioneer in the abolition of slavery.
She also founded many Abbeys, such as Corbie, Saint-Denis and Chelles, which became civilised settlements in wild and remote areas, inhabited only by prowling wolves and other wild beasts. Under her guidance forests and waste land were reclaimed, cornland and pasture took their place and agriculture flourished. She built hospitals and sold her jewellery to supply the needy.
After her children were well established in their respective territories, Childeric IV in Austrasia and Thierry in Burgundy, she returned to her wish for a secluded life and retired to her own Royal Abbey of Chelles, near Paris, where she served the other nuns with humility and obeyed the Abbess like the least of the sisters. On entering the Abbey she laid down the insignia of royalty and desired to be the lowest in rank among the sisters. It was her pleasure to take her position after the novices and to serve the poor and infirm with her own hands. Prayer and manual toil occupied her time, nor did she wish any allusion made to the grandeur of her past position. In this manner she passed fifteen years of retirement. At the beginning of the year 680 she had a presentiment of the approach of death and made religious preparation for it.
She died at the Abbey of Chelles, near Paris, before she had reached her 50th birthday. Death touched her with a gentle hand; as she died, she said she saw a ladder reaching from the Altar to heaven and up this she climbed, in the company of angels.
Bathilde was buried in the Abbey of Chelles and was Canonised by Pope Nicholas I (820-867) Papacy 858-867.
Saint of the Day – 26 January – Saint Paula of Rome (347-404) Widow, Foundress- early Desert Mother, Foundress of the Order of St Jerome (the Hieronymites), life-long friend and associate of St Jerome. Born on 5 May 347 at Rome, Italy and died in 404 at Bethlehem, of natural causes. Also known as Paula the Widow, Paulina, Pauline. Patronages – widows and Co-Patron with St Jerome of the Order of Saint Jerome.
Paula was a member of one of the richest senatorial families which claimed descent from Agamemnon. Paula was the daughter of Blesilla and Rogatus, from the great clan of the Furii Camilli.At the age of 16, Paula was married to the nobleman Toxotius, with whom she had four daughters, Blaesilla, Paulina, Eustochium, and Rufina and a son who was named after his father.
Paula was very virtuous as a married woman and with her husband, they became icons of Rome by their example. However, Paula had her flaws, particularly that of a certain love of worldly life, which was difficult to avoid due to her high social position. Information about Paula’s early life is recorded by Saint Jerome. In his Letter 108, he states that she had led a luxurious life and held a great status. She dressed in silks and had been carried about the city by her eunuch slaves. At first, Paula did not realise this secret tendency of her heart but the death of her husband, which occurred when she was 33 years old, opened her eyes. Through the influence of Saint Marcella and her group, Paula became an enthusiastic member of this semi-monastic group of women. In 382, she met Saint Jerome, who had come to Rome with Saint Epiphanius and Bishop St Paulinus of Antioch.
Blesila, the eldest daughter of Paula, died suddenly, which caused the pious widow immense suffering. Saint Jerome, who had just returned from Bethlehem, wrote her a letter of consolation, but, nevertheless, he rebuked her therein, for the excessive grief she manifested without thinking that her daughter had gone to receive the heavenly prize. Paulina, her second daughter, was married to Pamaquio and died seven years before her mother. Saint Eustochium , her third daughter, was her inseparable companion. Rufina died while still young. Toxotius, at first not a Christian but baptised in 385, married Laeta, daughter of the pagan priest Albinus. Of this marriage was born Paula the Younger, who in eventually joined Eustochium in the Holy Land and in 420 closed the eyes of St Jerome. These are the names which recur frequently in the letters of St Jerome, where they are inseparable from that of Paula.
A year after the death of her husband, Paula pursued a pilgrimage to tour all of the holy sites, travelling with large entourages of both men and women including her daughter Eustochium and Jerome himself. Paula could undertake this voyage, due to her widow status, which left her a significant fortune allowing her exemption from remarriage. Additionally, having had a male heir and two married daughters provided supplementary financial insurance. Her travels are documented by Jerome in his later writing addressed to Eustochium which discusses how Paula participated in the environments they toured. He discusses that Paula exemplified an intimate and emotional connection with the sights, experiencing visual vividness of biblical events at each locale. Concluding her journey, Paula decided to remain in Bethlehem to develop a Monastery and spiritual retreat with Jerome.
Once settled in Bethlehem, Paula and Jerome built a double Monastery including one for Paula and her Nuns and another for Jerome and his Monks. The addition of a roadside hostel was also constructed to serve as an economic source to fund the Monasteries. This development took three years to complete and was primarily sourced by Paula who, during this time of construction, lived at another double Monastery called Mount Olives.
It is in Jerome’s writing’s, in a letter to Eustochium, that provide the most insight on Paula’s life during her years of service at the Monastery. She is noted as maintaining her ascetic devotion through intensive studies of the Old and New Testaments, often under the guidance of Jerome. With this, she also practiced a strict fasting regimen, abstinence and pursued a penitent lifestyle “to preserve a singular attachment to God” as stated by Jerome. While practising this life of isolation, Paula still continued to interact with local clergy and Bishops and maintained devout attention to teaching the nuns under her care. Jerome’s letter from 404, moreover, indicates Saint Paula’s first-hand connection with relics from Christ’s passion, “she was shown the pillar of the church which supports the colonnade and which was stained with the Lord’s blood. He is said to have been tied to it when he was scourged.”
Jerome made explicit in his letter how Paula, through these practices, became a recognised figure in the Christian community. At one point, while travelling to Nitria, she was earnestly received by renowned Monks from Egypt and once her death arrived on 26 January 404, her funeral was noted as having a significant portion of the Palestine population arrive in her honour. A year after her passing, Paula was recognised by the Church as a Saint, with feast day on 26 January.
St Jerome grieved over her death but knowing how innocently she had lived, he was sure she was already in Paradise. “O dear Saint Paula,” he prayed, “help me now by your prayers and do not forget me, who taught you to live for God and Heaven. Your faith and your piety, have already placed you in the bosom of God and I know, He cannot now refuse to hear you. Oh, then, my child, pray, pray for me.”
Paula helped Jerome in his translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. The work was done at her suggestion and she provided the reference works necessary for the undertaking. Being versed in Hebrew, she edited Jerome’s manuscripts. She and her daughter Eustochium copied the work for circulation.
An anecdote told of Jerome, of twelfth-century origin, tells that Roman clergy hostile to Jerome planned to have him expelled from the city by planting a woman’s robe next to his bed. When Jerome awoke in the middle of the night to attend the service of matins, he absentmindedly put on the female robes. He was thus accused of having had a woman in his bed. This story acknowledges, while at the same time discrediting as a malicious slander, Jerome’s relationship with women, such as he is presumed to have had with Paula.
Palladius, a contemporary of Jerome, believed that Paula was hindered by Jerome: “For though she was able to surpass all, having great abilities, he hindered her by his jealousy, having induced her to serve his own plan.”
When Jerome died in early 420, he was buried beneath the north aisle of the Church of the Nativity, near the graves of Paula and Eustochium and tradition tells us that St Paula the Younger attended him in his last hours and when he lost his speech, she made the Sign of the Cross on his lips.
Saint of the Day – 24 January – Blessed Paola Gambara Costa TOSF (1463-1515) a Countess and member of the Third Order of St Francis, Laywoman, mother, widow, apostle of the poor and sick – born on 3 March 1463 in Verola Alghise (modern Verolanuova), Brescia, Duchy of Milan (in modern Lombardy, Italy) and died on 24 January 1515 in Binaco, Duchy of Milan (in modern Lombardy, Italy) of a fever. Patronages – Widows, Married couples, Franciscan tertiaries, difficult marriages, victims of adultery. Additional memorial – 23 January in Brescia.
Paola Gambara Costa was born on 3 March 1463 in Brescia as the first of seven children to the nobles Giampaolo Gambara and Taddea Caterina Martinengo.
In her childhood she delighted in spiritual reading and reflection on the Gospel and harboured an ardent desire to become a nun later in life. But this dream was cut short when her parents decided to arrange her marriage to Count Lodovico Antonio Costa – the Lord of Benasco – and she saw this as the will of God manifesting itself and so complied with the wishes of her parents. The marriage came about after Count Bongiovanni Costa visited her parents and was struck with her virtue and so wanted her as his nephew Lodovico Antonio’s wife. Her decision to become a nun worried the count who sent her to Blessed Angelo Carletti – a Franciscan priest – who persuaded her that marriage was a call from God to embrace a different kind of life still in accordance with Christian values.
The pair married in autumn 1485 and the pair travelled to the small Benasco province for the ensuring celebrations. She endured her new husband’s expensive tastes, seeing it as her role to be faithful to him, even if she did not live the excessively luxurious life herself.
Her confessor around this time was Father Crescenzio Morra from Bene though she later reconnected with Carletti who became her friend and spiritual advisor as well as a confessor. Carletti kept her on the path of virtue and advised her to enrol in the Third Order of Saint Francis, while learning to appreciate the poor and to detest the lavishness of the secular world. She joined in 1491 with the permission of her husband. Gambara often deprived herself of food in order to bring it to the sick and on one occasion took off her shoes and gave it to an old woman who was struggling barefoot through the snow.
In 1488 she gave birth to her sole child Giovanni Francesco and named him in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi. To mark this occasion, she managed to persuade her husband to distribute large amounts of food to the poor of their area.
But her excessive charitable works and almsgiving soon vexed her husband, who reproached her for her conduct and ridiculed her in front of their servants and the servants followed their master’s example and joined in ridiculing their mistress.
Costa soon acquired a mistress – the daughter of the Podestà of Carrù – and he allowed her to live in the castle in 1494 even though Paola resided there. In 1495 her son left for Chieri for his education and Father Carletti died on 11 April 1495. She attended his funeral in Cuneo – he had died at the convent of Sant’Antonio where he had fallen ill.
In 1500 she reunited with her parents and siblings when she returned to her hometown on a brief visit. In 1504 her late husband’s mistress fell ill with abdominal pains and it was Paola who comforted her and forgave her as she died. Also in 1504 her son – now a page – returned to his home.
Her husband later repented and approved her good works and also consented to her wearing the habit of her order in public. Costa became ill in 1504 and she began to tend to him. The two travelled to Cuneo to ask for the intercession of her former confessor Carletti and when her husband was healed, attributed the healing to him – Costa celebrated a banquet in commemoration of this and undertook a pilgrimage to the priest’s grave in thanksgiving with his wife at his side. This conversion was short-lived however, for her husband died not long after in 1504.
On 14 January 1515 she was struck with an extreme fever that caused her great pain and she died on 24 January 1515 in the town of Binasco in Milan after having confessed and received the Eucharist for the final time.
Blessed Paola was buried in a church outside the walls of convent of Rocchetta that she had helped re-build. When the church was destroyed in 1536 during a war between Francis I and Charles V, Paola’s body was re-interred in the nearby castle and later enshrined in a chapel built by the Counts of Costa in the Franciscan monastery of Bene Vagienna.
Her Beatification received formal ratification on 14 August 1845 once Pope Gregory XVI issued a decree that recognised that there existed an enduring and longstanding local ‘cultus’.
Saint of the Day – 4 January – St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) (also known as Mother Seton) Widow and Mother, Religious, Foundress, Teacher, first native-born citizen of the United States to be Canonised on 14 September 1975 by Pope Paul VI. She was born on 28 August 1774 in New York City, New York, USA as Elizabeth Ann Bayley – 4 January 1821 in Emmitsburg, Maryland of natural causes. Patronages – • against in-law problems• against the death of children• against the death of parents• Apostleship of the Sea (two of her sons worked on the sea)• opposition of Church authorities• people ridiculed for their piety• Shreveport, Louisiana, Diocese of• widows. She established the first Catholic girls’ school in the nation in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she also founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.
Mother Seton is one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church. She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity. She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while raising her five children.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a true daughter of the American Revolution, born August 28, 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage, she was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of high society. Reared a staunch Episcopalian, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture and a nightly examination of conscience. Her father, Dr Richard Bayley, did not have much use for churches but was a great humanitarian, teaching his daughter to love and serve others.
The early deaths of her mother in 1777 and her baby sister in 1778 gave Elizabeth a feel for eternity and the temporariness of the pilgrim life on earth . Far from being brooding and sullen, she faced each new “holocaust,” as she put it, with hopeful cheerfulness. At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York and married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton. They had five children before his business failed and he died of tuberculosis. At 30, Elizabeth was widowed, penniless, with five small children to support.
While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth witnessed Catholicity in action through family friends. Three basic points led her to become a Catholic: belief in the Real Presence, devotion to the Blessed Mother and conviction that the Catholic Church led back to the apostles and to Christ. Many of her family and friends rejected her when she became a Catholic in March 1805.
To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore. From the beginning, her group followed the lines of a religious community, which was officially founded in 1809.
The thousand or more letters of Mother Seton reveal the development of her spiritual life from ordinary goodness to heroic sanctity. She suffered great trials of sickness, misunderstanding, the death of loved ones (her husband and two young daughters) and the heartache of a wayward son. She died 4 January 1821 and became the first American-born citizen to be beatified (1963) and then canonised (1975). She is buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Saint of the Day – 16 December – St Adelaide of Italy/Burgundy – Holy Roman Empress, widow, Foundress of monasteries and Apostle of Charity (c 931-999) (c 931 at Burgundy, France – 999 at the monastery of Selta (Seltz), Alsace of natural causes). Patronages – • abuse victims• against in-law problems• brides• empresses• exiles• parenthood• parents of large families• princesses• prisoners• second marriages• step-parents• widows. Attributes – • empress dispensing alms and food to the poor, often beside a ship• escaping from prison in a boat• holding a church• veil. St Adelaide was a Holy Roman Empress by marriage to Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great; she was crowned as the Holy Roman Empress with him by Pope John XII in Rome on 2 February 962. She was regent of the Holy Roman Empire as the guardian of her grandson in 991-995.
St Adelaide was possibly the most prominent European woman of the tenth century through her second marriage to Otto the Great of Germany, the Holy Roman Emperor, Adelaide was regent for some time and later became the foundress of many monasteries of monks and nuns.
The daughter of Rudulph II of Upper Burgundy, Adelaide was married at the age of sixteen to Lothair, who was then king of Italy. A daughter, Emma, was born of this marriage. Lothair was probably poisoned by his successor to the throne, Berengar. As part of Berengar’s attempt to keep his grip on power, he ordered Adelaide to marry his son; she refused, and he imprisoned her in a castle. But soon after the German king, Otto the Great, defeated Berengar and freed Adelaide and proposed marriage, which she accepted. On Christmas Day 951 she married Otto at Pavia. The marriage consolidated his authority in northern Italy and in 962 they were crowned emperor and empress by Pope John XII in Rome. Otto died in 973 and for twenty years Adelaide’s life was a turmoil of family and political troubles. Her daughter-in-law, the Byzantine princess Theophano turned her son Otto II against her. Adelaide had to leave the court and live for a time with her brother in Burgundy. A reconciliation was effected and in 983 just before he died Otto appointed her his viceroy in Italy.
Otto II died the same year and the new emperor, her grandson Otto III, still a minor, was entrusted to the joint regency of his mother and grandmother. Theophano was able once again to oust Adelaide from power and the court. When Theophano died in 991 the regency reverted to Adelaide alone. The bishop of Mainz, St. Willigis, came to her aid.
After Otto came of age in 995, Adelaide was able to devote herself to works of generosity to the poor, to help in evangelising the Slavs and in founding and restoring monasteries and convents. She was especially friendly with the monastery of Cluny, then the centre of a movement for reform and with its abbots St Majolus and St Odilo. The latter wrote a memoir of her, calling her ‘a marvel of beauty and goodness’. When Otto III was old enough, Adelaide retired to the convent of Seltz near Cologne, a house she had built. She never became a nun but she spent the rest of her days there in prayer. Her feast is kept especially in many German dioceses.
Saint of the Day – 17 November – St Elizabeth of Hungary TOSF (1207-1231) Princess, Widow member of the Third Order of the Franciscans, Mother, Apostle of the poor, the sick, the needy.. Also known as St Elizabeth of Thuringia. Born in 1207 at Presburg, Hungary – 1231 at Marburg, Germany of natural causes. Her relics, including her skull wearing a gold crown she had worn in life, are preserved at the convent of Saint Elizabeth in Vienna, Austria. Patronages – hospitals, nurses, bakers, brides, countesses, dying children, exiles, homeless people, lace-makers, widows. all Catholic charities and the Third Order of Saint Francis. She was Canonised on 27 May 1235 by Pope Gregory IX at Perugia, Italy.
Elizabeth was born in 1207. Her father was Alexander II, the King of Hungary. Her marriage was arranged when she was just a child and at age four, she was sent to Thuringia for education and eventual marriage. When she was 14, she married Louis of Thuringia. They loved each other deeply.
Elizabeth went out with loaves of bread to feed those who were poor. Her husband saw her and took hold of her cape to see what she was carrying. What he saw was roses rather than bread! Because of this, she is also known as the patroness of bakers. Louis supported her in all she did to relieve the sufferings of those who were poor or sick. But Louis’s mother, Sophia, his brother and other members of court resented Elizabeth’s generosity. She was taunted and mocked by the royal family but deeply loved by the common people. Louis loved her and defended her. They had three children.
In 1227, after six years of marriage, Louis went to fight in the Crusades. He died on the way. Elizabeth was grief stricken. Her in-laws accused her of mismanaging the finances of the kingdom, forcing her and her children out of the palace. For a while, they found refuge only in barns. Finally, they were taken in by her uncle, the bishop of Bamberg. When her husband’s friends returned from the Crusades, they helped restore her to her rightful place in the palace. Elizabeth increased her service to others. She was 24 when she died.
She was canonised only four years later. Elizabeth is symbolized by a triple crown—for roles as a member of royalty, as a mother, and as a saint, crowned in heaven.
Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Jane Frances de Chantal VHM (1572-1641) – Mother, Widow, Foundress – born on 28 January 1572 at Dijon, Burgundy, France and died on 13 December 1641 at the Visitationist Convent, Moulins, France of natural causes. Her relic sreside at Annecy, Savoy She was Beatified on 21 November 1751 by Pope Benedict XIV and Canonised on 16 July 1767 by Pope Clement XIII. Patronages – against in-law problems, against the death of parents, forgotten people, parents separated from children, widows.
Jane Frances de Chantal was born in Dijon, France, on 28 January 1572, the daughter of the royalist president of the Parliament of Burgundy. Her mother died when Jane was 18 months old. Her father became the main influence on her education. She developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament. She married the Baron de Chantal when she was 21 and then lived in the feudal castle of Bourbilly. Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by an arquebus while out shooting in 1601. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity. Her mother, step mother, sister, first two children and now her husband had died. Chantal gained a reputation as an excellent manager of the estates of her husband, as well as of her difficult father-in-law, while also providing alms and nursing care to needy neighbours.
During Lent in 1604, the pious baroness met Saint Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva who was preaching at the Sainte Chapelle in Dijon. They became close friends and de Sales became her spiritual director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. Later, with his support, and that of her father and brother (the Archbishop of Bourges) and, after providing for her children, Chantal left for Annecy, to start the Congregation of the Visitation. The Congregation of the Visitation was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday, 6 June 1610. The order accepted women who were rejected by other orders because of poor health or age. During its first eight years, the new order also was unusual in its public outreach, in contrast to most female religious who remained cloistered and adopted strict ascetic practices. The usual opposition to women in active ministry arose and Francis de Sales was obliged to make it a cloistered community following the Rule of St Augustine. When people criticised her for accepting women of poor health and old age, Chantal famously said, “What do you want me to do? I like sick people myself, I’m on their side.”
Her reputation for sanctity and sound management resulted in many visits by (and donations from) aristocratic women. The order had 13 houses by the time de Sales died, and 86 before Chantal herself died at the Visitation Convent in Moulins, aged 69. St. Vincent de Paul served as her spiritual director after de Sales’ death. Her favourite devotions involved the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary. Chantal was buried in the Annecy convent next to de Sales. The order had 164 houses by 1767, when she was canonised. Chantal outlived her son (who died fighting Huguenots and English on the Île de Ré during the century’s religious wars) and two of her three daughters but left extensive correspondence. Her granddaughter also became a famous writer, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné.
Saint of the Day – 14 March – St Matilda of Saxony (c 894-968) – Queen, Apostle of Prayer and Almsgiving, Foundress – Patronages – of death of children, disappointing children, falsely accused people, large families, people ridiculed for their piety, queens, second marriages, widows. Medieval chroniclers like Liutprand of Cremona and Thietmar of Merseburg celebrated Matilda for her devotion to prayer and almsgiving. Her first biographer depicted her leaving her husband’s side in the middle of the night and sneaking off to church to pray. St. Matilda founded many religious institutions, including the canonry of Quedlinburg, which became a center of ecclesiastical and secular life in Germany under the rule of the Ottonian dynasty. She also founded the convents of St. Wigbert in Quedlinburg, in Pöhlde, Enger, and Nordhausen, likely the source of at least one of her vitae.
Born in Saxony, Mathilda was the daughter of Thierri, a prince of considerable importance. From an early age, Mathilda demonstrated great piety and love for the Lord and was raised by her pious grandmother, Maud, the abbess of Enford, in the cloister. There, as she grew up, she practiced daily prayer and penance and learned a love of labour and spiritual reading. Mathilda would have been more than content to spend her life dedicated to religious pursuits. However, her father arranged her marriage to Henry, the son of the Duke of Saxony. Within seven years, Henry found himself the King of Germany, and Mathilda, the queen.
King Henry demonstrated through his actions that he was a God-fearing and pious spouse. His equity and courage won him the respect of his subjects and he encouraged and financed Mathilda’s longing to live a life of charitable service to others. While Henry ruled his kingdom, Mathilda devoted herself to penance and spent her days visiting the poor and sick, offering them consolation and comfort. She also founded schools to provide education to all, visited incarcerated prisoners and worked for the conversion of souls. Overall, her life was relatively a simple one, despite her royalty, with her primary focus on daily prayer.
After seventeen years, Henry died of apoplexy, and Mathilda, looking to the Lord, gave up her royal vestments and jewels, laying them on the alter of the Lord. Divesting herself of her title, she stepped aside for her children, with the eldest, Otho, becoming king. Henry became Duke of Bavaria and the youngest, Bruno, the Archbishop of Cologne.
However, all was not smooth prior to the coronation, with Henry contesting his brother’s rightful place as heir. Mathilda, for her part, always partial to Henry, sided with him, her words creating significant discord between the brothers. Eventually, the brothers reconciled, but turned against their mother, stripping her of her dowry,and accusing her publicly of mismanaging the royal funds in service to her charities. Saint Mathilda accepted the punishment gracefully, recognising her sinfulness in siding with one son above another, repenting and offering herself wholly to the Lord in reparation.
The persecution and suffering of Mathilda was long and cruel but she patiently bore this all, until her son reconciled with her. Her dowry restored, Mathilda was allowed to move back into the royal court. However, instead, she chose to live in the Benedictine monastery of Quedlinbourg, using her funds to serve the poor and extend the religious communities in the region dedicated to charity. he founded five monasteries, and built many churches.
Saint Mathilda grew ill and realized that death was upon her. In the presence of her community at the monastery, she made a public confession, donned sackcloth and covered herself with ashes. She further received last sacraments from William, Archbishop of Mayence, her nephew. Her body remains at Quedlinburg, where she is buried beside her husband. She is venerated there today.
Saint of the Day – 9 March – St Frances of Rome Obl.S.B. (1384-1440) Wife, Mother, Mystic, Organiser of charitable services and a Benedictine Oblate who founded a religious community of Oblates, who share a common life without religious vows – Patronages – against plague/epidemics, of automobile drivers (given in 1951), aviators, taxi drivers, death of children, the laity, motorcyclists, motorists, people ridiculed for their piety, Roman housewives, widows, women, Rome, Italy.
Frances was born in 1384 in Rome to a wealthy and aristocratic couple, Paolo Bussa and Iacobella dei Roffredeschi, in the up-and-coming district of Parione and christened in the nearby Church of St Agnes on the famed Piazza Navona. When she was eleven years old, she wanted to be a nun but, at about the age of twelve, her parents forced her to marry Lorenzo Ponziani, commander of the papal troops of Rome and member of an extremely wealthy family. Although the marriage had been arranged, it was a happy one, lasting for forty years, partly because Lorenzo admired his wife and partly because he was frequently away at war.
With her sister-in-law Vannozza, Frances visited the poor and took care of the sick, inspiring other wealthy women of the city to do the same. Soon after her marriage, Frances fell seriously ill. Her husband called a man in who dabbled in magic but Frances drove him away and later recounted to Vannozza that St Alexis had appeared to her and cured her.
When her mother-in-law died, Frances became mistress of the household. During a time of flood and famine, she turned part of the family’s country estate into a hospital and distributed food and clothing to the poor. According to one account, her father-in-law was so angry that he took away from her the keys to the supply rooms but gave them back when he saw that the corn bin and wine barrel were replenished after Frances finished praying.
During the wars between the pope in Rome and various anti-popes in the Western Schism of the Church, Lorenzo served the former. According to one story, their son, Battista, was to be delivered as a hostage to the commander of the Neapolitan troops. Obeying this order on the command of her spiritual director, Frances brought the boy to the Campidoglio. On the way, she stopped in the Church of the Aracoeli located there and entrusted the life of her son to the Blessed Mother. When they arrived at the appointed site, the soldiers went to put her son on a horse to transport him off to captivity. The horse, however, refused to move, despite heavy whipping. The superstitious soldiers saw the hand of God in this and returned the boy to his mother.
During a period of forced exile, much of Lorenzo’s property and possessions were destroyed. In the course of one occupation of Rome by Neapolitan forces in the early part of the century, he was wounded so severely that he never fully recovered. Frances nursed him throughout the rest of his life.
Frances experienced other sorrows in the course of her marriage with Lorenzo Ponziani. They lost two children to the plague. Chaos ruled the city in that period of neglect by the pope and the ongoing warfare between him and the various forces competing for power on the Italian peninsula devastated the city. The city of Rome was largely in ruins—wolves were known to enter the streets. Frances again opened her home as a hospital and drove her wagon through the countryside to collect wood for fire and herbs for medicine. It is said she had the gift of healing, and more than sixty cases were attested to during the Canonisation proceedings.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “With her husband’s consent St Frances practised continence and advanced in a life of contemplation.
Her visions often assumed the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages. She had the gift of miracles and ecstasy, as well as the bodily vision of her guardian angel, had revelations concerning Purgatory and Hell and foretold the ending of the Western Schism. She could read the secrets of consciences and detect plots of diabolical origin. She was remarkable for her humility and detachment, her obedience and patience”.
On August 15, 1425, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, she founded the Olivetan Oblates of Mary, a confraternity of pious women, under the authority of the Olivetan monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria Nova in Rome but neither cloistered nor bound by formal vows, so they could follow her pattern of combining a life of prayer with answering the needs of their society.
In March 1433, she founded a monastery at Tor de’ Specchi, near the Campidoglio, in order to allow for a common life by those members of the confraternity who felt so called. This monastery remains the only house of the Institute. On 4 July of that same year, they received the approval of Pope Eugene IV as a religious congregation of oblates with private religious vows. The community later became known simply as the Oblates of St. Frances of Rome.
Frances herself remained in her own home, nursing her husband for the last seven years of his life from wounds he had received in battle. When he died in 1436, she moved into the monastery and became the superior. She died in 1440 and was buried in Santa Maria Nova.
On 9 May 1608, she was Canonised by Pope Paul V and in the following decades a diligent search was made for her remains, which had been hidden due to the troubled times in which she lived. Her body was found incorrupt some months after her death. Her grave was identified on 2 April 1638, (but this time only the bones remained) and her remains were reburied in the Church of Santa Maria Nova on 9 March 1649, which since then has been her feast day. Again, in 1869, her body was exhumed and has since then been displayed in a glass coffin for the veneration of the faithful. The Church of Santa Maria Nova is now usually referred to 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 travelled, keeping her safe from hazards. Within the Benedictine Order, she is also honoured as a patron saint of all oblates.
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