Quote/s of the Day – 9 March – St Frances of Rome (1384-1440) Widow
“It is most laudable, in a married woman, to be devout but, she must never forget that she is a home-keeper. And sometimes, she must leave God at the Altar to find Him in her household affairs.”
St Frances of Rome (1384-1440)
“Be ever more convinced that your Guardian Angel is really present, that he is ever at your side. St Frances of Rome always saw him standing before her, his arms clasped at his breast, his eyes uplifted to Heaven but, at the slightest failing, he would cover his face, as if in shame and at times, turn his back to her!”
Saint of the Day – 9 March – St Frances of Rome Obl.S.B. (1384-1440) Widow, Founder, 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.
Saint Frances of Rome, Widow From the Liturgical Year, 1870
Frances, a noble lady of Rome, led a most virtuous life, even in her earliest years. She despised all childish amusements and worldly pleasures, her only delight being solitude and prayer. When eleven years old, she resolved on consecrating her virginity to God and seeking admission into a Monastery. But she humbly yielded to the wishes of her parents and married a young and rich nobleman, by name Lorenzo Ponziani.
As far as it was possible, she observed, in the married state, the austerities of the more perfect life to which she had aspired. She carefully shunned theatrical entertainments, banquets and other such amusements. Her dress was of serge and extremely plain. Whatever time remained after she had fulfilled her domestic duties, was spent in prayer and works of charity. But her zeal was mainly exercised in endeavouring to persuade the ladies of Rome, to shun the world and vanity in dress. It was with a view to this, that she founded, during her husband’s life, the House of Oblates of the Congregation of Monte-Oliveto, under the Rule of St Benedict.
She bore her husband’s banishment, the loss of all her goods and the trouble which befel her whole family, not only with heroic patience but was frequently heard to give thanks, saying with holy Job: “The Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord!”
At the death of her husband, she fled to the aforesaid House of Oblates and there, barefooted, with a rope tied around her neck and prostrate on the ground, she humbly and with many tears, begged admission. Her petition being granted, she, though mother of the whole community, gloried in calling herself everyone’s servant and a worthless woman and a vessel of dishonour. She evinced the contempt she had for herself by her conduct, as well as by her expressions. Thus, when returning from a vineyard in the suburbs, she would go through the city, sometimes carrying faggots on her head, sometimes driving an ass laden with them.
She looked after, and bestowed abundant alms upon the poor. She visited the sick in the hospitals and consoled them, not only with corporal food but with spiritual advice. She was untiring in her endeavours to bring her body into subjection, by watchings, fasting, wearing a hair-shirt and an iron girdle and by frequent disciplines. Her food, which she took but once in the day, consisted of herbs and pulse and her only drink was water. But she would somewhat relent in these corporal austerities, as often as she was requested to do so by her Confessor, whom she obeyed with the utmost exactitude.
Her contemplation of the Divine Mysteries and especially of the Passion, was made with such intense fervour and abundance of tears that she seemed as though she would die with grief. Frequently, too, when she was praying and above all, after Holy Communion, she would remain motionless, with her soul fixed on God and rapt in heavenly contemplation.
The enemy of mankind seeing this, endeavoured to frighten her out of so holy a life, by insults and blows but she feared him not, invariably baffled his attempts and, by the assistance of her Angel Guardian, whose visible presence was granted to her, she gained a glorious victory.
God favoured her with the gift of healing the sick, as also with that of prophecy, whereby she foretold future events and could read the secrets of hearts. More than once, when she was intent on prayer, either in the bed of a torrent, or during a storm of rain, she was not touched by the water. On one occasion, when all the bread they had was scarcely enough to provide a meal for three of the Sisters, she besought our Lord and he multiplied the bread so that after fifteen persons had eaten as much as they needed, there was sufficient left to fill a basket.
At another time, when the Sisters were gathering wood outside the City walls, in the month of January, she amply quenched their thirst by offering them bunches of fresh grapes, which she plucked from a vine and which she had miraculously obtained.
Her virtues and miracles procured for her the greatest veneration from all. Our Lord called her to Himself in the fifty-sixth year of her age and she was Canonised in 1384 by Pope Paul the Fifth.
“Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” …Matthew 18:33
REFLECTION – “What is human mercy like? It makes you concerned for the hardship of the poor. What is divine mercy like? It forgives sinners… In this world God is cold and hungry in all the poor, as He Himself said (Mt 25:40)… What sort of people are we? When God gives, we want to receive, when He asks, we refuse to give? When a poor man is hungry, Christ is in need, as He said Himself: “I was hungry and you gave me no food” (v. 42). Take care not to despise the hardship of the poor, if you would hope, without fear, to have your sins forgiven… What He receives on earth He returns in heaven. I put you this question, dearly beloved – what is it you want, what is it you are looking for, when you come to Church? What indeed if not mercy? Show mercy on earth and you will receive mercy in heaven. A poor man is begging from you and you are begging from God, he asks for a scrap, you ask for eternal life… And so, when you come to Church, give whatever alms you can to the poo,r in accordance with your means.” – St Caesarius of Arles (470-543) Sermon 25
PRAYER – Infinite Lord, help me to serve You always in accord with Your holy will. Show us how to make You our Lord and our All. St Frances of Rome, you showed us all the way of holiness within the confines of our lives, always seeking to do the will of God and serve all His children, most especially those in need but remaining always true to the vows of your marriage. Please pray for us all, amen.
Notre-Dame de Savigny /Our Lady of Savigny, France (1112) – 9 March:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Foundation of Savigny, in the Diocese of Avranches, in Normandy, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, about the year 1112, by the blessed Vitalis, hermit, who was its first Abbot.” About the year 1112, in the Diocese of Avranches, the Blessed Vitalis (Vital de Mortain) established the foundation of the Abbey of Savigny (Abbaye de Savigny) in honour of the Blessed Mother. This day commemorates the event. The Abbey was founded near the village of Savigny-le-Vieux in the north of France and Blessed Vitalis became the first Abbot. It was initially Benedictine but soon was given over to Cistercian Monks. Within only thirty years it had over thirty daughter houses. Initially, Vitalis had gone into the forest of Savigny to become a hermit. His fame for sanctity, however, drew disciples to him. These disciples needed shelter from the elements and soon Vitalis found those crude structures had become a kind of Monastery requiring a rule of life. When the Lord of Fougeres granted the land to Vital, the Monastery was founded, and the hermit became the reluctant Abbot. In 1119 Pope Celestine II took the Abbey under his protection. Serlo, also known as Serlon, was the third Abbot of Savigny. During his period of office, one of the monks was known to have a deep and tender devotion to the Blessed Mother and while he was saying Mass in honour of Our Lady, he beheld the Virgin’s hand making the Sign of the Cross over the Chalice at the consecration of the wine. At the same time, a deliciously sweet odour surrounded the Monk. Thereafter, as often as he recalled this, he was refreshed by the sweetness of the scent which had encompassed him at the time. Mary’s presence was frequently experienced at this Shrine, particularly during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and numerous miracles were wrought, prayers answered and graces bestowed for the asking. During the 16th century the Abbey was pillaged and burned by Calvinists but it was not until the French Revolution that the Abbey was reduced to a pile of ruins.
Unlike the Abbey, the Church Our Lady of Savigny, still stands. According to an inscription on one of the capitals in the choir, the Church was dedicated to our Lady in 1128 and it is believed, that there is no Church in the district, that is older. It was restored in the year 1869 and serves the surrounding areas to this day..
One Minute Reflection – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Today’s Gospel : Luke 5:27-32 – The Calling of Matthew
“Leaving everything behind, the man got up and followed him”...Luke 5:28
REFLECTION – “Th exploiter Levi, changes his ways and becomes Matthew, the Apostle and Evangelist, the bearer of the Good News. His entire life-story proclaims that God is for the wrongdoer, inviting him to change. Paul changed his ways, so did Augustine, so did Jerome. So can you! Ignatius the soldier, becomes Ignatius the saint, the founder of the Jesuits. What will you be? What will you do? For YOU are called too!”…Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil SDB
“Because the healing power of God, knows no infirmity that cannot be healed and this, must give us confidence and open our heart to the Lord, that He may come and heal us.”…Pope Francis – General Audience, 13 April 2016
PRAYER – Come my all-powerful, ever-living God, look with compassion on our frailty and for our protection, stretch out to us Your strong right hand. Grant that by the prayers of Mary, our Mother and all your angels and saints we may change our ways, leave everything behind, proclaim the glory of Your kingdom and come safely home to You. St Catherine of Bologna and St Frances of Rome, pray for us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Blessed Gonzalo de Amarante: reached a very
eminent degree of sanctity by the frequent repetition
of the Holy Name.
The Blessed Giles of Santarem: felt so much
love and delight in saying the Holy Name that he
was raised in the air in ecstasy.
Those who repeat frequently the Name of Jesus
feel a great peace in their souls “that peace which the World cannot give”, which God alone gives, a peace “that surpasses all understanding”.
St Leonard of Portmaurlce: cherished a tender
devotion to the Name of Jesus and in his continual
missions taught the people who thronged to
listen to him the wonders of the Holy Name.
This he did with such love that tears flowed from
his eyes and from the eyes of all who heard him.
He begged them to put a card with this Divine
Name on their doors. This was attended with the
happiest results for many were thus saved from
sickness and disasters of various kinds.
One, unfortunately, was prevented from doing
so as a Jew who was part-owner of the house in
which he lived sternly refused to have the Name
of Jesus placed on the door. His fellow lodger then
decided that he would write it on his windows,
which he accordingly did. Some days after a
fierce fire broke out in the building which destroyed
all the appartments belonging to the Jew while
the rooms belonging to his Christian neighbour in
no wise suffered from the conflagration.
This fact was made public and increased a
hundred fold the faith and trust in the Holy Name
of Our Saviour. In fact the whole city of Ferrajo
was a witness of this extraordinary protection.
St Edmund: had special devotion to the Name
of Jesus which Our Lord Himself taught him.
One day when he was in the country and separated
from his companions a beautiful child stood
by him and asked: “Edmund do you not know me?” Edmund replied that he did not. Then
replied the child: “Look at me and you will see who I am.” Edmund looked as he was bidden
and saw written on the Child’s forehead: “Jesus of Nazareth. King of the Jews” “Know now who I am” said the child “every night make the sign of the cross and say these. words: “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.” “If you do so this prayer will deliver you and all who say it from sudden and unprovided-for deaths.”
Edmund faithfully did as Our Lord told him.
The devil once tried to prevent him and held his
hands so that he could not make the holy sign.
Edmund invoked the Name of Jesus and the devil
fled in terror leaving him unmolested for the
Many people practise this easy devotion and so
save themselves from unhappy deaths. Others
with their forefinger imprint with holy water on
their foreheads the four letters I. N. R. I. to signify
Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judeorum. the words
written by Pilate for the cross of Our Lord. St Alphonsus earnestly recommends both these
St Frances of Rome: enjoyed the extraordinary
privilege of constantly seeing and speaking to her
Angel Guardian. When she pronounced the Name
of Jesus the Angel was radiant with happiness and
bent down in loving adoration.
Sometimes the devil dared to appear to her
seeking to frighten her and do her harm. But
when she pronounced the Holy Name he was filled
with rage and hatred and fled in terror from her
St Jane of Chantal: that most lovable friend
of St. Francis de Sales, had many beautiful devotions
taught her by this holy Doctor who acted
as her spiritual adviser for many years. She so
loved the Name of Jesus that she actually wrote
it with a hot iron on her breast.
Blessed Henry Suso – had done the same with a pointed steel
We may not aspire to this holy daring, we may
with reason lack the courage of inscribing the
Holy Name on our breasts. This needs a special
inspiration from God. But we may follow the
example of another dear St B. Catherine of Racconigi, a daughter of St. Dominic, who repeated
frequently and lovingly the Name of Jesus so
that after her death the Name of Jesus was found
engraved in letters of gold on her heart. We
all can do as she did and thus the Name of Jesus
will be emblazoned on our souls for all Eternity
in sight of the Saints and Angels in Heaven.
St Gemma Galganl: Almost in our own days this
dear girl Saint also had the privilege of frequent
and intimate converse with her Angel Guardian.
Sometimes the Angel and Gemma entered into a
holy contest as to which of them could say more
lovingly the Name of Jesus.
What an amazing lady! St Frances of Rome was an ordinary wife and mother whose love for God and His children knew no bounds and who trusted in God to give her guidance. There was nothing she felt she could not do with God and she let nothing stop her. Looking at her exemplary life of fidelity to God and devotion to her fellow human beings which Frances of Rome was blessed to lead, one cannot help but be reminded of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who loved Jesus Christ in prayer and also in the poor. The life of Frances of Rome calls each of us not only to look deeply for God in prayer but also to carry our devotion to Jesus living in the suffering of our world. Frances shows us that this life need not be restricted to those bound by vows. We need something of her love and her trust and energy and then we too, can accomplish great things!
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God………Psalm 143:10
REFLECTION – “Let us serve God but let us do so according to His will. He will then take the place of everything in our lives. He will be our strength and the reward of our labours.”………St Vincent de Paul
PRAYER – Infinite Lord, help me to serve You always in accord with Your holy will. Show me how to make You my Lord and my All. St Frances of Rome, you showed us all the way of holiness within the confines of our lives, always seeking to do the will of God and serve all His children, most especially those in need but remaining always true to the vows of your marriage. Please pray for us all, amen.
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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