Saint 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. She once found the verse of a psalm, at which she had been four times thus interrupted, completed for her in letters of gold. 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. Her son was nine years old when he foretold his father’s death wound and his own coming departure for heaven; and then he returned a year later with an Angel whom she saw clearly. He said he had come for his little five year-old sister, that she might be placed among the Angels with him. He left the Angel with her in exchange, to remain always.
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, and after her husband’s death, Saint Frances founded a Community of Benedictine Oblate nuns. 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 9, 1440.
Reflection. God has appointed for each one of us, to protect us from all evils, a Guardian Angel whose warnings we are bound to heed. Let us listen to his voice here below, and we shall see him hereafter when he leads us before the throne of God.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).