Today is the feast day of St. Frances of Rome – not quite as popular, I suppose, as St. Francis of Assisi, but whose story is just as noble. Here is an excerpt from The Voice of the Saints, compiled by Francis W. Johnston, about her life.
Born of nobility, St. Frances of Rome married Lorenzo Ponziano, and together they had three children: John Baptist, Evangelist and Agnes. A model wife, St. Frances balanced her prayer life with her duties at home. She taught that the married woman must often “leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping.” Frances lived during the Great Schism; when Ladislaus of Naples invaded Rome in support of the anti-pope, the Ponziano family suffered greatly for supporting the legitimate Pop. Evangelist died of a pestilence, and a year later he appeared to his mother with an Archangel warning her of Agnes’ approaching death. Frances was consoled by the Archangel, who remained with her, though visible only to her. She ministered to the poor and begged alms for them. She converted part of her family’s home into a hospital, and she eventually received the gift of healing. She founded the Oblates of Mary (later called the Oblates of Tor de’ Specchi) for a group of women. They made no vows but simply pledged to serve God and the poor; when Lorenzo died, Frances joined them. After her death, St. Frances was buried in the Church of Santa Maria Nuova.
Whenever I hear the story of St. Frances, I can’t help but think of my own mom. She’s always lived a simple life; content with being a wife and mother. As I look back, I never thought that would be enough for me. I wanted to see the world and accomplish so much more than “just” being a housewife and mother. Never did I realize the enormous challenge and incomparable satisfaction in this lost vocation.
Those things I thought so menial back then were really signs of an inner strength that I’m sure she wasn’t even aware of at the time. The challenges of married life and motherhood can weaken our resolve and make us want to throw in the “dust cloth”, but that power to persevere comes from a relationship with the One who dwells within us. How else could we push through some of the most difficult of days? To know that unconditional kind of “agape” love is to know the One who first loved us in this way.