Saint Frances of Rome was born in 1384. Her parents were wealthy, but they taught Frances to be concerned about people and to live a good Christian life. She was an intelligent little girl. Frances informed her parents when she was eleven that she had made up her mind to be a nun. Her parents encouraged her to think of marriage instead. As was the custom, they selected a good young man to be Frances’ husband. The bride was just thirteen.
Frances and her husband, Lorenzo Ponziano, fell in love with each other. Even though their marriage was arranged, they were happily married for forty years. Lorenzo admired his wife and his sister-in-law, Vannozza. Both women prayed every day and performed penances for Jesus’ Church, which had many trials at that time. Frances and Vannozza also visited the poor. They took care of the sick They brought food and firewood to people who needed it. Other wealthy women were inspired by their example to do more with their lives too. All the while, Frances became more and more prayerful. She really grew close to Jesus and Mary in her everyday life.
Frances and Lorenzo were compassionate people. They knew what it was like to suffer. They lost two of their three children from the plague. This made them even more sensitive to the needs to the poor. During the wars between the legitimate pope and the anti-popes, Lorenzo led the armies that defended the true pope. While he was away at battle, his enemies destroyed his property and possessions. Even then, Frances cleaned up a part of the family villa that had been wrecked and used it for a hospital. As hard as things were for her family, the people out on the street were in greater need. Lorenzo was wounded and came home to be nursed back to health by his loving wife. He died in 1436. Frances spent the remaining four years of her life in the religious congregations she helped to start.
Saint Frances of Rome died on March 9, 1440. She was declared a saint by Pope Paul V in 1608.
Frances truly loved Jesus and his Church. She knew that the best way to show that love was to pray for the Church. Other ways were to take good care of her family and to look after the interest of the poor. We, too, can ask Saint Frances to help us know how to show our love for Jesus and his Church.