Widow and Foundress (1384-1440)
+ Francesca Busssa de’ Leoni was born to an aristocratic family in Rome. She was married at the age of 12 to Lorenzo de’ Ponziani and the couple had three children during their 40 years of marriage.
+ With her sister-in-law, Frances visited the poor and sick and inspired other wealthy women to join in their work. During a period of famine, she turned the family home into a hospital, distributing food and clothing to the poor.
+ In 1425, Frances established the Olivetan Oblates of Mary, a confraternity of pious women associated with the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria Nova in Rome. The women, however, were not cloistered and made no formal vows in order to allow them to more actively serve the needs of the culture. She did, however, establish a monastery for the women in 1433 and the community was approved as a religious congregation with private vows.
+ Following the death of her husband, Frances entered the monastery and served as superior.
+ Known for her special devotion to her guardian angel, Frances of Rome died in 1440 and was canonized in 1608.
“I give you a new commandment; love one another as I have loved you.”—John 13:34
O God, who have given us in Saint Frances of Rome
a singular model of both married and monastic life,
grant us perseverance in your service,
that in every circumstance of life we may see and follow you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.