“It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping”

Frances of Rome is the first Benedictine name I was given when I made my final oblation in 2010. I say first because, two years later, I was given a second name, Gertrude (after St Gertrude the Great). I now have two Benedictine names and the why of that is a story for another day..But, I’ll give you a clue.

It involved a clash with modernism.

From Vultus Christi:

Married Life and Monastic Conversion


Saint Frances of Rome (1384-1440), more properly called by her own name, Francesca, is the patroness of Benedictine Oblates. The Church has us pray:



O God, Who in Saint Frances of Rome, has given us a model of holiness in married life and of monastic conversion, make us serve You perseveringly, so that in all circumstances we may set our gaze upon You and follow You.




It is not often that we mention both married life and monastic conversion in the same Collect! Francesca is there to tell us that it can be done.


Patronness of Rome


I find it extraordinary that the Romans should be so proud of their Francesca, even to the point of considering her their special patron. They can lay claim, after all, to Saints Peter and Paul, to innumerable martyrs and glorious Popes, and yet, with all that spiritual richness, they remain attached to Francesca, a married woman, a servant of the poor, a mother to the sick, a spiritual daughter of Holy Father Benedict, and a mystic.


Enthusiasm for Holiness


Francesca did nothing by half-measures. Being Roman, she lived life with a kind of reckless enthusiasm — not for the usual things Romans get excited over — but for holiness! Her life was extraordinary in some ways. She went in for fasting, austerities, and almsgiving in a huge way. The devil bothered her continually, not as he bothers us with boring, nagging temptations, but with spectacular assaults. Francesca was in the same league as Saint Anthony of Egypt and the CurĂ© d’Ars.


Intensely Alive


For me, Francesca’s appeal is in her warm and very human personality. She was no dried up prune of a saint. She was intensely alive to everything human and capable of the grand passions without which life is bleak and dreary. She suffered struggles, endured sorrows, and bore with every manner of disappointment and hurt. One cannot say that Francesca’s holiness was of the tidy sort. One might even say that Francesca’s life was a mess. Her desire to serve God and live for him was continually frustrated by persons and circumstances. It was precisely in the midst of these conditions that Francesca grew in holiness, “setting nothing before the love of Christ” (RB 4:21), and “never despairing of God’s mercy” (RB 4:74).


A prayer I recently discovered:


Remember O gracious St. Frances,

Never was it known that a poor person or a poor heart,

approached you and went away unaided.

You did not judge the rich in your pity for the poor,

but encouraged them, for the sake of their souls, for the sake of God,

to show mercy to those in need..


Whatever they did for the “least” they did for Jesus,

and in the “least” Jesus made Himself known to you and to them.

The poor loved you, the rich loved you, Jesus loved you,

for you were His face, His hands, His feet to all you met.

To you we come, before you we are, selfish, sinful and sorrowful.


Do not look upon our failures, but upon that tiny part of our hearts

that desires to be the person God created us to be.

Obtain for us, grace from the merciful heart of God,

that we may know Him, love Him, serve Him, as He desires us to.

We bring to you our prayers and needs,

for ourselves and for those in our hearts.


We ask your special intercession for those poor in body,

and also for those poor in soul, and those ignorant of God’s merciful heart.

May God hear and answer our prayers for others

through your intercession, and according to His will,

and may our hearts be changed into mercy lived.



  • Art from fresco in the Chapel of Tor de’ Specchi. Visit the site for more on this beautiful saint.

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