Feast of St. Frances of Rome

St. Frances of Rome, Feast of

March 9
St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440), also known as Francesca Romana or Frances the Roman, was a model for housewives and widows. In her 40 years of marriage to Lorenzo Ponziano, it is said there was never the slightest dispute or misunderstanding between them. Despite the death of her children, her husband's banishment, and the confiscation of their estates, she continued to nurse the sick, care for the poor, and settle disputes wherever she went.
Eventually she founded a society of women who pledged to offer themselves to God and to serve the poor. Known at first as the Oblates of Mary, they were afterwards called the Oblates of Tor de Specchi, after the building in which they were housed. When she died, St. Frances's body was removed to Santa Maria Nuova in Rome, which is now known as the church of Santa Francesca Romana. She is the patron saint of widows.
St. Frances's feast day is observed on March 9, the date on which she died. Because she is also the patron saint of motorists—although no clear reason for this is given—it is customary for Italian drivers to flock to the Colosseum in Rome for the blessing of their cars. Crowds also visit Tor de Specchi and Casa degli Esercizi Pii (formerly her home, the Palazzo Ponziano), whose rooms are opened to the public on this day.
See also St. Christopher's Day
CONTACTS:
Italian Government Tourist Board
630 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1565
New York, NY 10111
212-245-5618; fax: 212-586-9249
www.italiantourism.com
SOURCES:
OxYear-1999, p. 111
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