Blog Template Theology of the Body: St. Frances of Rome

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

St. Frances of Rome

This Roman noblewoman gave birth to at least three children before her husband's untimely death; she was known for her patient perseverence through suffering, her piety as a Benedictine oblate who influenced many other matrons, and her visionary gift of prophecy.

My husband and I stumbled across this great married saint on a recent trip to Rome, while re-visiting the Roman Forum on a hot Sunday afternoon. The church that is dedicated to Santa Francesca stands in and over the ruins of the ancient Roman temple of Venus.

One sees this kind of transition all over Rome, particularly in the Forum; the ruined temples of pagan worship have been consecrated to become places for the adoration of the one God, commemorative of His graces in the lives of some of His greatest servants. When I look at these old ruins, I like to think that their original function had not been merely replaced by another; rather, their purpose of serving as a place for divine worship was only truly fulfilled when the baptized erected their crosses, consecrated their altars, and dedicated temples like that of Venus, and her one-sided description of human love, to the memory of women who loved in as many dimensions as did St. Frances.

It's a way of thinking about the entirety of our lives too, especially our lives as secular laity. Our mundane tasks are not replaced, displaced, or subsumed by our worship of God; rather, they are fulfilled by it. And it works the other way around too. Our prayers and our offerings at Mass, and our solemn invocations cannot become whole and pleasing unless they are woven through our trips to the bank, our quibbles with our colleagues, our plans for dinner- and all this because we are not the only ones who need sanctifying by the grace and presence of God; through us, the whole world needs it too, and it is our job to bring that sanctification to bear... at the bank, among our colleagues, on our way to dinner.

We have heard it so many times, and I think that the best way to put it comes from a message of Fr. Benedict Groeschel's, which I overheard once (appropriately) in the car, on my way to the grocery store: "not everyone becomes a saint by doing extraordinary things. Before each and every one of us, at each moment, is a good thing to do. That is your path to sainthood."
St. Frances, pray for us.