This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, March 9, 2012

March 9 -- Feast of Saint Francesca of Rome

 How does a fifteenth century saint become the patron of automobile drivers?  Moreover, why are Saint Christopher and plastic Jesus on all the dashboards when Francesca is the patron of drivers? 

That bright horizontal thing above the altar is the relic of Frances
Francesca, born to an aristocratic Roman family in 1384, had a strong calling to the religious life.  Her dad, however, insisted that she accept the marriage he arranged.  Around age twelve or thirteen, she married Lorenzo Pozziani, a very wealthy Roman gentleman and commander of the Papal Troops.  Yeah, that must have been nice for her. 

She accepted the wisdom of the day, which said that a wife is bound to leave her devotions at the altar and to find God in her household work.  She had three kids and was a dutiful wife to Lorenzo (who apparently did not object to her piety).  Two of her children died of the plague and the third, Battista, was appointed to be a hostage in Naples.  Francesca took her son to the appointed handover site, but stopped at a chapel along the way to entrust his life to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  When Battista was surrendered to the Neapolitans and mounted up to travel with them, his horse refused to move.  They beat the poor beast mercilessly, but it would not take a step.  Recognizing an act of God when they saw one, they handed Battista back to his mom and continued on their way.

Headlamp Angel
As Lorenzo got older (and remember the head start he had on her), her religious dedication became more pronounced.  An angel served as her personal spiritual guide.  She had mystical visions.  Yet she was also very practical, serving the poor and suffering in Rome.  During the plague especially, she sacrificed much to alleviate suffering.  She sold her jewelry to pay for the aid she offered.  And she opened a monastery for Oblates, non-ordained people who take annual oaths for monastic service.  Following the death of her husband, she moved into this monastery and led it until her death. 

And the thing about drivers?  Apparently when she went out at night, her angel would guide her steps with something very much like a headlamp.  Meh, there are worse patronage assignments, and since Saint Christopher was pulled from the canon in 1969, Roman Catholics may want to think about finding a Dashboard Frances. 

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