O God, who in Saint Frances of Rome, have 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.
This prayer given by the Church calls to mind the fact that Saint Frances was both married and later lived a monastic vocation! This doesn’t happen too often but it shows that it can be done.
Saint Frances is depicted in this picture with an angel resembling her eight-year-old son, Evangelista, who died from the plague. After his death he appeared to her announcing the death of his sister, Agnes.
The trauma of losing one child is great and so imagining the loss of two children would be devasting for a parent but anyone with true humanity. The Lord gave Saint Frances an unusual grace as a result to her faithfulness: that of always seeing her guardian angel. Liturgical scholars will note that the angel is wearing a dalmatic like the deacon at Mass reminding us of the service the angels provide just for the asking. As Pope Benedict mentioned a week ago, the guardian angel is continuously with us, assuring us of the love of Jesus Christ, giving us counsel and providing us with that which is part of the Divine Will. For me and for countless others I think THE grace the guardian angels provide is a guiding light through the darkness of life.
The first intention I am placing before Saint Frances of Rome, the patroness of Benedictine Oblates, is to petition the Lord that the vocation of the Benedictine Oblates be lived with seriousness so that it can be a witness to the Gospel before the world. The second intention is that as Saint Frances had the grace of actually seeing her angel visibly at every moment of every day, so may we come to rely on our guardian angel for living life with the integrity of the Gospel before our eyes.
Two years ago I had the privilege of visiting the monastery of Saint Frances of Rome on her feast day. Notice the lemon trees the nuns care for in the above photo. The visit to the monastery was with my friends Father Mark and Sister Barbara.
Read more on the saint.