The order of prayer
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.
This painting given here for today’s lectio is attributed to Antonio del Massaro da Viterbo, depicts Saint Frances of Rome (1384-1440) being clothed by the Mary in the white veil of her Benedictine movement that, even today, characterizes the Olivetan Benedictine Oblates of Mary she founded in 1425.
Mary, Mother of God wears a mantle of gold, which Saint Paul at the left wraps around Frances Romana. The presence of certain saints is instructive: the great evangelizer, Saint Paul, Saint Mary Magdalene (the Apostle to the Apostles and dressed in red) and Saint Benedict, the Father of Western Monastic Life, with the various ranks of angels, including Francesca’s Guardian Angel. Magdalene and Benedict wrap/invest the mantle on the gathered Oblates.
The angel below the Gothic windows is busy carding golden threads with a warp and loom. Nearby are two frisky dogs and two cats, a frequent sight in Rome. The Oblate Congregation, commonly thought to be woven together by heavenly graces and harassed by evil spirits. The evil one is given flesh in the form of cats and dogs. As a testimony of grace the Oblates flourish today at Tor de’Specchi. Several years ago I had the privilege with many others to pray in this monastery opened to the public only Saint Frances’ feast day.
I have longed hoped that the Oblates of Saint Frances of Rome would found a house in the USA. We are ready for this witness.
Saint Peter Damian is most known as the 11th century-Ravenna-born-monk and author. Peter was, in fact, a hermit. He was keen on the rights of the Church but also with the personal renewal and reform (i.e., conversion) as being an authentic witness to the gospel. The the primacy of discipleship with Christ as Lord and Savior was key. He was a Doctor of the Church.
In 2007, Pope Benedict dedicated a letter to the religious superior of the Monastery of San Gregorio al Celio, Father Guido Gargano on the 1000th anniversary of Saint Peter Damian’s birth. Read it here.
With Pope Benedict’s impending renouncing of the Peterine ministry, one can’t help but thinking that Saint Peter Damian is a personal model for Benedict’s forthcoming monastic retreat.
With the Church we pray,
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may so follow the teaching and example of the Bishop Saint Peter Damian, that, putting nothing before Christ and always ardent in the service of your Church, we may be led to the joys of eternal light.