In his letter on ministry in a digital world, Pope Benedict SVI encouraged priests to use digital media: "Priests are thus challlenged to proclaim the Gospel by empoying the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis." I noted when I began this blog that I wanted it to be dedicated to the teachings of Blessed John Paul II. One of the teachings that this great pope implemented was the universal call to holiness.
One person who fulfilled this calling is today's saint-saint Frances of Rome. She was married, a mother, and a foundress of a religious community.She was one of the greatest mystics of the 15th century. She was born in Rome to a noble family and died there in 1440. I had the privilege of staying at her home in the Trastevere section of Rome in 2001. She married Lorenzo de' ponziani. Among her children we know of Battista, Evangelista, a child of great gifts who died in 1411, and Agnes who died in 1413. She became a member of the oblates attached to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria Nuova; later she became the superior of this group that became known as the Congregation of Tor di Specchi. At the death of her huband in 1436 she became superior. All through her life she was known for her mystical life. She was a miracle worker and was given the gift of seeing her archangel. She is most noted, however, for her charity. She would spare no personal cost in going out to the poor, the sick, and those who were suffering from the plague. She would take their soiled and dirty garments, bring them home, wash them, iron them and even perfume them, such was her charity. She is patronness of widows. What is most strking about her life is that she never let personal tragedies stop her divinely inspired mission. She was the subject of calumny and ridicule but returned goodness and love in exchange for enmity. At the death of her son Evangelista she was given the constant presence of an Archangel to guide and protect her on her way. She predicted her own death, March 9th, and was proclaimed a saint on March 9th by Pope Paul V.
What is so strking about her life is that she allowed the setbacks and crosses (which were many) to become a stepping stone to holiness, rather than a stumbling block. Her life as a mother, a wife, and a superior of a religious community, should teach us that all the pathways of life can become means of great holiness if we are open. She also provides inspiration for those who may have lost a husband, wife, or child. As painful as the loss of a loved one can be, it is not the end of the world. God may, indeed, have other plans in store for such people.
Saint Frances of Rome pray for us!