Oil Dedicated to St Frances of Rome (patron for engaged couples)
The St Frances of Rome is dedicated to the Italian 14th century saint. Frances was born in the city of Rome in 1384 to a wealthy, noble family.. She decided at eleven that she knew what God wanted for her — she was going to be a nun.
And that’s where her will ran right up against her father’s. He told Frances she was far too young to know her mind. However, she was not too young to be married. He had already promised her in marriage to the son of another wealthy family.
She stubbornly prayed to God to prevent the marriage until her confessor pointed out, “Are you crying because you want to do God’s will or because you want God to do your will?”
Frances agrees to marry
She gave in to the marriage — reluctantly. Then her nightmare began. This quiet, shy thirteen year old was thrust into the whirl of parties and banquets that accompanied a wedding. Her mother-in-law Cecilia loved to entertain and expected her new daughter-in-law to enjoy the revelry of her social life too.
Frances collapsed from the strain. For months she lay close to death, unable to eat or move or speak.
At her worst, she had a vision of St. Alexis. St Alexis told her God was giving her an important choice: Did she want to recover or not?
It’s hard for us to understand why a thirteen-year-old would want to die but Frances was miserable. Finally, she whispered, “God’s will is mine.” The hardest words she could have said — but the right words to set her on the road to sanctity.
St. Alexis replied, “Then you will live to glorify His Name.” Her recovery was immediate and complete. Lorenzo became even more devoted to her after this — he was even a little in awe of her because of what she’d been through.
Frances and Vannozza
In a house where she lived with her husband, his parents, his brother and his brother’s family, she felt all alone. And that’s why her sister in law,Vannozza found her crying bitterly in the garden one day. When Frances poured out her heart to Vannozza and it turned out that this sister-in-law had wanted to live a life devoted to the Lord too. They became close friends and worked out a program of devout practices and services to work together.
They decided their obligations to their family came first. For Frances that meant dressing up to her rank, making visits and receiving visits — and most importantly doing it gladly. But the two spiritual friends went to mass together, visited prisons, served in hospitals and set up a secret chapel in an abandoned tower of their palace where they prayed together.
The beginning of the fifteenth century brought the birth of her first son, Battista. Also, her mother in law died. Everyone thought that sixteen-year-old Frances was best qualified to take her mother-in-law’s place. Her family was right, she was an excellent administrator and a fair and pleasant employer.
In due course, two more children were born to her. However, a flood brought disease and famine to Rome. Frances gave orders that no one asking for alms would be turned away. She and Vannozza went out to the poor with corn, wine, oil and clothing. Her father-in-law was furious that she was giving away their supplies during a famine. He took the keys of the granary and wine cellar away from her. The two noblewomen went out to the streets to beg instead.
Miraculous replacements/St Frances of Rome healing oil
Finally Frances was so desperate for food to give to the poor she went to the now empty corn loft and sifted through the straw searching for a few leftover kernels of corn. After she left Lorenzo came in and was stunned to find the previously empty granary filled with yellow corn. Frances drew wine out of their one cask until one day her father in law went down and found it empty. Everyone screamed at Frances. After saying a prayer, she led them to cellar, turned the spigot on the empty cask, and out flowed the most wonderful wine. These incidents completely converted Lorenzo and her father-in-law.
Civil war came to Rome. Frances was left alone against the attackers when she sent Lorenzo out of Rome to avoid capture. Drunken invaders broke into her house, tortured and killed the servants, demolished the palace, literally tore it apart and smashed everything. Also,a plague hit — a plague that took the lives of many including Frances’ nine-year-old son Evangelista.
Frances cleared out the wreckage of the house and turned it into a makeshift hospital and a shelter for the homeless.
One year after his death Evangelista came to her in a vision and told her that Agnes was going to die too. In return God was granting her a special grace by sending an archangel to be her guardian angel for the rest of her life. She would always be able to see him. He became a constant companion and spiritual adviser. He once commanded her to stop her severe penances. “You should understand by now,” the angel told her, “that the God who made your body and gave it to your soul as a servant never intended that the spirit should ruin the flesh and return it to him despoiled.”
Finally the wars were over and Battista and her husband returned home.
The Oblates of Mary
With Lorenzo’s support and respect, Frances started a lay order of women attached to the Benedictines called the Oblates of Mary. The women lived in the world but pledged to offer themselves to God and serve the poor. Eventually they bought a house where the widowed members could live in community.
Frances nursed Lorenzo until he died. His last words to her were, “I feel as if my whole life has been one beautiful dream of purest happiness. God has given me so much in your love.” After his death, Frances moved into the house with the other Oblates and was made superior. At 52 she had the life she dreamed of when she was eleven.
Frances died four years later. Her last words were “The angel has finished his task — he beckons me to follow him.”