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March 9

Saint of the day:

Saint Frances of Rome

Patron Saint of Benedictine oblates; automobile drivers; widows.

Saint Frances of Rome’s Story

Frances’ life combines aspects of secular and religious life. A devoted and loving wife, she longed for a lifestyle of prayer and service, so she organized a group of women to minister to the needs of Rome’s poor.

Born of wealthy parents, Frances found herself attracted to the religious life during her youth. But her parents objected and a young nobleman was selected to be her husband.

As she became acquainted with her new relatives, Frances soon discovered that the wife of her husband’s brother also wished to live a life of service and prayer. So the two, Frances and Vannozza, set out together—with their husbands’ blessings—to help the poor.

Frances fell ill for a time, but this apparently only deepened her commitment to the suffering people she met. The years passed, and Frances gave birth to two sons and a daughter. With the new responsibilities of family life, the young mother turned her attention more to the needs of her own household.

The family flourished under Frances’ care, but within a few years a great plague began to sweep across Italy. It struck Rome with devastating cruelty and left Frances’ second son dead. In an effort to help alleviate some of the suffering, Frances used all her money and sold her possessions to buy whatever the sick might possibly need. When all the resources had been exhausted, Frances and Vannozza went door to door begging. Later, Frances’ daughter died, and the saint opened a section of her house as a hospital.

Frances became more and more convinced that this way of life was so necessary for the world, and it was not long before she requested and was given permission to found a society of women bound by no vows. They simply offered themselves to God and to the service of the poor. Once the society was established, Frances chose not to live at the community residence, but rather at home with her husband. She did this for seven years, until her husband passed away, and then came to live the remainder of her life with the society—serving the poorest of the poor.





Santa Francesca Romana

(Saint Frances of Rome)

Piazza di Santa Francesca Romana 4

Rome, Italy

*This church is next to the Roman Forum.

*The remains of St Frances of Rome are in the crypt below the main sanctuary.  Her skeleton is vested in the habit of the Oblate Sisters.

*To the right of the sanctuary is the tomb of Pope Gregory XI (d. 1378). He returned the papal seat to Rome after the exile in Avignon. St Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) was instrumental in persuading him to return. A relief depicting her involvement can be seen on the tomb.

*Two flagstones within the right transept of the church are said to bear the imprints of the knees of St Peter. According to a legend the magician Simon Magus levitated in the Roman Forum to demonstrate that his powers were superior to those of Peter. In response Peter fell to the ground in prayer causing the knee imprints in the stone. Simon Magus then immediately fell to his death.


Spaghetti Alla Carbonara



  • 1 pound dry spaghetti

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  1. Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.")

  3. Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

  5. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat.

  6. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.

  7. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.)

  8. Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency.

  9. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.

  10. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

Saint Frances of Rome
with her guardian angel guiding

her way with his light

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