When I was beginning the process of Confirmation, and they told me I had to pick a saint to be my very own patron, I was more than a little intimidated by the task. How in the world was I supposed to pick which one I liked the best? How could I judge them? I felt awful going through the lists and marking names off as if I was some sort of holiness Simon Cowell. However, the Lord guided me to find the perfect role model for me, St. Frances of Rome.
This woman, as beautiful, wonderful and relatable as she is, is not that widely known. A part of me is a little bit saddened by this. A bigger part of me likes that she is less widely known, though, because it means I get to talk about her, and introduce her to so many people! Which, as you probably guessed, is what I am doing now. You’re welcome, by the way, in advance.
Before I really get started, just know, I cannot do her incredible, holy life justice here (if you do want her whole story you can find it here http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=49). However, I do just one to share a few elements of her life that inspire and help me every day.
At the age of eleven, St. Frances knew that her calling in life was to be a nun. However, her wealthy and noble father had other plans for her, and arranged her marriage to a man from an equally influential family in Rome. Frances resisted and fought this, constantly praying that the Lord would prevent this marriage. Her confessor finally pointed out to her that she was praying for God to do her will, not for the desire to do God’s will. And so, after a period of miserably starving and straining herself, nearly to the point of death, she consented to the marriage, and the brand new lifestyle that came with it.
Now, it is key to know that Frances was born at the end of the 1300’s and grew up into the 1400’s, in Rome. As many church history geeks know, this was a time that was more than a little difficult for the Catholic Church. With multiple people claiming to be the pope, Rome became a battleground, and not just one for souls. At one point, St. Frances’s husband, the influential and noble man that he was, had been injured and captured and her oldest son, Battista, was to be taken as ransom for another family member’s life. When her son was taken, she ran immediately to a church and began praying unceasingly. As she was doing this, the kidnappers were trying to make away with her son, but every horse they put him on refused to move, no matter what they did. They had no choice but to set the boy free, and he found his mother in the chapel, praying through her tears.
There is something about these two little elements of St. Frances’s life that gives me hope. Here was a woman who had a stubborn streak wider than my own, and fought God on everything in her life. It took her nearly dying to trust in the Lord once, and even then she needed constant reminders to seek out His will and not her own. Maybe this is what gives me hope though- despite her stubbornness, she let God’s will be done in her. She let God take over her life time and time again, and trusted him to care and provide for her.
St. Frances gave herself and her own desires up, only to discover God’s greater plan for her life. God did eventually grant her request to become a nun, in her own order. But through her marriage, he gave her the resources to help the sick and the poor in ways she never could have in a convent. She converted the souls of her husband’s family, through her love and service, proving that God had better things in mind for her than she could ever have dreamed of!
St. Frances could also have just run off with her son, upon hearing the threat of his kidnapping, but she didn’t. In doing so, she was able to spare her family member's life, and no harm was done to her son. If she, with her headstrong ways can trust the Lord to the point of giving up her own son, then surely I can trust the Lord with my degree plan! Then surely I can let the Lord’s will be done in my daily life!
This woman who fought God on every issue is now someone who the Church holds up as an example for holiness. She is someone who we can point to and say “Look, she overcame her own stubbornness, and the Lord rewarded her for it! What is to stop me from doing the same?” The Lord wants amazing things for us, things we cannot even imagine. He knows who we are, what we need, and who we can become, before we are even born!
If St. Frances, in all her struggles, can become holy through trusting the Lord, then what is to stop each and every one of us from becoming a saint as well?
St. Frances of Rome, help us to see the difference between what we want to do, and what God wants us to do. Help us to discern what comes from our will and what comes from God’s desire. Amen.
Keara King gets excited about the little things in life-like bagels on Friday and swinging on swing sets. She is a sophomore student at SFA, from Flower Mound, Texas. She is a social work major, and her dream is to work with children at St. Jude's.