In the most troubled of times, God raises up saints as exemplars and intercessors, and Frances of Rome is no exception. Born into privilege in 1384, she lived through tumultuous times, with Rome ravaged by the effects of the ‘Great Western Schism’, which had begun in 1378, with eventually three rival claimants to the papacy, none of them providing a particularly edifying example. Frances wanted to give her life to God, but was ordered at the age of twelve – the custom back then – to marry, and was given to the wealthy Lorenzo di Ponziani, the commander of the papal troops. The marriage proved a happy one, even if Frances’ liberal, one might say excessive from a worldly view, almsgiving and care for the poor caused some consternation, the miraculous replenishing of the supplies alleviated the anxieties of the Ponziani clan.
Frances raised her children well, and cared for her husband until his death, after he was invalided in a battle. Before that, they had agreed to practice continence, and Frances’ charitable and prayer life deepened immeasurably, recounting visions of saints, her guardian angel, purgatory, hell, foretelling both the end of the schism and her own death. She was, as her biography attests, renowned for her patience, humility and obedience. Frances founded a community of pious women, the Benedictine Oblate Congregation of Tor di Specchi, and died on this day in 1440, after a life given to God in an age when so many were scandalized by so many bad examples in the Church. A lesson for our times, as all the saints are, really.
And, speaking of our times, Ireland – yes Saint Patrick’s beloved Emerald Isle – is in increasingly rough shape, as John Waters has pointed out more than once, most recently commenting on the decree from the nation’s Taosieach, Leo Varadkar, an open homosexual inimical to religion, that all crucifixes be removed from hospitals – including those run by religious orders. What is being imposed is, as he puts it, is not a vague ‘tolerance’, itself an anti-virtue, but rather a despairing nihilism, an enforced secularism, a prelude, to this author’s mind, to be quite blunt, of the ‘secular messianism’ of the Antichrist.
Saint Malachy supposedly prophesied in the eleventh century that Ireland would be inundated by the sea should she ever lose the Faith; but she already is ‘inundated’ by the tide of unbelief, smothering and suppressing all that made Ireland what she was, and still, one might hope, be one day again. As things now stand, that hope is dim, with the legalized and constitutionally-sanctioned murder of the unborn and fake, deviant ‘marriage’; soon, euthanasia and who knows what else. There is that whole question of whether Christ will find Faith once He returns again, one that is quasi-rhetorical, for we know He will; but where, and will He find it in our own souls, regardless of what happens around, and to, us?
But the one who perseveres to the end…