“How in the world did a woman become the patron saint of automobile drivers?” my smart aleck husband teasingly asked.
“The real question,” I replied, ignoring the sexist innuendo, “is how a fifteenth century saint got to be their patroness!”
While doing research for my book Saintly Moms: 25 Stories of Holiness, I was dumbfounded to find that St. Frances of Rome, who lived 1384 to 1440, long before Henry Ford or any other car manufacturer, is given guardianship over automobile drivers. I just had to find out why!
Of the 25 saintly mothers I write about in my book, hers was one of the most interesting and action-packed stories. A pious young lady married to an adoring aristocrat, Frances found a life of fasting and performing charitable works easier that feasting and giving lavish parties.
Frances would often go into town to give food to the poor and visit the sick. It was not uncommon for her to stay out late. Legend has it that when she was traveling alone in the dark, her guardian angel would light the way before her, keeping her protected. Because of her many safe trips on the road, Saint Frances of Rome was declared patron of automobile drivers by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
It is true that Saint Frances could interact with her guardian angel. After her son Giovanni died in the Black Plague, the boy appeared to his mother in a vision. He told her that his sister Agnes would soon join him in heaven. He, then, revealed that God was going to comfort her by sending an archangel for her guardian. Furthermore, Frances would be able to see and talk to him.
Saint Frances and her angel became very close. Not only was he her guardian on the road, but he was a spiritual advisor to her. He guarded her both body and soul.
The role Frances’ angel played in her life is no different than our own guardian angels’. We each have an angel who is very close to us. We may not be able to see or hear our angels, but they are, nonetheless, advising and guarding us. The more we are aware of their presence, the more we will feel them near us.
So, before driving off to take the kids to school or run errands, we ought to pray our Guardian Angel Prayer. Then, ask Saint Frances of Rome to pray for us. With the protection of our angels and the intercession of this mommy saint, we might, quite literally, become holy rollers, which, considering how much running here and there we do, is a good thing!
Today, March 9th, is Saint Frances of Rome’s feast day. If you have a Saintly Moms book, reread her story. If you do not have the book, look up the story of this on-the-road, mommy saint. She has a fascinating story. I am sure, upon reading it, you will develop a devotion to this true wonder woman.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, how good You are to us! You know that we are too weak to make this journey alone. In Your goodness, you have given us so much help. Thank you for spiritual friends – the ones on earth and the ones in heaven, like our guardian angels and patron saints. Through the intercession of Saint Frances of Rome, may we always seek to do Your will. We ask this through our Best Friend, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Guardian Angel Prayer: Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.