MARCH 9. FRANCES OF ROME, WHOSE guardian ANGEL HAD HEADLIGHTS
Patron saint of automobiles, automobile drivers, against plague, aviators, cab drivers, death of children, motorcyclists, motorists, people ridiculed for their piety, pilots, Roman housewives, widows, women
Lived 1384 to 1440
From her infancy, Frances was not like other children. Frances was so enamored with purity that from a tender age she would not suffer her own father to touch even her hands, unless they were covered. She had an aversion to the amusements of children, preferring solitude and prayer.
"A married woman must, when called upon, quit her devotions to God at the altar to find him in her household affairs."
Frances was married off when she was only 13. She bore six children, five of whom did not survive their own childhoods.
Frances practiced extraordinary mortifications, especially after her husband permitted her to inflict on her body whatever hardships she pleased. She always concealed a hair-shirt and a girdle of horse-hair under the gorgeous silks and rich brocades that her husband lavished her with. If she upset God in the least, she punished the offending body part. Her diet consisted of dry and moldy bread, which she would procure by trading good bread with beggars for their sad, rotten crusts. She drank only water and used a HUMAN SKULL as her cup.
Frances' visions often assumed the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages. She had the gift of miracles and ecstasy, as well as bodily visions of her guardian angel, and had revelations of heaven and hell. She could read people's minds (aka "the secrets of consciences") and detect diabolical plots. "Perhaps throughout the History of the Church no other mystic has had so many descriptive visions of Hell as Frances."
Her first initiation into the supernatural world / contact with the powers of darkness took place when the devil appeared to her "under the aspect of a venerable hermit." As soon as she set her eyes on him, Frances saw through his disguise and ran from the room to pray.
You can read one of the gory visions of Hell in which Frances details the ranks of fallen angels: "the prince and chief of all devils is Lucifer, who is confined to the bottom of the abyss."
On Frances' feast day, priests bless automobiles due to her patronage of cars and drivers. While she never drove a car herself, legend says that when Frances traveled at night, her guardian angel went before her, lighting the road with a headlight-like lantern, steering her to safety.
The first time she saw her guardian angel, Frances was so struck by his splendor that she mistook him for God himself. She threw herself on the ground to adore him. The angel stopped her and explained who he was; that is, he told her he was an angel of low rank in the celestial hierarchy. The point of this story is that even the lowliest angel is so arresting that mere mortals cling to the earth at the sight of them.