View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Secular Franciscan Saint: Mary Frances of the Five Wounds

October 6 is the Feast of Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus. She was born Anna Maria Gallo on March 25, 1715, in Naples, Italy into a middle class family. As a child, she began to spend hours in prayer. She worked in the family gold lace weaving business – apparently working long hours – and was mistreated by her father.

When she was 16, the son of a wealthy family wanted to marry her. Her father said yes, but she refused, and her father reportedly beat her with a rope, locked her in her room, and fed her only bread and water. She continued to refuse, and asked permission to declare herself a consecrated virgin and to enter the Franciscan Third Order (Secular Franciscans). With pressure form a priest, and maybe feeling guilty about the way he had been treating her, her father finally agreed. She was received into the order September, 8, 1731, taking the name of "Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus."

Devoted to the Passion of Jesus, whom she considered her heavenly spouse, she is credited with having the stigmata, feeling the pains of the Passion, though apparently she had prayed that she would have no outward signs of the wounds of Christ.

As a consecrated virgin she continued to live at home, and the suffering she experienced due to the stigmata was augmented by mistreatment and at the hands of her father and sisters. She also imposed penances on herself, including strict fasts, hair shirts, and other disciplines.

She reportedly had the gifts of prophesy and miracles.

She died October 6, 1791, and was declared Venerable by Pope Pius VII on May 18, 1803. She was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on November 12, 1843, and canonized by Pope Pius IX on June 29, 1867.


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