Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.
During this pandemic, many people are looking to return to some semblance of normalcy even as we have yet to find a cure for Covid-19. We must pray for the success of these efforts at whatever point our leaders deem them appropriate. As I write this column from New York, the number of cases here seems to have reached a plateau, and by the time of publication, I pray that we are seeing continued success in stopping the spread of this disease. But no matter what happens, we as Catholics must remain committed to strengthening our relationship with God and calling upon our heavenly intercessors for protection and courage.
In one of my recent columns, I spoke about the importance of turning to Mary, and Pope Francis has been talking much about our Blessed Mother as well in the past few months. I encourage everyone to acquaint themselves with the four prayers that he recently wrote for recitation after praying the rosary. During the month of May, which was devoted to Mary, Catholics around the world implored our Blessed Mother’s intercession, and we must continue to turn to Mary so she may draw us close to the heart of Christ.
We must also remember the powerful saints who we can call upon during this time. Saint Francesca of Rome is one such intercessor. An April 22 article in Catholic New York entitled “Saint Francesca of Rome, Pray for Us” by Christopher contributor Garan Santicola details why this 14th century saint may be the perfect intercessor for our time.
Francesca was born in Rome in 1384 into a noble family and eventually married into an even more wealthy and influential family. Despite her status, she wanted nothing more than to live a simple life in service to the poor and destitute people of the city, and she dedicated herself so thoroughly to this cause that, after her death, she came to be known as the “Advocate of Rome.” She was associated with miraculous occurrences both during and after her lifetime and credited with over 60 healings at her canonization proceedings in 1608.
Francesca had survived a plague during her lifetime, although the deadly virus took two of her children. Nearly 50 years after her canonization, another plague swept through Italy, and the people of Rome began to pray for her intercession. Within months, the plague had subsided from the entire country and Rome had avoided the worst of it.
Afterwards, a cardinal, who would later become Pope Clement IX, commissioned Nicolas Poussin, one of the greatest artists in Europe, to commemorate Francesca’s defense of the city with a painting. But that painting vanished a century after its creation and didn’t resurface until 1998 under circumstances that have been called “miraculous.” It now hangs in the Louvre Museum as one of their prized possessions.
I encourage everyone to visit Catholic New York’s website to read the full story and view the image of Poussin’s beautiful painting. And let us remember that our faith is filled with miraculous stories like these in which heroic saints intervene amid trying circumstances and prayers of the faithful are answered. Let us also never cease to call upon the saints to join with the Blessed Mother in interceding for us and to intercede most especially for all doctors, nurses, and service providers as they lay their lives on the line for the common good.
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