1) Fat Tuesday (in case you live under a rock and didn’t know that)
2) Festa della Donna — the day of the Woman — which I refuse to believe is a communist/socialist/feminist day. You can read more about it on my Rome blog from 2008. I doubt I’ll be getting flowers today, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll eat some Nutella instead.
3) The Feast of St Frances of Rome (transferred, Joannie-calendar). I love St Frances of Rome. So I couldn’t bear to see her miss her feast day this year (since it falls tomorrow, on Ash Wednesday). So I shall celebrate her today. Perhaps with the eating of Nutella. (see a theme?)
St. Frances of Rome and I became good friends the first time I studied in Rome, in 2005. I had heard she was the patroness of cab drivers (and all the Roman taxi drivers get their cabs blessed on her feast day). Since we never took cabs (we were poor students), I decided she should be the patroness of bus drivers, too (they need three or four). Every time we were waiting for a bus and it was particularly delayed in arriving, I would pray to St. Frances of Rome, and the next bus would be ours! I’m not even kidding. It got to the point when my friends would ask me why I hadn’t prayed yet, and then I would, and our bus would come.
Well, on March 9th, the transportation drivers decided to strike. This devastated me, because March 9th is the only day they open up St Frances of Rome’s house near the Capitoline Hill. Our professor told me that not all the drivers were striking, so we would still walk down to the bus stop to see if we could make it into the city in our small window of time between classes. I knew it would be tight, though, so if a bus didn’t come quickly, we wouldn’t be able to go. So as we walked to the bus stop, I prayed and prayed.
And our bus came right away.
We didn’t have much time to see her house… we actually only got to see the courtyard, because we wanted to head over to her church (in the Roman Forum) for the big feast day Mass. And when we were finished with Mass, the house was closed for reposo. Seriously, only the Italians would close a place for naptime when it’s only open one day a year.
I was convinced the people sitting in the special seats (covered in red brocade with gold rope) were descendants of hers, and no one can convince me otherwise.
I love St. Frances of Rome. I love the fact that she achieved sanctity by heroically living out her vocation. One day when she was praying the Psalms, her husband and children kept calling her away, needing her for various things. She kept returning to her prayers and reading the same line over and over again. When she returned for the last time, probably tempted to be annoyed at the interruptions, the line had turned to gold, comforting her that she was doing the right thing. That book is in her hands to this day, as her body lay under the main altar of her church. (it’s just her skeleton, wrapped in gauze, wearing little shoes. It’s awesome.)
She also had the grace to see her guardian angel, had mystical experiences, had visions of purgatory and hell, could detect plots of diabolical origin, foretold the end of the Western Schism and her own death.
She’s pretty awesome.
4) The third anniversary of my Mass with Pope Benedict. While I was blessed to attend Mass with him many times in 2008, on March 9th my friends and I attended Mass with him at the church of San Lorenzo in Piscibus, home of the international youth center founded by John Paul II. It has to be one of the smaller churches in Rome, so there were less than two hundred of us there with him. It’s definitely a day I won’t soon forget.
So all of these special days/feasts/anniversaries collide! And then tomorrow we fast.
(it’s funny to think that in 2008, this was the 5th Sunday of Lent. And yet now we’re just beginning.)
Tonight I’ll be celebrating with — what else, but live music, courtesy of l’Angelus. and some nutella.