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Santa Francesca Romana: Rome patron saint of drivers

Santa Francesca Romana monastery opens once a year.

The feast day of the patron saint of motorists, Santa Francesca Romana (1384-1444), is marked in Rome each year on 9 March.

The Roman saint, who is buried in the crypt of the basilica named in her honour at the Roman Forum, is the patron of drivers because - according to legend - her path was always lit by an angel.

Monastero Oblate di S. Francesca Romana

The monastery of S. Francesca Romana, near the Teatro di Marcello, opens its doors specially only once a year: on 9 March. In 2024 this falls on a Saturday.

Pope Benedict XVI praying at Monastero delle Oblate di S. Francesca Romana.


The monastery, located on Via del Teatro di Marcello 32, will be open on Saturday 9 March 2024 from 09.00 to 18.00, with free entry and no booking required.

It will be possible to visit the ancient oratory, the ancient refectory and the cell where Santa Francesca lived.

Basilica di S. Francesca Romana

The eighth-century Basilica di S. Francesca Romana, at the Roman Forum, marks the occasion each year with Masses held throughout the day.

After each Mass it will be possible to visit the crypt where the saint is buried.

Basilica di S. Francesca Romana. Photo: essevu / Shutterstock.com.


Blessing of cars

Until relatively recently motorists in Rome took their cars to be blessed as close as possible to the Basilica di S. Francesca Romana but this practice was stopped due to traffic restrictions on Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Rome's blessing of the cars in times past. Photo Roma Sparita / Osservatore Romano.


The tradition, which began in 1928, once saw hundreds of cars line up in the area around the Colosseum each year.

In recent years a blessing for motorists and a token number of cars - with special permission - takes place on the first Sunday after the feast day.

Blessing of the cars in Rome.


Who was Santa Francesca Romana?

In 1425 noble woman Francesca Bussi de’ Leoni founded the monastery and the Oblate Congregation of Tor de’ Specchi.

She devoted her life to helping Rome’s poor and the sick, until her death in 1440, aged 56.

Francesca Romana was canonised in 1608, and in 1925 Pope Pius XI declared her the patron saint of drivers.

For further details see the Tor de' Specchi website.

General Info

Address Via del Teatro di Marcello, 32, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

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Santa Francesca Romana: Rome patron saint of drivers

Via del Teatro di Marcello, 32, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

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