S. Francesca Romana: Rome patron saint of drivers

Monastery of S. Francesca Romana in Rome opens to visitors once a year.

The feast day of the patron saint of motorists, S. 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.

In the past motorists in Rome took their cars to be blessed as close as possible to the eight-century Basilica di S. Francesca Romana but this is no longer possible due to the traffic ban 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.

These days a blessing for a token number of cars - with special permission - normally takes place on the first Sunday after the feast day, which this year is 10 March.

The Monastero Oblate di S. Francesca Romana, near the Teatro di Marcello, opens its doors specially only once a year, on 9 March, from 09.00-11.00 and from 14.30-18.00.

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

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

General Info

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

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S. Francesca Romana: Rome patron saint of drivers

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

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