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Santa Francesca Romana: Rome patron saint of drivers

S. Francesca Romana monastery opens on 9 March for one day only.

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 Teatro di Marcello, opens its doors specially only once a year: on 9 March.

This tradition returns in 2023 after being curtailed in years due to the covid pandemic.

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 Thursday 9 March from 08.30 to 18.00, with free entry.

It will be possible to visit the ancient oratory, the ancient refectory and the cell where Santa Francesca lived, with no booking required.

Basilica di S. Francesca Romana

Mass will be celebrated at the eighth-century Basilica di S. Francesca Romana, at the Roman Forum, at 09.00, 11.00 and 15.30.

Basilica di S. Francesca Romana. Photo: essevu /


A ceremony at 18.30, celebrated by Cardinal Lazzaro, prefect of the Vatican's dicastery for the clergy, will be attended by Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri.

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

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.


In 2023 this will take place in Piazza del Colosseo on Sunday 12 March following 10.30 Mass at the Basilica di S. Francesca Romana.

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 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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