VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Having left Rome Town Hall, the Pope travelled by car to the nearby convent of the Oblate Sisters of Santa Francesca Romana. There, having paused in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and venerated the saint's body, he pronounced a brief address.
"I am", he said, "particularly grateful to the Lord to be able to pay homage to this 'most Roman of saints'", who was canonised on 29 May 1608 and whose feast day falls today.
"Contemplation and action, prayer and the service of charity, the monastic ideal and social commitment: all these things have found here a 'workshop' that has brought abundant fruit, in close union with the Olivetan Brothers of Santa Maria Nova".
After highlighting how the convent is "located at the heart of the city", Benedict XVI told his audience: "Your community, along with all other communities of contemplative life, is called to be a kind of spiritual 'lung' of society, so that all the activities and all the activism of a city may not lack spiritual 'breath': the reference to God and His plan of salvation".
"Also in our own time, Rome has need of women" like Santa Francesca Romana, he said. Women "entirely dedicated to God and entirely dedicated to others; women capable of prayer and of generous and discreet service; women who know how to obey pastors but also to support and stimulate them with suggestions that arise from their intimacy with Christ and from direct experience in the field of charity, assistance to the sick, the marginalised and young people in difficulties. This is the gift of maternity which is an inseparable part of religious oblation, following the model of Mary Most Holy".
Having concluded his address, the Pope greeted the fifteen nuns of the community before leaving the convent and returning to the Vatican.
BXVI-VISIT/SANTA FRANCESCA ROMANA/ROME VIS 20090309 (320)