St. Frances of Rome was different from the rest of her family. Before her marriage at the age of twelve, she had desired to enter religious life. She didn’t like the social, luxuriant life she was expected to lead as a 14th-century noblewoman. She preferred to be quiet and simple, and to go out to the poor with gifts and help.
Frances ministered to the poor from the family’s cellars and granaries, and their great supply gradually dwindled. During famine, plague, and war, the family watched uneasily—and complained unsuccessfully—as Frances gave food, drink, and aid to the poor and diseased.
One can imagine the disgruntled thoughts of her in-laws: “She’s constantly running off to the beggars and riff raff! She’ll catch some dreadful disease and that will be an end of her—if she doesn’t give away every possession we have first.”
Finally, the day came when not a drop of wine was left in the cellar. The barn—everyone was sure—was equally drained. The family bitterly rebuked Frances and her charity.
Frances, however, soothed them. She asked them to trust her and, saying a prayer, went to the wine cellar. There, from the dry keg, she filled a cup for her father-in-law. The wine was the most delicious wine he had ever tasted.
The barn also proved to be full. It was piled up with fat, shining corn that was more luxuriant than any they had seen before.
After this, Frances’s family never complained about her works among the poor again. Instead, they endorsed her acts and allowed her free reign among their possessions.
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