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Franca, Ss.


Two saints of the Middle Ages.

Franca, virgin; fl. 11th century. She was a recluse in her home of Fermo, Italy, before seeking religious vows from the local bishop and entering a convent, possibly San Angelo in Pontano. In her later years she once again retired to her hermitage. The chief source of information on her is an almost contemporary passio composed by an anonymous monk [Analecta Bollandiana (1957) 75:288, 294298].

Feast: Oct. 1.

Franca Visalta of Piacenza, abbess; b. Piacenza, Italy, 1173; d. Plectoli (Pittoli), near Piacenza, April 25, 1218. Her parents were the count of Visalta and his noble wife. Franca was accepted at the benedictine convent of San Siro in Piacenza at the age of seven and received the regular Benedictine habit at the age of 14. She manifested a great love for prayers, fasting, and other austerities. Her care of the sick and love of the poor, with whom she shared her bread, greatly edified her companions. In c. 1198 she was unanimously elected abbess, and she took great interest in religious discipline and strict observance of the rule. After spending 30 years at San Siro, Franca transferred to the cistercian convent at Plectoli and became superior of the new foundation. She died at the age of 43 and was buried at Plectoli. In 1559 her body was removed to the church of St. Franca in Piacenza. Her cult was confirmed by Pope gregory x in 1273.

Feast: April 26.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum April 3:383407. a. manrique, Annales cistercienses, 4 v. (Lyon 162459) v.3, 4. a. g. tononi, Compendio della vita di s. Franca (Piacenza 1892). Cistercienser-Chronik 8 (1896) 95102, 137143, 175182. i. bianchedi, Luci di una stella (Padua 1936). Analecta Bollandiana 56 (1938) 455. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige, 4 v. (Metten 193338) 2:105108.

[m. b. morris]

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