August or September?
When exactly did Frances arrive in Rome? Unfortunately, we do not know… The beginnings of the Congregation have few reliable archival sources. As Maria Winowska, author of one of Frances’ biographies, writes, “between 1872 and 1882 there is a peculiar silence and darkness.” S. Augustyna Pietrzykowska, citing the words of the Foundress herself, writes that Frances arrived in Rome on August 14, 1873. Others that only in mid-September. But this is probably not so important. Most importantly, she came. For the first time to Rome and for the first time abroad on her own ( no longer young Ms. Nęcińska left her rather quickly, probably because of the climate). She is less than 31 years old. Not so long ago she was on the verge of life and death in her family home in Żdżary, Mazovia.
Almost from her childhood, Frances wanted to dedicate herself to God, but she waited for a sign. It came through the mediation of the Capuchins: Fr. Leander Lendzian, her spiritual director, and Br. Stefan Rembiszewski. In March 1873 she heard that Jesus loved her, that it was God’s will for her to become a nun. Moreover, she is to be a foundress of a new congregation… After professing her religious vows on July 2, 1873 in the hands of Fr. Lendzian, she and her mother join the community of Tertiaries in Lublin, penitents of Fr. Leander, who would be the beginnings of a new religious family living in imitation of Mary in the House of Nazareth. Only a few weeks later, she decides to go to Rome. Why?
The answer in the next episode…
Siedliski Manor in Żdżary, watercolor by K. Miller, 1878
Frances Siedliska in 1873 – a photo with an annotation on the reverse side
Fr. Leander Lendzian, Capuchin (1817 – 1890), posthumous photo
Br. Stefan Rembiszewski, Capuchin (1844 – 1921)