In the Autobiography, written by Frances Siedliska in 1884-87 at the request of Fr. Lechert, we find at least two passages that could provide an answer to this question:
“How I wanted to go to Rome! That was always my fondest dream. When as a child I studied about Rome, I was so impressed and experienced such great pleasure at the very mention of the name that I would look for Rome on the map. The geography lesson about Rome was the one I remembered best. But Daddy refused to take me there, saying jokingly that it would be impossible to make me leave once I got there” (p. 148).
“Jesus had given me a great gift from my childhood on. This was a great love for the Church, the Holy Father, her visible head on earth, and for the Liturgy. I especially loved joining the Church in her official celebrations” (p. 197).
I am always amazed by these Frances’ childhood dreams and desires, to which she was faithful until the end. However, it is not here that the comprehensive answer to our question can be found: why Rome. We find it elsewhere, in a text written 22 years after that event. In the Report to the First General Chapter of the Congregation in Chaville (1895), in the Congregation’s history, which she prepared, the Foundress and the first Superior General of the Nazareth Sisters writes:
“The person chosen by God for this holy undertaking, desiring to have a visible countersign of God’s will, resolved to betake herself at once to Rome in order to present her thoughts to the Holy Father, Pius IX. She was deeply persuaded that were she to obtain the assent and blessing of the Holy Father for the work she wished to undertake, that without doubt, would be a sign of God\s will. If, on the contrary the Pope were to dissuade her, she was already resolved to abandon the plan.”
How important these words are! At the foundation of the Congregation is the will of God expressed by the blessing of the Successor of St. Peter, accepted with faith, humility, but also with full responsibility of the young Foundress.
Picture: The Foundress, Fr. Anthony Lechert and the Sisters gathered at the Congregation’s First General Chapter in Chaville, France, 1895.