Franciscan Spirit Blog

In Praise of Mothers and Grandmothers

Pope Francis was raised by two spirited women: his mother Regina and his grandmother Rosa who lived around the corner from his childhood home in Buenos Aires. His love and appreciation for mothers and grandmothers are evident in his speeches. Here are a few colorful quotes and anecdotes.


Listen to Your Mother

Every human person owes his or her life to a mother, and almost always owes much of what follows in life to her; both in human and in spiritual formation. Yet, despite being highly lauded from a symbolic point of view — many poems, many beautiful things are said poetically of her — the mother is rarely listened to or helped in daily life. She is rarely considered central to society in her role. Rather,  the readiness of mothers to make sacrifices for their children often is taken advantage of so as to “save” on social spending….

Perhaps mothers, ready to sacrifice so much for their children and often for others as well, ought to be listened to more. We should understand more about their daily struggle to be efficient at work and attentive and affectionate in the family….

A mother with her children always has problems, always work. I remember there were five of us children at home, and while one was doing one thing, the other wanted to do another, and our poor mama went back and forth from one to another, but she was happy. She gave us so much.

— General Audience, January 7, 2015


A Mother’s Love

When a child grows up and becomes an adult, he chooses his own path, assumes responsibility, stands on his own two feet, and does what he likes. At times, he can go off course, and some accident may occur. But a mother has the patience to continue to accompany her children, always and in every situation. It is the force of her love that impels her to follow her children on their way with discretion and tenderness. Even when they go astray, she always finds a way to understand them, to be close, to help.

In my region, we have a saying: that a mother can “dar la cara.” What does this mean? It means that a mother can “put on a brave face” for her children; in other words, she is always compelled to defend them. I am thinking of the mothers who suffer for their children in prison or in difficult situations: they do not question whether or not their children are guilty, they simply keep on loving them. Mothers often suffer humiliation, but they are not afraid, and they never cease to give of themselves.

— General Audience, September 18, 2013


A Round of Applause for Mothers

A society without mothers would be a dehumanized society, for mothers are always, even in the worst moments, witnesses of tenderness, dedication and moral strength. Mothers often pass on the deepest sense of religious practice: in a human being’s life, the value of faith is inscribed in the first prayers, the first acts of devotion learned in childhood. It is a message that believing mothers are able to pass on without much explanation: these explanations come later, but the seed of faith is planted in those early precious moments. Without mothers, not only would there be no new faithful, but the faith would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth….

Dearest mothers, thank you, thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world…for all the mamas present here: Let us salute them with a round of applause!

—General Audience, January 7, 2015


Mothers Are an Antidote to War

Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism. “Individual” means “what cannot be divided.” Mothers, instead, “divide” themselves from the moment they bear a child; they help him grow then they give him to the world. It is they, mothers, who most hate war, which kills their children. Many times I have thought of those mothers who receive the letter: “I inform you that your son has fallen in defense of his homeland….” The poor women! How mothers suffer!

—General Audience, January 7, 2015


My Grandmother’s Lessons

I had the great blessing of growing up in a family in which faith was lived in a simple, practical way. However it was my paternal grandmother in particular who influenced my journey of faith. She was a woman who talked to us about Jesus, who taught us the catechism. I always remember that on the evening of Good Friday she would take us to the candle-light procession, and at the end of this procession “the dead Christ” would arrive. Our grandmother would make us children kneel down, and she would say to us: “Look, he is dead, but tomorrow he will rise!”

This was how I received my first Christian proclamation, from this very woman, from my grandmother! This is really beautiful! The first proclamation at home, in the family! And this makes me think of the love of so many mothers and grandmothers in the transmission of faith.

—Address in St. Peter’s Square, May 18, 2013



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