September 3, 2017

Saint Rose of Viterbo, Mystic and Miracle Worker

Saint Rose of Viterbo

Feast Day - September 4th

The life of Saint Rose of Viterbo was brief. Much of what we know about her comes from the documents used in her canonization. Born in the spring of 1233 at Viterbo, capital of the patrimony of Saint Peter, she was a remarkably devout girl, completely devoted to God. At that time, the emperor Frederick II was oppressing the Church, and many were faithless to the Holy See. In response, Rose sought Jesus in His tabernacle, listened to pious sermons, contemplated God's love, fasted and prayed. Strict mortifications were her greatest delight.

She is perhaps one of the youngest people ever to be credited with performing a miracle. Several sources testify that she raised her maternal aunt from the dead when she was barely three years old. By the age of seven, Rose’ reputation for sanctity and miraculous aptitudes had spread widely. Her father forbid Rose from making public expressions of her Faith, and she was momentarily consigned to being a recluse, living a life of solitude, prayer and penance in her parent’s home.

At the age of 10, Rose became seriously ill. On the verge of death, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her, commanding her to join the Third Order of Saint Francis, then go out to "reprove, convince, exhort and bring back the erring to the paths of salvation. If your endeavors bring upon you sarcasm and mockery, persecution and labor, you must bear them patiently... Those who assist you will be enriched with all the graces of the Lord." Soon, the future saint was cured.

Rose became a Secular Franciscan tertiary. From that time on, when she was not in seclusion, she was preaching conversion to sinners in the streets of Viterbo. She and her family were exiled from that city fora time, when they took the side of the pope against the then-reigning emperor.  When that monarch died — a death Rose had predicted — they subsequently returned to their hometown.

A number of young girls came to her for instruction at Viterbo, and she taught them the principles of modest prudence and faithful love of God. Rose fell ill again. She died on March 6, 1251, in her father’s home. Not long afterward, she appeared in glory to Pope Alexander IV, and asked him to translate her intact body. He found it fragrant and beautiful, as if still in life. For more than 700 years it has remained supple and unchanged, save for its color, darkened after a fire in the chapel where it reposed. St. Rose is the patron saint of exiles and tertiaries.

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