Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saint Rose of Viterbo

At a very early age Rose proved herself to be very different from her contemporaries, what made her so different is her outstanding and obvious holiness in one so young.

What is known of Rose is that she was born around the year 1235 to poor parents and had to earn her living from a very young age, as many children had to do in order to feed themselves and provide a roof over their heads. In the thirteenth century there were no social or welfare services, to help out the poorer families.

Rose was noticeable by her holiness mainly because many had fallen away from the Faith or had become lukewarm this was due also to the fact that Emperor Frederick II was persecuting the Church and its followers. During a time where many people worked from sun up to sun set with little or no breaks in between their work life and their home life many resorted to simple but mindless pleasures to help alleviate the dreariness of their lives. This is why Rose stood out amongst the crowd, unlike the rest of the people Rose remained steadfast and grounded in the Church with a filial love and devotion.

From a young age Rose would pray before the Blessed Sacrament for hours with such love and devotion that many were in awe of this young girls evident holiness while others became annoyed at this girls faithfulness when they had let their own faith fall into lukewarmness. Rose from a young age grasped the fact that in order to gain any joy in life one must receive it from the Divine, for true peace can only come through Christ. This was a lesson that stamped itself into this young girls life as she prayed with zealousness and practiced mortifications upon herself.

The practice of severe penances was normal in the Era that Rose lived, as many holy and devout souls enjoined Christ in His suffering for the love of all mankind. During these difficult years while many suffered from oppression it was Rose who understood that it is God who ennobles all that we do so long as it is done with love and obedience to His Will. So no matter how hard times were or how difficult it was to survive it is God that strengthens the soul to persevere. Rose understood that it is God that gives us the joy we seek and not in a gaining of 'worldly' comforts.

Due to her severe mortifications Rose became ill, and even though friends and family tried to make her become less severe still Rose continued to suffer for the sake of souls. Even from a young age Rose longed to join a Religious Order, her dearest dream did not become a reality, but Rose accepted all as the Will of God deemed it.

It was during one of these severe illnesses that Rose nearly lost her life as consumption consumed her ragged and worn body made weak through her severe penances. When all seemed lost, Rose suddenly leaned up from her bed and exclaimed to those present, "All of you here, why do you not greet the Queen of the world? Do you not see Mary, the August Mother of my God, coming forward? Let us go to meet Her, and prostrate ourselves before Her majesty!" Those gathered at her death bed were astonished as they could not see what Rose herself was seeing that through the intervention of our Blessed Mother, Rose was cured. Our Lady also informed Rose that she would enter the Third Order of the Franciscans, but this would not be welcomed by all as Our Lady informed Rose, "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."

From these words Rose's mission in life became reality as she endeavored to fulfill what our Lady had instructed her. She had a great love for the poor and practiced the corporal works of mercy while instructing and reproving those who had fallen away from the Faith. These were also perilous times as Rose fell foul of the Emperor and with her parents she had to flee her native town of Viterbo. When it came to protecting the Church Rose had the courage of a lioness protecting her young, she was truly fearless in the face of oppression.

There were many miracles attributed to this holy young girl as she lived her Faith with fierce courage and fortitude. It is thought that Rose raised her Aunt from the dead, and when she confronted a sorceress in her region Rose was tied to a burning pyre where the flames did not touch her, many who witnessed this miracle converted back to their Faith.

Though Rose was never to become a Religious Sister, still she served the Church through the Third Order Franciscans.

Due to her many mortifications which may have strengthened her soul it invariably weakened her body. Rose became very ill and died at only 18 years of age, surrounded by her loving family and friends.

Rose of Viterbo died in the year 1251.

Saint Rose of Viterbo was canonized in the year 1457 by Pope Callistus III.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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