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May 7

St Rose Venerini - May 7

Saint Rose Venerini

Foundress of “Holy Teachers”

(1656 – 1728)

“I find myself so bound to the divine will that neither death nor life is important: I want to live as he wishes and I want to serve him as he likes, and nothing more.

Saint Rose Venerini

Saint’s Life Story

Her Family

Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy on February 9, 1656, to her father, Goffredo, who was a physician, and her mother, Marzia Zampichetti. Her father was a famous Doctor in Italy while her mother was from an ancient family of the city of Viterbo. She had two brothers and a sister: Domenico, Maria Maddalena, and Orazio.  She made a vow to consecrate her life to God at the age of seven.  

Engaged

At age twenty, though, Rosa had questions about her own future. She chose to accept an offer of marriage. Her fiancé, however, died shortly afterhis proposal.

Entered Monastery and Returned Home

In the autumn of that year, Rose entered the Dominican Monastery of St. Catherine, with the prospect of fulfilling her vow.  With her aunt, Sister Anna Cecilia, who was already a member of the Monastery, she learned to listen to God in silence and in meditation.  She only remained in the Monastery for a few months, due to the sudden death of her father.  She went back home to care for her mother.  Then, her brother, Domenico, died at the age of 27.  Two months later, due to grief, her mother also died.  

New Plans for Rose

Although Rose as a child made a vow to become a nun, she was deeply moved by the poverty and ignorance of the young girls of her town. So, she began to think that perhaps it would be better to do something for them than to be in a convent. Rose invited into her house the young girls and women of her neighborhood to pray the rosary together.  Soon she realized that none of them knew how to pray. When Rose began to question them about catechism, all of them remained silent. Rose understood that the women of her time were slaves of ignorance and poverty, destined to the heaviest work, and that no one worried about their well-being. So, she prayed intensely to understand the Will of God. Under the guidance of her Spiritual Director, Rose began to see a higher mission for herself, the urgent need to dedicate herself to the instruction and Christian formation of young women.

Opened A School for Poor Italian Girls

So, on August 30, 1685 with two friends, Rose decided to open a school for the girls of poor families that was approved by her Bishop. Each day a little girl passed by the streets of Viterbo ringing a bell and calling all the girls and young women of the city. Lessons began with prayer, followed by catechesis, female manual work, and learning to read and write well. In a short time, Rose’s school changed appearance and she received petitions from bishops and cardinals to found other schools. The Teachers (“Maestras”) were not religious sisters, but they lived as such and were called Pious Teachers (“Maestras Pias”). In Rome, they were even called “Holy Teachers”.

Resistance from Clergy

At the beginning, Rose received resistance, mostly from Clergy.  They felt that the teaching of the catechism was their responsibility, not hers.  Also, Rose faced public scrutiny from her boldness, especially being a woman.  She faced all her resistance for the love of God. With her characteristic strength, Rose continued on the path that she had undertaken.  The fruits proved her to be right, that she was doing the will of God.  These same clergy recognized the moral improvement that the work of education among the girls and their mothers had on the community, and their families.  Eventually, her fame went beyond the confines of the Diocese.  

Addition Schools Opened

From 1692 to 1694, Rose opened ten schools in Montefiascone, and the villages surrounding Lake Bolsena.  The Cardinal provided the material means and Rosa made the families aware of the value of education for their daughters, trained the teachers, and organized the schools.  Eventually she entrusted those schools and teachers to the direction of a young woman, Saint Lucia Filippini, with the approval of the Cardinal.  St. Lucia organized the teachers of that diocese as a separate religious congregation known as the Religious Teachers of Filippini.  

After the openings in Viterbo and Montefiascone, other schools were started throughout the region of Lazio. Rose was invited to Rome in 1706 to establish a school, but the attempt was a failure. So, Rose waited six long years before regaining the trust of the authorities. On December 8, 1713, with the help of Abbot Degli Atti, a friend of the Venerini family, Rose was able to open a school in the center of Rome. The group of women she had invited to prayer, who became teachers, was ultimately given the rank of a religious congregation – Venerini Sisters.

Visit by the Pope

On October 24, 1716, the Sisters received a visit by Pope Clement XI, accompanied by 8 Cardinals who wanted to observe her lessons.  The Pope addressed the Sisters, “Signora Rosa, you are doing that which we cannot do.  We thank you very much, because with these schools you will sanctify Rome”.  Rose’s duties as foundress became intense, consisting of travels and hard work, interwoven with joys and sacrifices for the formation of new communities. Wherever a new school was opened, in a short time a moral improvement could be noted in the youth. 

Her Death

At the age of 72, Rose died a saintly death in the community at the Basilica of San Marco in Rome, Italy on May 7, 1728.  At that time, she had opened more than forty schools. The Venerini Sisters came to the United States in 1909, to help the Italian immigrants to the country. They established the first day care centers in many cities of the Northeastern United States.  Now, they serve in Switzerland, India, Brazil, Cameroon, Romanian, Albania, Chile, Venezuela and Nigeria. “Educate to Save” became the motto that urged the Maestre Pie Venerini to continue the Work of the Lord intended by their Foundress and radiate the charism of Saint Rose to the world: to free from ignorance and evil so that the project of God which every person carries within can be visible.

Born:                   February 9, 1656 in Viterbo, Italy

Died:                   May 7, 1728 in Rome, Italy

Beatified:           May 7, 1952 by Pope Pius XII

Canonized:        October 15, 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI

Feast Day:         May 7

Patron Saint:    Exiles; People Rejected By Religious Orders; Viterbo, Italy

Source:

Reflection

It is really hard sometimes to understand what God’s will is for us. In the case of Saint Rose Venerini, she had push back from clergy that felt that the teaching catechism was their responsibility. Saint Rose also had public scrutiny because she was a bold woman trying to educate poor Italian girls. So, even saints, question themselves in the face of hardship – Am I truly doing God’s will? She faced all her resistance for the love of God. With her characteristic strength, Saint Rose continued down on the path that she had undertaken.  The fruits proved her to be right, that she was doing the will of God. From her rocky start, her talents were soon highly sought after as Rose was asked to organize schools all over Italy. 

Have you tried to do something good you thought was for Jesus that was opposed by others? Do give up? Pray for the grace, wisdom and strength to do God’s will.

Prayers

Saint Rose, as a lay women and teacher, you were successful and holy. You were, in fact, a better, more holy, and more effective person as a lay member of the Church than as a nun. May you intercede for us so that no matter what profession we are in or want to work in, that we include God and our faith more fully in all that we do and everyone that we interact with. Saint Rose, you teach us that saints can be found in any profession and in any endeavor.

Saint Rose Venerini, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Saint-teachers to help us with this crazy difficult return to some sort of school

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Rose Venerini – Religious and Teacher

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 7 May – St Rose Venerini (1656-1728)

A Reason2BCatholic – Saints Alive! | Saint Rose Venerini

Catholic Culture – St. Rosa Venerini

Catholic Fire – St. Rose Venerini: Founder of the “Holy Teachers”

Catholic News Agency – St. Rosa Venerini Feast Day: May 07

Catholic Online – St. Rose Venerini

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Rose Venerini

Franciscan Media – Saint Rose Venerini

Newman Ministry – Saint Rose Venerini

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Rose Venerini’s Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Rose Venerini (1656-1728)

uCatholic – Saint Rose Venerini

University of Notre Dame – St. Rose Venerini

Vatican – Rosa Venerini (1656 – 1728)

Wikipedia – Rose Venerini

Video Link