God did marvelous things in the soul of St. Rose. It appears that her parents
gave her that name by divine inspiration, for it was symbolic of her entire
career. As long as she lived, she bloomed like a sweet-scented rose in the
garden of the Church, and in full bloom as she transplanted to Paradise.
Before she was able to speak, Rose attempted to pronounce the sweet names of
Jesus and Mary; and as soon as she had learned to walk, she asked to be taken
to church and to other retired and quiet places to pray. When religious
discourses were given, she would listen with great attention.
When Rose was only 3 years old, God
showed how pleased He was with her in a most wonderful way. One of her
maternal aunts died. The family were standing around the bier weeping aloud.
Deeply moved by the sorrow of her relatives, little Rose went to the coffin,
raised her eyes to heaven, and prayed silently. Then she placed her little
hand on the body of her deceased aunt and called her by name. The dead woman
immediately opened her eyes and reached out to embrace her little niece, who
had raised her to life again.
The child entertained a great compassion
for the poor; she always tried to save some food to give to the poor. One day
when she left the house with some bread in her apron, she met her father, who
asked her in curt fashion what she was carrying off now. The affrighted child
opened her apron and fragrant roses were found in it.
When she was 7 years old, Rose retired
to a little cell in her father's house. There she spent almost all her time in
contemplation and in practicing rigorous penance. She prayed much for the
conversion of sinners. Meanwhile our dear Lord was preparing her for an
Rose was not yet 10 years old when the
Blessed Mother of God instructed her to join the Third Order of St. Francis.
Shortly after, our Lord appeared to her on the Cross, wearing the crown of
thorns on His head and bleeding profusely from all His wounds. Rose, aghast at
the sight, called out: "O my Lord, who has reduced Thee to this state?" Our
Lord replied, "My love, my deep love for men has done this." "But," asked
Rose, "who has so pierced and torn Thee?" "The sins of men have done it," was
our Lord's answer. "Sin, sin!" cried the saint, and she scourged herself to
make atonement for the sins of the world.
By divine inspiration, Rose then took a
cross in her hand and went up and down the streets and public squares of her
city telling people of the terrible tortures our Lord suffered and of the
heinousness of sin. Every now and then she would emerge from her solitude to
entreat the people to do penance.
The town of Viterbo, which belonged to
the Papal States, had revolted against the authority of the pope. Disregard
for religion and moral degradation were the order of the day. But the sermons
of this little missionary had marvelous results. the people came in crowds to
hear her. The stone on which she stood was seen to rise in the air, and she
was sustained there by a miracle while burning words issued from her lips. The
greater part of the citizenry had already resolved to do penance and to return
to the legitimate papal allegiance when Rose and her parents were repelled by
the civil authorities.
The result was that she now had a wider
field of activity. At Soriano and later at Vitorchiano, her preaching had the
same blessed results. In the latter place, a sorceress had done much harm
among the inhabitants. Fearing that after her departure this woman would undo
the good effected there, Rose was desirous of her conversion. Her initial
efforts failed. Then our saint had an immense pile of wood prepared in the
public square; fire was set to it, and Rose stepped into the fire and mounted
to the top of the pile. She remained untouched for three hours in the midst of
the flames, singing the praises of God. The sorceress now cast herself at
Rose's feet and was sincerely converted.
Meanwhile the rightful,authority of the
pope had been re-established at Viterbo, and Rose could return. She was now 15
years old and anxious to enter the convent of the Poor Clares. As she had no
dowry, she could not be admitted. "Well," said Rose, "you will not receive me
while I am alive, but you will receive me after I am dead." She and several
companions repaired to a secluded dwelling, where they intended to live as a
community. The ecclesiastical authorities, however, did not approve of the
plan, and Rose returned home. She died 2 years later, filled with the joyous
desire of being united with her God.
Two and a half years after her death she
appeared three times to Pope Alexander IV, who was in Viterbo at the time,
told him to have her body removed to the convent of the Poor Clares. When this
was done, her body was found incorrupt; and it has remained in that condition
to this day. Miracles are constantly occurring at her tomb. Pope Callistus III
canonized her in 1457.
ON THE OPERATIONS OF GOD IN MEN
Consider the marvelous operations of God in St. Rose. Entire cities that had
fallen away from God and the Church and about whose conversion the greatest
missionaries might have doubted, were won to a change of heart by means of a
child, and a girl at that. It has often pleased God to reveal His might and
wisdom by means of lowly and unimportant creatures. Thus at Milan in a trying
period, when it seemed impossible to come to a decision regarding the choice
of a bishop, an infant pointed out St. Ambrose as the chosen bishop; and his
life story shows that none could have governed the Church at Milan in a more
excellent manner. "But the foolish things of the world has God chosen, that He
may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world has God chosen, that
He may confound the strong. That no flesh shall glory in his sight. But that
he who glories, may glory in the Lord" (1 Cor 1:27; 29; 31). -- Have you ever
given thought to the fact that it is God who works through human beings?
Consider that the operations of grace which God manifests so extraordinarily
in children are also effective, generally speaking, in adults. At such time
God uses the natural powers and abilities of men in order to effect good. It
is not man, however, who produces the good results, but God Himself. The
Prophet speaks thus to the Lord: "For Thou hast wrought all our works for us"
(Is 26:112). "God gives the increase" (1 Cor 3:7). Whatever good, therefore,
is done by men, we must recognize as the work of God and thank Him for it. In
like manner, we may not ascribe to ourselves the good that we do, nor think
well of ourselves on that account, but we must rather give thanks to God who
has done this good through us. -- Have you done this in the past?
Consider that in spite of the fact that God uses men to accomplish His works
here on earth, He still leaves them free in their acts. If man resists, He
gives him over to his own will. But he who submits himself as a useful
instrument for anything God wants of him is "as the clay in the hands of the
potter, who will fashion it according to his ordering" (Eccli 33:13). He will
be an instrument of much blessing. Thus it was with St. Rose. When God called
her to solitude, she withdrew to her little cell; when He sent her out, she
went into the streets and the market places; when He commissioned her to teach
others, she undertook the work; and when, despite the fact that He had
formerly permitted her to work miracles, He opposed her pious design, she
willingly withdrew. -- How often have we opposed the operation of God's grace,
and instead of doing His holy will, used all our efforts to gain out own ends!
Such a course is more apt to bring us to the curse of God than His blessing,
and guilt instead of merit. May the intercession of St. Rose obtain pardon for
us and her example convert us into more useful tools in the hands of
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst
deign to admit St. Rose to the company of Thy holy virgins, grant, we beseech
Thee, that at her intercession and by her merits we may be cleansed from all
guilt and may be admitted to the eternal presence of Thy majesty. Through
Christ out Lord. Amen.
The Franciscan Book
of Saints, ed. by
Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald