Blessed Virgin Rose of Viterbo
Viterbo, 1233/34 – Viterbo, 6 March 1251/52
Founded by well-off family, at 17 she became a tertiary after having had a vision. In this period she made several pilgrimages, an especially difficult penance. While there was intense war between the Guelphs and Ghibellines she was in exile with her family: she returned home after the death of Frederick II, but her life was very short. About her death virtually nothing is known, just that a few years later her body was found intact.
Roman Martyrology: At Viterbo, Blessed Rose, virgin, of the Third Order of St. Francis, who was assiduous in works of charity and concluded her short life early, at only 18.
In 1252 Pope Innocent IV thought her holy, and ordered a canonical process, which never began. Her reputation for holiness grew equally, and Callistus III in 1457 ordered a new process to be carried out, but in the meantime died, and Rose would never be canonized with the usual solemn ritual. But her name was listed among the saints in the Roman Martyrology of 1583. Graduallydevotion to her in churches, chapels and schools spread throughout Italy, as well as in Latin America.
Blessed Rose lived a short life. Her parents were John and Catherine, perhaps farmers in the village of Santa Maria in Poggio. About 16-17 years old, when she was seriously ill, she obtained permission to enter immediately the tertiaries of St. Francis, who follow the rule by living in the family. Healed, she began to walk throughout Viterbo, carrying with her a small cross or a sacred image: praying aloud and urging all to love Jesus and Mary, to have loyalty to the Church. Nobody gave her this assignment. Viterbo meanwhile was involved in a crisis between the Holy See and Emperor Frederick II. Occupied by him in 1240, in 1247 it was “time” he was accepted as sovereign.
Rose began her campaign to strengthen the Catholic faith, against the work of lively groups of religious dissent in the city where the command Ghibellines were, enemies to the emperor and the pope. Spiritual, but linked to the political situation. For this, the mayor sends Rosa and family at home forced the Cimino Soriano. A brief exile, because Frederick II died in 1250 and Viterbo went back to the Church. But no longer was voice of Rose heard in the streets. The young woman died June 6, 1251. Because her family was poor, she was buried in the bare earth at the church of Santa Maria in Poggio. In November, 1252 Pope Innocent IV promoted the first canonical process and had her body buried inside the church. In 1257, Pope Alexander IV ordered it moved to the convent of Poor Clares.
Rosa’s death is commemorated March 6. But the most famous festivals in her honor are those in September, in remembrance of the transfer of her body to the shrine dedicated to her. Known is the transport of the “machine” to the streets: it is a sort of tower of wood and canvas, renewed annually, with the statue of the saint, brought back by 62 men. In 1998, at the initiative of Count Mario Fani, who 130 years ago, the Circle Santa Rosa, Viterbo anticipated the Society of Catholic Youth, sponsored by Catholics and then with Giovanni Bologna Acquaderni. In 1922, Benedict XV proclaimed Rosa patrona Female Youth of Catholic Action.
At Viterbo, where she is patron of the city and co-patron of the diocese, she is remembered September 4, the day of transfer.
Author: Domenico Agasse
Source: Famiglia Cristian, Santi e Beati