Wednesday, May 06, 2015

St. Rose Venerini: Founder of the "Holy Teachers"

The saint of the day for May 7th is St. Rose Venerini (1656-1713).

Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy in 1656, of a very pious family. She received a good Christian education from her family. At age 20, with her father’s encouragement, Rosa entered the Dominican Monastery of Saint Catherine but remained only a few months. Upon the death of her father, Rosa returned home to care for her mother.

As a child, she made a vow to become a nun, but she was deeply moved by the poverty and ignorance of the young girls of her town, and 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, and she realized that none of them knew how to pray. She began to question them about catechism, and all of them remained silent. Rose understood that the woman of her time was a slave of ignorance and poverty, destined to the heaviest work, and that no one worried about her well-being. So she prayed intensely to understand the Will of God.

In August 1685, she decided to open a school for the girls of poor families. 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 were not religious sisters, but they lived as such and were called Pious Teachers, and in Rome they were even called “Holy Teachers”.

In 1713, Rose opened a school in Rome and Pope Clement XI paid her the honor of a visit. The Pope stayed the whole morning in the school, along with eight cardinals, listening to the class of catechism and asking the students questions. At the end of the visit, he called Rose and her companions, thanked them for their precious work, and told them: “I desire that these schools spread to all of our cities.” Soon afterward, the schools spread throughout Italy. The group of women she had invited to prayer, who became teachers, was ultimately given the rank of a religious congregation. Today, the Venerini Sisters can be found in the United States and throughout the world.

On October 15, 2006, Rose was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI. St. Rose is the patron of exiles, people rejected by religious orders, tertiaries, and Viterbo, Italy.

For a detailed biography, go here.

Papal Quote on St. Rose Venerini

"Saint Rose Venerini is another example of a faithful disciple of Christ, ready to give up all in order to do the will of God. She loved to say: “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.” From here, from this surrender to God, sprang the long-admired work that she courageously developed in favor of the spiritual elevation and authentic emancipation of the young women of her time. Saint Rose did not content herself with providing the girls an adequate education, but she was concerned with assuring their complete formation, with sound references to the Church’s doctrinal teaching. Her own apostolic style continues to characterize the life of the Congregation of the Religious Teachers Venerini which she founded. And how timely and important for today’s society is this service, which puts them in the field of education and especially of the formation of women."

~Pope Benedict XVI, from the canonization homily of Saint Rose

Saint Quote

“I feel so nailed to the Will of God that nothing else matters, neither death nor life. I want what He wants; I want to serve Him as much as pleases Him and no more”.
~ St. Rose Venerini

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