Rose of Viterbo
|St. Rose of Viterbo, T.O.S.F.|
|Died||March 6, 1251/2 (aged 17/18)
|Honored in||Third Order of St. Francis, Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||1457 by Pope Callistus III|
|Patronage||people in exile; people rejected by religious orders; tertiaries; Viterbo, Italy|
Born of poor and pious parents, even as a child Rose had a great desire to pray and to aid the poor. When but three years old, she allegedly raised to life her maternal aunt. At the age of seven, she had already lived the life of a recluse, devoting herself to penances. She prayed much for the conversion of sinners. Rose was not yet 10 years old when the Blessed Virgin Mary is reputed to have instructed her to enroll herself in the Third Order of St. Francis and to preach penance to Viterbo, at that time held by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor.
Her attempt at age 15 to found a religious community failed and she returned to a life of prayer and penance in her father's home.
When Rose was 17 years old, she clothed herself in the dress of a Franciscan, wearing a simple garb with a cord around her waist. While walking the streets with a crucifix in her hand, she exhorted others to be faithful to the church. Every now and then she would emerge from her solitude to entreat the people to do penance. Her mission seems to have extended for about two years. In January 1250, Viterbo, her native city, was then in revolt against the pope. When Rose took the pope’s side against the emperor, she and her family were exiled from the city and took refuge in Soriano nel Cimino. When the pope’s side won in Viterbo, Rose was allowed to return.
On December 5, 1250, Rose allegedly foretold the speedy death of the emperor, a prophecy realized on December 13. Soon afterwards she went to Vitorchiano, whose inhabitants, according to surviving reports, were affected by a supposed sorceress. Rose secured the conversion of all, even of the sorceress, reportedly by standing unscathed for three hours in the flames of a burning pyre.
She wished to enter the Poor Clare Monastery of St. Mary of the Roses, but was refused because of her poverty, as she was not able to provide the dowry required for admission. She agreed to her rejection, nonetheless foretelling her admission to the monastery after her death.
She died on March 6, 1251, in her father’s home. It was long believed Rose died of tuberculosis. On June 11, 2010, researchers examining her remains concluded that she had died of a heart condition called Cantrell's syndrome.
The process of her canonization was opened in the year of her death by Pope Innocent IV, but was not definitively undertaken until 1457. Originally buried at the parish church of Santa Maria in Poggio, in 1257 Pope Alexander IV ordered it moved to the monastery she had desired to enter, at which time it was renamed in her honor.
When the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church was reformed after the Second Vatican Council, her feast day was transferred to the date of her death. September 4 is the date of the translation of her relics to the monastery of Saint Damian. It is this latter date on which her feast is celebrated in Viterbo and by the Franciscans.
On September 3, the eve of the feast of Saint Rose, the people of Viterbo follow the transportation of "La macchina" (i.e., “the Machine of St. Rose” ) a massive 28 metre high tower, illuminated with 3,000 tiny electric lights and 880 candles, and topped off with a statue of Viterbo’s patron saint, Saint Rose, which is carried for 1,200 metres through the darkened streets of the old medieval town on the backs of around 100 volunteers called “facchini.” The tradition goes all the way back to September 4, 1258, when the body of the saint was exhumed and transported to the monastery of Saint Damian; but it was not until 1664, following seven years of plague in the city, that a “machine” first appeared. In gratitude for having survived such a terrible pestilence the citizens voted to renew the veneration of their saint every year. 
Viterbo University is a Catholic, Franciscan university in the liberal arts tradition, founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, located in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
- Cleary, Gregory. "St. Rose of Viterbo." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 5 Mar. 2013
- Viterbo University
- Foley OFM, Leonard, "St. Rose of Viterbo", Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (rev. by Pat McCloskey OFM), Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
- Habig ofm, Marion ed., The Franciscan Book of Saints, 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
- D'Anastasio PhD, Ruggero et al, "The Heart of Santa Rosa", The Lancet, Volume 375, Issue 9732, Page 2168, 19 June 2010
- The "Machine" of St. Rose of Viterbo", August 24, 2009
- Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
- De Kerval, Ste Rose, sa vie et son temps (Vanves, 1896);
- Pizzi, Storia della Città di Viterbo (Rome, 1887).