The Catholic Church has countless saints. In fact, the church has over 10,000 saints that are recognized by the Church. As a result, there are numerous men and women of the faith that have gone unnoticed or unheard of by the majority of Catholics. It is sad there are so many lives that leave a path of faith for us to emulate but are missed. The host of saints interceding on our behalf is innumerable. One of those little known, yet powerful, saints is St. Rose Venerini.
Saints have a history of making saints. St. Rose Venerini is no exception. She is credited with teaching and mentoring St. Lucy Filippini, who became a powerful force for educating and training teachers. But who is St. Rose Venerini? She’s a saint you just might want to know.
St. Rose was born in 1656 in Viterbo, a province in central Italy that has ancient origins. The death of her boyfriend caused Rose to seek membership into a religious order. She entered the Dominican Convent of St. Catherine in 1676 when she was 20 years old, but she left just a few months after entering because she had to take care of her widowed mother. The illness of her mother, and subsequent leaving of the convent, perhaps allowed her to take the path which led to her becoming a powerful influence on education and faith. It put her on the journey to sainthood.
After forming a group of women to gather and pray the rosary each night, Rose saw the spiritual poverty of the women and was deeply disturbed. She was moved to do something about it. She understood they had a very limited knowledge of the faith, so she started teaching them. Teaching was her calling from God and she was good at it.
Following the advice of her spiritual director, Rose stopped seeking entrance into a religious order and turned her educational attention to the world. She opened a preschool for girls in Viterbo in 1685 and her reputation as an effective teacher spread throughout Italy. Soon, she was invited by Cardinal Barbarigo to advise and help in the training of teachers and organizing of schools in his diocese. It was through the establishment of these schools that brought St. Rose Venerini and St. Lucia Filippini together. St. Rose entrusted the important responsibility of training schoolmistresses to St. Lucia. She was faithful to that role and was so effective that St. Rose later placed St. Lucia as director of the Venerini schools.
St. Lucia would not stay with Rose, however, because Pope Clement XI called St. Lucia to Rome in 1707. Through this meeting, and much discernment, St. Lucia founded the first school of Religious Teachers Filippini and departed from her roles with St. Rose. Prior to her death in 1732 (at the age of 60 years old), St. Lucia had founded 52 schools.
It is no doubt that her years of serving with St. Rose in educating women, strengthening their faith, and diminishing their spiritual poverty, led St. Lucia on her own path to sainthood. St. Rose Venerini once said, “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.” It should be our prayer to always have the same servant heart and submissive faith to the Lord. It certainly must have been St. Lucia’s prayer as she served and worked alongside St. Rose.
In Christianity, saints make other saints. It is in serving that we teach others to serve. It is in praying that we teach others to pray. It is in loving that we teach others to love.
St. Rose Venerini, pray for us.