Saint Rose of Viterbo

4th September

Every now and then we come across the term ‘a child prodigy’ or ‘a wonder child’. These terms describe ‘a person under the age of ten who performs in some domain to the level of an adult expert.’ This characteristic manifests in children in the fields of art, music, mathematics, science, and other areas of technology.

St. Rose of Viterbo was such a child, but with a difference. Her excellence, manifested at a very tender age, was the gift of profound spirituality.

She lived between 1235 and 1252 . She was born in Viterbo in central Italy at a time when Italy was not yet unified but divided into states. Rome and the areas around it were referred to as the Papal States that came under the jurisdiction of the Pope, even in political power. Emperor Frederick ll, seeking power over the Italian states, invaded the Papal states in 1240 when Rose was five years old. The Emperor was excommunicated by the Pope, but he succeeded in occupying the Papal states including Viterbo.

This was the ‘climate’ that surrounded the childhood and teenage years of  Rose. In her short life, her profound spirituality shone from a very early age in an extraordinary way. It is believed that when she was only 3, she prayed as she stood by the coffin of her dead aunt who came to life again. She was only 7 years old when she would spend her days in prayer and penance in a small room in her parents house. It was at this time that it is said Rose had a vision of Our Lady, who told her to become a lay Franciscan and to be ‘a witness of God in the world.’
She was only 12 years old when she went out in the streets to preach!

She spoke about the authority of the Pope, about repentance, justice and mercy, encouraging people to remain loyal to their beliefs. Even at that tender age, she did not refrain from speaking against the occupation of the anti-papal forces. As a result she was in danger of being killed. So the mayor exiled her together with her parents. As she moved from town to town, she did not cease to preach and convert people. She even predicted the death of Emperor Frederick, who in fact died eight days after her prediction.
On her return home, she asked to be accepted as a nun with the Poor Clares but she was refused. . .  because she could not afford to have a dowry!

She died a few years later when she was just 17 years old. Her body was moved to the convent of the Poor Clares, who had refused her as ‘a pauper and then accepted her as a saint.’

Take the opportunity to speak to the children about the Pope

  • His real name (the reason why he chose to be called Francis ~ the country he came from ~ how a Pope is chosen by the Cardinals who are called to Rome when a Pope dies.)
  • Find a picture of the Pope and paste it on a card together with one of his sayings.
  • Consider writing a private message and forwarding it to him (click here)!

Like St. Rose:

  • we are all called to be a witness for God in the world by letting our belief in Him ’shine’ in the way we live, in the way we behave, in the way we speak.
  • We are witnesses in the way we act towards others, because that is what He did: He accepted everyone. Share with the children daily experiences.
  • We are witnesses of God when we speak up in simple ways about the truths of our Faith.
    e.g. Discuss with the children about what they would say if a friend says that following Mass online is as good as going to church to hear Mass.

Family Prayer Time:
Lead the children to pray for the Pope.

Let them express their spontaneous concerns about the Holy Father. You will be surprised what they come up with!

Pray to Our Lord and Our Lady for his well being

  • spend a short quiet time (background soft music) and lead the children into the presence of God.
  • Guide a prayer for the children asking God to show them how best to serve Him in their way of life.
  • Sing together “This little light of mine”

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.