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Rose Venerini

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Saint Rose Venerini
Rosa venerini.jpg
Born February 2, 1656, Viterbo, Italy
Died May 7, 1728, Rome, Italy
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified May 4, 1952
Canonized 3 June 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI
Feast May 7

Saint Rosa Venerini (February 9 1656May 7 1728) was the founder of a Roman Catholic religious congregation of women, often called the Venerini Sisters. Rosa Venerini died a saintly death in the community of St. Mark's in Rome on the evening of May 7 1728.

She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 15 October 2006.

Early life

She was born in Viterbo, Italy. Her father, Goffredo, originally from Castelleone di Suasa (Ancona), after having completed his doctorate in medicine at Rome, moved to Viterbo where he practiced the medical profession brilliantly in the Grand Hospital. From his marriage to Marzia Zampichetti, of an ancient family of Viterbo, four children were born: Domenico, Maria Maddalena, Rosa and Orazio.

According to her first biographer, Father Girolamo Andreucci, S.I., she made a vow to consecrate her life to God at the age of seven. At age twenty, Rosa raised questions about her own future. In the autumn of 1676, on the advice of her father, Rosa entered the Dominican Monastery of St. Catherine, with the prospect of fulfilling her vow. With her Aunt Anna Cecilia beside her, she learned to listen to God in silence and in meditation. She remained in the monastery for only a few months because the sudden death of her father forced her to return to her mother. Her brother Domenico then died at only 27 years of age; a few months later her mother died.

In the meantime, Maria Maddalena married. There remained at home only Orazio and Rosa, by now twenty-four years old. Rosa began to gather the girls and women of the area in her own home to recite the rosary. The way in which the girls and women prayed, and above all, their conversation before and after the prayer, opened the mind and heart of Rosa to a sad reality: the woman of the common people was a slave of cultural, moral and spiritual poverty. She then understood a higher mission which she gradually identified, in the urgent need to dedicate herself to the instruction and Christian formation of young women, not with sporadic encounters, but with a school understood in the real and true sense of the word.

On August 30, 1685, with the approval of the Bishop of Viterbo, Cardinal Urbano Sacchetti and the collaboration of two friends, Gerolama Coluzzelli and Porzia Bacci, Rosa left her father’s home to begin her first school, according to an innovative plan that had matured in prayer and her search for the will of God. The first objective of the Foundress was to give the girls of the common people a complete Christian formation and prepare them for life in society. Without great pretense, Rosa opened the first “Public School for Girls in Italy”. The origins were humble but the significance was prophetic: the human promotion and spiritual uplifting of woman was a reality that did not take long to receive the recognition of the religious and civil authorities.


The initial stages were not easy. The three Maestre (teachers) had to face the resistance of clergy who considered the teaching of the catechism as their private office. But the harshest suspicion came from conformists who were scandalized by the boldness of this woman of the upper middle class of Viterbo who had taken to heart the education of ignorant girls. Rosa faced everything for the love of God and with her characteristic strength, continuing on the path that she had undertaken, by now sure that she was truly following the plan of God. The fruits proved her to be right. The same pastors recognized the moral improvement that the work of education generated among the girls and mothers.

The validity of this initiative was acknowledged and its fame went beyond the confines of the Diocese. Mark Antonio Cardinal Barbarigo, Bishop of Montefiascone, understood the Viterbo project and he called Rosa to his diocese. From 1692 to 1694, she opened ten schools in Montefiascone and the villages surrounding Lake Bolsena. The cardinal provided the material means and Rosa made the families aware, trained the teachers, and organized the schools. When she had to return to Viterbo to attend to her first school, Rosa entrusted the schools and the teachers to the direction of a young woman, Lucia Filippini, in whom she has seen particular gifts of mind, heart and spirit.

After the openings in Viterbo and Montefiascone, other schools were started in Lazio. Rosa reached Rome in 1706, but the first experience in Rome was a failure, which caused her to wait six long years before regaining the trust of the authorities. On December 8 1713, with the help of Abate Degli Atti, a friend of the Venerini family, Rosa was able to open one of her schools in the center of Rome at the foot of the Campidoglio.

On October 24, 1716, they received a visit from Pope Clement XI, accompanied by eight Cardinals, who wanted to attend the lessons. At the end of the morning he addressed these words to rosa: “Signora Rosa, you are doing that which we cannot do. We thank you very much because with these schools you will sanctify Rome ”.

From that moment on, Governors and Cardinals asked for schools for their areas. The duties of the Foundress became intense, consisting of travels and hard work interwoven with joys and sacrifices for the formation of new communities. Wherever a new school sprang up, in a short time a moral improvement could be noted in the youth.

Rosa Venerini died a saintly death in the community of St. Mark's in Rome on the evening of May 7, 1728. She had opened more than forty schools. Her remains were entombed in the nearby Church of the Gesù, so loved by her. In 1952, on the occasion of her beatification, they were transferred to the chapel of the Generalate in Rome.

After her first contacts with the Dominican Fathers at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Oak Tree, near Viterbo, she followed the austere spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola under the direction of the Jesuits, especially Father Ignatius Martinelli.

After having made its contribution to the Italian immigrants to the USA from 1909 and in Switzerland from 1971 to 1985, the Congregation extended its apostolic activity to other lands: India, Brazil, Cameroon, Romania, Albania, Chile, Venezuela and Nigeria.

Venerini Sisters' Beliefs

The Venerini Sisters believe that as women of Prayer, we are called to share the Gospel message of love, peace, and justice through the charisma of Saint Rosa Venerini. This ideal is shared by community members and by persons who through the Associate Membership are deeply concerned with the values and goals of Christian living. Inspired by the charisma of Saint Rosa Venerini an associate lives the Gospel message through service to the People of God. United in Spirit and prayer with the Sisters, and associate aims to deepen a personal relationship with God. Sharing the vision of the Venerini Sisters an associate broadens the mission of the vowed members. This association is for interested persons, 18 years of age and older, who wish to give expression to their relationship with the religious community of the Venerini Sisters. The primary bond is one of mutual support through prayer and shared ministries. The Associates make yearly promises and live in their own homes.

Venerini Sisters Common Bond Statement

The call of the Venerini Sisters is to be a community of women of prayer, living the Gospel through service and availability to the people of God.

Vowed Membership

In imitation of Christ, the Sisters are called to holiness based on the Gospel values of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The Venerini Sisters Live Community

This affords the Sisters the opportunity for spiritual growth along with apostolic discernment which helps them realize their individual call to the ministry

The Venerini Sisters Live Mission

They answer the call to serve the people of God and the Church. The Sisters engage in various ministries that recognize Christ in each person treating all with respect, love and caring.

The Venerini Sisters Live A Life of Service

They render apostolic service through teaching, catechesis, pastoral ministry, health care, social services,youth ministry and foreign missions. They minister in Italy, Albania, Romania, the United States, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and Africa guided by the Charism of their foundress, "Educate to Set Free". Saint Rose Venerini (born 1656 in Viterbo; died at Rome in 1728) was an Italian nun who set up the first school for girls in Italy.

She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 15 October 2006.

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