St Rose of Viterbo Healing Oil
The St Rose of Viterbo healing oil is dedicated to the Italian saint who lived as a recluse. She was born in Viterbo (c. 1233 – March 6, 1251). It was then a contested commune of the Papal States. She spent her brief life as a recluse, who was outspoken in her support of the papacy. Otherwise leading an unremarkable life, she later became known for her mystical gifts of prophecy and having miraculous powers. She is honoured as a saint by the Catholic Church.
As a child Rose had a great desire to pray and to aid the poor. She prayed much for the conversion of sinners. Rose was not yet 10 years old when the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have instructed her to take the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis and to preach penance in Viterbo.
Rose lives the life of a recluse
Rose was soon admitted to the Franciscan Third Order and adopted its religious habit, a simple tunic with a cord around her waist. While walking the streets with a crucifix in her hand, she would exhort others to be faithful to the Catholic Church. She lived a life of prayer, penance and solitude in her father’s home.
Every now and then she would emerge from her solitude to entreat the people to do penance. Her mission seems to have lasted for about two years. In January 1250, Viterbo, her native city, was then in revolt against the pope. When she was 12, she began preaching in the streets against Frederick’s occupation of Viterbo. She and her family were exiled from the city. 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 fulfilled 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.
Poor Clares refuse entry
Rose wished to enter the Poor Clare Monastery of St. Mary in the city, but was refused because of her poverty, as she was not able to provide the dowry required for admission. She accepted her rejection, nonetheless foretelling her admission to the monastery after her death.
Rose died on March 6, 1251, in her father’s home. It was long believed that Rose had died of tuberculosis. In 2010, however, researchers examining her remains concluded that she had died of complications due to Pentalogy of Cantrell.
The process of Rose’s canonisation 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 honour.
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