SAINT ROSE VENERINI, A.K.A. ROSA VENERINI (1656-1728)
Founder of the Venerini Sisters
In the hierarchy of needs, as people understand it, physical survival ought never to crowd out spiritual wellbeing. St. Rose Venerini understood this well.
Born to a devout Roman Catholic family in Viterbo, Italy, the saint received an excellent Christian education. She understood her faith well. When she realized how poor and uneducated many of the girls in her hometown were, she rethought her previous thought of joining a convent one day. Her vocation would be in the world, working with poor and uneducated girls. She began to teaching women and young girls in her neighborhood how to pray using the Rosary, something largely unknown to them.
Then the saint realized that these girls and women were mostly unaware of the contents of the catechism. So, in 1685, with the help of friends, the saint opened a school for poor girls. The curriculum included catechesis, reading and writing, and manual labor. This was the genesis of the Venerini Sisters, known also as the Holy Teachers. They opened other schools at the request of bishops and cardinals. The good work expanded.
The saint opened a school in Rome in 1713. That year Pope Clement XI visited the school in the company of eight cardinals. They observed the Holy Teachers at work. The Holy Father commended this effort, thanking Rose and her fellow Sisters. He said, “I desire that these schools spread to all our cities.” The good work expanded further with Papal encouragement.
The saint died in Rome on May 7, 1728, having opened over forty schools. Pope Pius XII beatified her in 1952 and Pope Benedict XVI canonized her in 2006. Today the Venerini Sisters continue her work across the planet, fulfilling the saint’s charism to “educate to liberate.”
The website of the Venerini Sisters: http://venerinisisters.com/global.html
The work to which St. Rose Venerini devoted herself and to which members of her order continue to devote themselves remains essential. Growing up in United Methodist parsonages in southern Georgia, I noticed that many senior adults who had been in the church since they were “knee-high to a grasshopper,” as we say in the South, were theologically illiterate. Members of many denominations share in this condition. Certainly many conscientious Sunday School teachers and members of the clergy do their best to further Christian education, so I choose not to play simplistic blame games. But I remain convinced that one must claim the faith for himself or herself, and understand it. This includes intellectual acceptance but moves beyond it, for the faith must permeate one’s being. Belief, in the classical Christian sense, is trust. So to say that one believes in God is to say that one trusts God. But how can one trust if one does not understand first?
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
FEBRUARY 20, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A
THE FEAST OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, PROPHETIC WITNESS
THE FEAST OF HENRY JUDAH MIKELL, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA
THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF AFRICA
THE FEAST OF WILLIAM GRANT BROUGHTON, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF SYDNEY
The Collect for Proper 28 (from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer) along with the Revised Common Lectionary readings for that Sunday:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Judges 4:1-7 and Psalm 123
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 and Psalm 90:1-8(9-11), 12
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11