A rose will bloom in the desert
For the second time Frederick II was excommunicated; he retaliated by attacking the papal states, and this is where rose of Viterbo came in. In 1240, Frederick II decided to occupy Viterbo! The Lord always with us, in time of need, sent into this world of hopelessness and helplessness, a baby! A few years before the frightening entry of Frederick II into the sweet, serene village of Viterbo, there was an entry that would inflame the populace with new courage and hope, a child was born! Little Rose, who was named when she was baptized, would let out a cry that would grow and grow until it awakened the people to a new consciousness that they could make a difference.
Her parents were not of noble birth, but had instead the gifts needed by a future Saint, holiness, virtue, piety, humility and charity. From her earliest years, Rose showed an alive, unending, overflowing love for the Church, for Jesus, the Blessed Mother, the Angels and the Saints. When she was just eight years old, she had a vision of the Blessed Mother in which Mother Mary told Rose she would be clothed in the habit of Saint Francis. She was not to become a cloistered Nun, but a tertiary, part of the third order, remaining at home, giving witness to her family and neighbors by word and action of Jesus in her life.
She later became ill. But the Lord having too much for her to do, she soon recovered and donned the habit of the lay penitents of Saint Francis. When she began, to contemplate Jesus’ suffering, and how wounded He was by the ingratitude of His children, Rose went to the people of Viterbo, preaching in the streets, knocking on doors, going from house to house, berating her neighbors for their complacency and apathy toward the freedom they had lost at the hands of Frederick II.
She told them they could be free; all they had to do was overthrow the Ghibelline garrison. She was all of age twelve! But her age did not deter the populace from listening, their hearts on fire! It had been so long since anyone had spoken of the beauty of Italy, of the promise the Lord made to His children not to leave them orphans. She told them they were not born to be slaves, but free! They listened! And miracles came about! Everywhere she went, she was greeted warmly; citizens having heard of her and the marvels surrounding her speechmaking, gathered to hear the Good News! Men who no longer had the will to get up in the morning were plowing their land, once more; after all, it was their land, little Rose had said so. And so, new life came into the ancient village of Viterbo.
Crowds began to gather; her father became nervous; soon, the authorities would hear of her and they would all be punished. What was wrong with her; after all, they had food on their table! He scolded; he pleaded; he berated her; he cajoled her; finally, she leaving him no recourse, he threatened to beat her if she did not stay home and cease her preaching. Rose replied, “If Jesus could be beaten for me, I can be beaten for Him. I do what He has told me to do, and I must not disobey Him.”
Father and daughter seemed at loggerheads, when the local parish priest intervened; he urged her father to cease restraining Rose from doing her Divinely appointed duty. He withdrew his objections and Rose was free to preach; and preach she did, tirelessly rising early in the morning, retiring late at night, as if one driven, knowing time was short. This sounds like the urgency Jesus had with three short years to reach the children of God. This sounds like the time of Jesus; it sounds like today, with the few speaking out, the John Baptists of our day crying out in the desert, Repent and be saved! And the many…..?
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