For today’s post we reach back only a few centuries, to late Renaissance Italy. Today’s saint is Saint Rose Venerini:
Saint Rose Venerini, M.P.V., (February 9, 1656 – May 7, 1728) was a pioneer in the education of women and girls in 17th-century Italy and the foundress of the Religious Teachers Venerini (Italian: Maestre Pie Venerini), a Roman Catholic religious institute of women, often simply called the Venerini Sisters. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 15, 2006.
(Full article can be found here)
Here are some excerpts from the wiki about her:
In the meantime, Rose’s sister Maria Maddalena married. There remained at home only Orazio and Rosa, by now 24 years old. Rosa began to gather 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 conversations at these gatherings, showed Rosa a sad reality: the average woman of the town was a slave to cultural, moral and spiritual poverty.
After Venerini’s first contacts with the Dominican friars at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Oak Tree, near Viterbo, she chose to follow the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola under the direction of the Jesuits, especially Father Ignatius Martinelli, who became her spiritual director. Under his guidance, she then saw a higher mission for herself, namely, the urgent need to dedicate herself to the instruction and Christian formation of young women, not with sporadic encounters, but with formal education.
She was highly successful in her efforts to form schools for young women in Italy. By the end of her life she was responsible for over three dozen of them, and had lain the foundations for many more to be built in the future. When she tried to start a school in Rome, it attracted the notice of the Holy See:
On October 24, 1716, the Sisters received a visit by Pope Clement XI, accompanied by eight cardinals, who wanted to observe the lessons. At the end of the morning he addressed these words to Rose: “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
(The parts in bold are because of me, for emphasis)
I was somewhat surprised at first by the initial praise of Pope Clement, but then I realized it wasn’t some early manifestation of feminism in the Church. Rather, his Holiness had Titus 2 in mind:
3 Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.
Saint Rose Venerini was a Titus 2 woman. Her example of teaching moral guidance to young women to Italy regardless of their social standing or background should be an inspiration for all Sisters of the faith. I strongly encourage my readers to peruse (in the proper sense of the word) the entire article about her.