Rose of Viterbo (1235–1252)

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Rose of Viterbo (1235–1252)

Franciscan preacher and saint. Name variations: Rosa di Viterbo. Born in 1235 in Viterbo, Italy; died in 1252 (some sources cite 1253 or 1261) in Viterbo; never married; no children.

Rose of Viterbo, an Italian holy woman, was born in Italy in 1235. Unlike so many famous medieval holy women, she was not from the ruling classes. She was a peasant who wanted to join a Franciscan convent, but, without a dowry, she could not be accepted. Instead, she joined the informal tertiary order of Franciscans, a group who traveled constantly to preach in the streets. Rose, who never married, became a well-known figure in Viterbo, giving sermons on various sins, urging residents to oppose heretical movements and making political speeches as well. She gained a considerable following of believers who thought her capable of performing miracles, and felt she bore a special message from God. She is an excellent example of the "popular" medieval saint, an unlettered woman whose following was sufficiently large to pressure the Church into naming her a saint.


Dunbar, Agnes. Dictionary of Saintly Women. Vol. I. London: G. Bell, 1904.

Echols, Anne, and Marty Williams. An Annotated Index of Medieval Women. NY: Markus Wiener, 1992.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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