Feast Day: May 7
We have all no doubt heard that a tree can be known by its fruit. However, if we do not pay attention to the fruit, it will be more difficult to diagnose the health of the tree and to respond accordingly. The same is true of the life of holiness.
The life of holiness is a life in the Holy Spirit. We can do nothing to “produce” this fruit. When we are joyous, loving, peaceful, patient, kind, faithful, generous, gentle and in self-control, we trust that we are in communion with the Spirit, for it is only the Spirit who produces this fruit.
The life and work of St. Rose Venerini (1656 - 1728) witness to this truth. After the death of her fiancé and, later, her father, St. Rose found herself teaching the rosary to women and girls in her neighborhood.
She soon opened a preschool for girls in Viterbo, Italy, after being encouraged by Father Ignatius Martinelli, a Jesuit, who convinced her that her vocation was as a teacher. The first objective was to give poor girls a complete Christian formation and to prepare them for life in society. The success of the school caused her reputation to spread and she was invited to organize a number of schools in various places – often against heavy, even violent, opposition. By the time of her death, she had established 40 schools – all by the invitation of ecclesial and civic leaders who recognized the fruit of the formation she provided. Her lay school teachers were eventually organized as a religious congregation known primarily as the Venerini Sisters.
The main fruit of the education provided by St. Rose was moral in nature. Wherever a new school sprang up, in a short time a moral improvement could be noted in the youth. So much so that on Oct. 24, 1716, St. Rose and her teachers 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. ” The tree will absolutely be known by its fruit. Pay attention to the fruit.