I knew He would do what He thought best. He did, and I will devote my whole life to working for Him in any way He wants to use me. -Rhoda Wise, 1939
It’s interesting how the lives of holy people often intersect. Throughout the history of the Church we have many stories of saints who were friends with other saints, and it’s often been said that saints beget saints. Well, we may be one step closer to having a formally recognized “saint” from the US! After an informal preliminary investigation, the formal cause for beatification and canonization for Rhoda Wise, a wife, mother, convert, mystic and stigmatist from Ohio, will open this October.
Rhoda’s story is amazing – she was miraculously healed from tremendous physical sufferings, and she also endured much suffering for love of God and souls, sharing in the passion wounds of Our Lord for the last six years of her life. She also had an important role in the early life of Mother Angelica.
Rhoda, while still a Protestant, had learned of St. Therese from Sr. Clement, one of the Mercy Sisters who cared for her in hospital. Sister gave her a St. Therese novena prayer, as well as a small shrine, and a devotion to the French Carmelite saint developed. Eventually, St. Therese herself appeared to Rhoda and healed her of a very painful open wound on her abdomen, which doctors had said was incurable.
When a teenage Rita Rizzo was afflicted with a very painful stomach ailment, her mother took her to visit the local mystic, who gave her a copy of the novena to St. Therese. On the ninth day, Rita woke up to find that her dropped stomach was cured, and it was this miracle that helped her to first realize how much God loved her. Her response was whole-hearted and enthusiastic, leading her to give herself completely to God in religious life. Our Lord once told Rhoda that Rita would do great things for the Church. “My Rita?” she asked. Who but Our Lord could have known that a feisty young girl with a difficult childhood would go on to found a global television network and, more importantly, teach the world the beauty and value of suffering. In this, she was just like her friend, Rhoda Wise.
A 19 year old Rita Rizzo (far right) standing next to Rhoda Wise
Rhoda entered into eternity on July 7, 1948. Today begins the annual novena leading up to this anniversary. Here are the novena prayers, taken from the official website of the Rhoda Wise home. Please visit the website to learn more about Rhoda’s life and the many miracles God worked through her.
(These Prayers Are For Private Use Only)
My Friend, you are my true Friend. My only Friend. You take part in all my misfortunes. You know how to turn them into blessings. You listen to me with great kindness when I tell you all my troubles, and you always have something with which to heal my wounds.
I find you at any time of the day or night, for I find you wherever I happen to be. You never leave me. If I change my dwelling place,
I find you wherever I go. You never weary of listening to me. I am certain of being loved by You, if I but love You. My worldly goods are of no value to you, but by bestowing yours on me You never grow the poorer. However miserable I may be, no one more noble, more clever, or even more holy, can come between You and me and deprive me of your friendship.
And death, which tears us away from all other friends will unite me forever to You. All the humiliations attached to old age or the loss of honor will never separate you from me; On the contrary, I shall never enjoy You more fully and you will never be closer to me than when everything seems to conspire against me and cast me down. You bear with all my faults with extreme patience. Even my lack of fidelity and my ingratitude do not wound you to such a degree as to make you unwilling to receive me back when I return to you. O Jesus, grant that I may die loving you and that I may die for love of you. Amen
– St. Claude de la Columbiere
O Lord Jesus Christ, our Mediator with the Father, Who has appointed the most blessed Virgin, Thy Mother, to be our Mother also and Our Mediatrix before You; grant that whoever draws close to You to beseech any benefit may receive all things through her and rejoice. You live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
O beautiful Rose of Carmel, Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus, deign according to your promise to descend from Heaven to visit
those who implore you, and to pour down in profusion those Celestial Graces that are symbolized by the shower of roses that Jesus, your Spouse, has put at your disposal. Your power is great with his Heart. He can only listen and hear your prayer. I have recourse to you then, O Saint Therese of the Child Jesus; assist me in this need (mention your intention.) Speak for me to Jesus and to Mary and obtain for me the grace to live a holy life and die a happy death. Amen
An Our Father, Hail Mary , and Glory be for the intentions of Rhoda Wise.
“I do not see the Sacred Heart as others do. I think that my Spouse’s heart is mine alone, as mine is his alone, and I speak to him in the solitude of this delightful heart to heart exchange, waiting for the day when I will contemplate him face to face.”
(St. Therese in a letter to her sister, Celine, October 14, 1890)