The faithful committed to the beatification of Rhoda Wise, Servant of God, gathered recently to honor and remember the woman who they pray will one day be a saint.
These pilgrims of the Cause gathered once again on July 7—the day of her death—for Mass at St. Peter Catholic Church in downtown Canton, where Wise worshipped during her life.
Before Mass, Bishop Bonnar and Dr. Culurgioni paid a visit to the Rhoda Wise House.
Among the guests who were there to mark the life and times of Rhoda Wise was Dr. Valentina Culurgioni, now the postulator of the Cause, after the retirement of Dr. Andrea Ambrosi. Dr. Culurgioni traveled from Italy to Canton for the Mass to give an update of the process. Dr. Curlurgioni was introduced by the Very Rev. Msgr. Michael Cariglio, J.C.L.
According to Culurgioni, “the Cause of beatification and canonization is now in the Roman phase. After the closing session of the Diocesan Inquiry, the Acts were sent to the Dicastery of the Causes of Saints in Rome. The Dicastery recognized the juridical validity of the Inquiry on July 5, 2019, and appointed, among its members, a Relator. The Relator is leading the redaction of the Positio super vita, virtutibus et fama sanctitatis (life, virtue and reputation of holiness), which is a unique volume composed of a systematic re-organization of the documents collected in the Acts. This important task has been entrusted to Avv. Claudia Ciotola, our Collaborator, who’s doing very good work! We expect that next year, at this time, the Positio will be completed and will be ready to be submitted to the historians, theologians and bishops of the Dicastery for their evaluation.
“Every prayer that each of us offers is a little but essential drop in this deep sea,” Culurgioni said. “Please keep praying and witnessing to Rhoda’s intercession in your lives and keep witnessing the merciful love of God who gives us such friends to grow and be strengthened in faith and in His love.”
Wise was born in Cadiz, Ohio, on February 22, 1888—one of eight children of Eli and Anna Greer. She grew up on Wheeling Island, West Virginia, and spent her married life in Canton. She and her husband George Wise had one daughter, Anna Mae.
Wise experienced many health challenges throughout her life. Because of an open wound in her abdomen, she spent ten months in Mercy Hospital. While a patient there, Wise spent much time with the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and became devoted to the Rosary and to St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower). Raised in the Protestant faith, Wise was drawn to Catholicism and, while still in the hospital, converted to the Catholic faith after a brief period of instruction by Monsignor George Habig, the pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in Canton. Later, during the same hospital stay, she was confirmed by Bishop James A. McFadden. In May 1939, Wise was sent home from the hospital to die. Two months later, after a visit from Jesus and the St. Therese, Wise’s wound was healed.
Those would not be the last visitations that Wise would receive. From the time of her cure in 1939 until her death on July 7, 1948 at the age of 60, Wise was favored with 15 apparitions of the Lord and 20 apparitions of the Little Flower. From 1942 to 1944, Wise received the stigmata, the wounds of the Crucified Lord, on her hands and feet, and in 1945 she began to bleed profusely from the wounds on her forehead.
Wise received a final visitation from the Lord on June 28, 1948, ten days before her death. During that apparition, the Lord told Wise to tell the people that “there are not nearly enough of them saying the daily rosary; they must say the Rosary for the conversion of Russia.” He then showed her his bleeding Sacred Heart.
It is estimated that 14,000 people paid their final respects to Wise; her funeral was one of the largest in Canton’s history.
“Rhoda Wise used her whole being as God’s coworker in building the kingdom of God,” said The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar in his homily. “In the second reading from Ephesians, St. Paul speaks about we are called to be holy. In living out a journey that involved suffering on many levels, Rhoda Wise came to embrace this universal call to holiness. It appears that the more she suffered, the holier she became. In the weariness of her suffering, Rhoda came to Jesus.”