St. Rose Venerini
Daughter of Godfrey Venerini, physician in Viterbo, Italy. Following the death of her fiance, she entered a convent; following the death of her father, she returned home to care for her mother.
She invited neighbourhood women to pray the rosary in her home, and formed a sort of sodality. As these friends had little religious education, she began to teach them. Jesuit Father Ignatius Martinelli, her spiritual director, convinced her that she was called to be a teacher instead of a contemplative nun.
With two friends, Rose opened a free pre-school for girls in 1685, which was well received. In 1692, Cardinal Barbarigo asked her to oversee training of teachers and the administration of schools in his diocese of Montefiascone, Italy. She organized schools in many parts of Italy, including Rome, and by the time of her death there were 40 schools under her direction. Friend and co-worker with Saint Lucia Filippini.
Rose often met opposition, some fierce, and some actually violent – her teachers were shot at with bows, and their houses burned. She was never deterred, teaching, and finding people who were willing to face the danger in order to do good. The sodality, or group of women she had invited to prayer, were ultimately given the rank of a religious congregation. Today, the so-called Venerini Sisters work with Italian immigrants in the United States and elsewhere.