The Cause of an Ohio mystic is heading to Rome

Last Friday the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, closed its two-year investigation into the Cause for canonisation of Rhoda Wise.

Plagued by ill health throughout her life, Wise experienced several miraculous healings following her conversion to Catholicism in 1939. She was a mystic, and had visions of both Christ and St Thérèse of Lisieux. She was also a stigmatist. In 1942 she received the wounds of the Crown of Thorns. The following year she also developed wounds on her hand and feet.

Wise is perhaps best known, however, for her influence on Rita Rizzo. By 1943, Wise’s reputation as a miracle-worker was firmly established. Mae Helen Rizzo brought her daughter Rita to see Wise, hoping to cure a painful lump on the girl’s abdomen. Wise prescribed to the girl – an unabashed sceptic – the novena of the Little Flower; on the last day of the prayer, her ailment disappeared.

Rizzo eventually joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and took the name Mother Angelica of the Annunciation. She went on to establish the Catholic television network EWTN in 1980, which quickly became a veritable media empire. (EWTN has since acquired the National Catholic Register newspaper and the Catholic News Agency website.)

“I would argue that she was Mother Angelica’s spiritual director and shaped her approach to spirituality,” said Raymond Arroyo, the nun’s biographer and an EWTN anchor. Indeed, Mother Angelica’s mission – both as a businesswoman and a host of her own highly popular show, Mother Angelica Live – is an indispensable part of Wise’s own legacy.

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