Rhoda Wise said
Jesus, St. Therese visited her
Friday, May 23, 2003
By DAVID LEWELLEN Repository staff
CANTON -- Fifty-five years after
Rhoda Wise died, believers still crowd into her tiny,
modest house on 25th Street NE near Taft Avenue.
A few seek miracles; most just want to feel a
For nine years, Wise said, she received
regular visits from Jesus and St. Therese.
the first Friday of every month, she would bleed from her
palms and forehead — wounds resembling those Christ received
on the cross, called stigmata.
Word got around,
and the line to see Wise could stretch around the block
on those days, or at other times. Even after she died in
1948, the faithful would come to visit her daughter, Anna
Mae Wise, and pray.
Today, the house is owned
by Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Alabama. It offers
meetings twice a week, and is usually open during the day
if people want to pray on their own. A small grotto next
door is to open next month, for people to visit whenever
Karen Sigler, who lives in the house
and looks after it, said that some remarkable cures have
been reported, but more often, “families come back and tell
me that (the petitioner) had a very peaceful death.
people needed, our Lord gives.”
Sigler, a lay
member of the Secular Franciscans, took care of Anna Mae
Wise for 13 years before her death in 1995.
crowd of about 20 at a prayer service last week comprised
mostly older women, some of whom had personal memories of
Tina Snyder was a student nurse at
Mercy Hospital when Wise was a patient. She goes to church
every morning, but still visits Wise’s house.
just to pray,” she said. “We don’t pray to Rhoda. We pray
Violet Yontz remembered, “I stood in
line for two hours in 1944. People were coming by the hundreds,
and it was 85 degrees.”
She couldn’t recall what
Wise said to her, or if she was bleeding, but “she shook
hands with us. I think she hugged us. It’s something special.”
“On Sunday we’d come here, and she’d bless you
if you had any problems,” said Mary Rocci. “I asked her
to bless me, and told her about my husband being in the
service. She said he’d be all right and would come back.
She offered me some consolation, which was what I needed.”
Sigler has not pushed for sainthood for Wise.
The process is long and exacting, and requires
evidence of at least two miracles performed by the candidate.
But “we keep telling the story, and it obviously means a
lot to a lot of people,” she said.
she said, would bleed “the first Friday of the month, between
noon and 3 p.m., the hours that our Lord was on the cross.
Then it would just stop and heal over, and then the next
first Friday, it would open again.”
of visitors often wore out Wise, but Sigler said that Wise’s
pastor, Monsignor George Habig of St. Peter’s, asked her
to open her house to them. But, Sigler wrote in the book,
“Her Name Means Rose,” “Monsignor found he had to make a
rule that no one could touch Rhoda, because a few disrespectful
skeptics had actually tried to push pencils into the wounds
in Rhoda’s hands and tried to rip the bandages off her head.”
Wise’s granddaughter, Darlene Zastawny, doesn’t
remember her grandmother, but she grew up around the story.
“I’d get up for breakfast, and there’d be someone
at the breakfast table I’d never seen before,” she said.
“It takes a strong person to open your house and let strangers
come in and out.”
“Cures were here. God was here,”
Zastawny said. “What draws them is to know God walked and
talked on this spot.”
For more information, call
the house at (330) 453-0322.
You can reach Repository
writer David Lewellen at (330) 580-8337 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in 1888 in Cadiz;
grew up Protestant.
Moved to Canton in 1915;
married George Wise in 1917. Adopted daughter Anna Mae in
Suffered through most of the 1930s from
abdominal tumors, leg and ankle injuries, and other illnesses.
Was treated at Mercy Hospital; converted to Catholicism
Jan. 1, 1939.
Was sent home to die in April 1939;
said she received visit from Jesus and was immediately healed
on June 28.
Recorded notes of many more visits
from Jesus and St. Therese in later years.
from her forehead for the first time in 1942; stigmata continued
for several years.
Died July 7, 1948.