Rhoda Wise was born in Ohio in 1888, the daughter of a bricklayer and his wife. Widowed shortly after her first marriage, she remarried and adopted two daughters. But her second husband, George Wise, was an alcoholic who wasn’t able to keep a steady job and provide adequately for his family.
In addition to these challenges, Rhoda developed a 39-pound ovarian cyst that required surgical removal in 1932, from which she seemed to recover well. In a separate incident in 1936, she seriously injured her ankle and was afterward painfully crippled.
A couple years later, Rhoda’s doctors found that she had developed complications stemming from her initial surgery. This discovery necessitated further operations that left her with an open abdominal wound.
While she was at the hospital, which was run by religious sisters, she—a Protestant—became interested in the Rosary and asked a sister to teach it to her. She also became deeply devoted to St. Thérèse of Lisieux and, drawn to the Catholic Faith, was received into the Church in 1939.
Later that year, she was sent home after the doctor determined that she was suffering from incurable stomach cancer. The drainage from her wound eventually caused her whole abdomen to become raw and sore.
As she lay on her sickbed at home, she attested that she received an extraordinary visitor.
Rhoda said that Our Lord appeared to her, clothed in gold and resplendent, on May 28, 1939. He said He would return 31 days later, and on June 28, He appeared again with St. Thérèse, who healed Rhoda of her abdominal ailment. In August, St. Thérèse visited her again to heal her casted foot.
Up until her death, Rhoda received several other apparitions of Our Lord and St. Thérèse, and between 1942 and 1945, suffered from the visible stigmata every First Friday between 12 PM and 3 PM. One of Our Lord’s requests was an echo of the Fatima message: that the Rosary be said every day for the conversion of Russia. He also foretold that many cures and conversions would take place on account of Rhoda’s story.
Souls in need of healing or desiring to see this holy woman flocked to her house. Among them was Rita Rizzo, later to become Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN, who was herself healed of a stomach affliction.
Rhoda Wise died in 1948. In 2016, Bishop Murry of Youngstown opened the cause of her beatification and declared her a “Servant of God.” Two years later, her case was sent to the Vatican’s Congregation of Saints in the process of obtaining the title “venerable.” Her home in Canton continues to be a place of prayer and pilgrimage today.
Rhoda Wise is just one example of God’s healing power at work in the modern world. You can read more about contemporary saints through whom He has chosen to work in Nothing Short of a Miracle: God’s Healing Power in Modern Saints. Available right here at The Catholic Company!