Today on the Carthusian calendar is the feast of Saint Rosaline of Villeneuve. Saint Rosaline was born in 1263. She received the Sacrament of Confirmation from the Bishop of Fréjus, and when she did she became surrounded by a supernatural light. She was very young when she made a private vow of virginity.
At only age sixteen her desire was to be a Carthusian nun. Her aunt Jeanne Villeneuve was the Prioress of the Charterhouse of la Celle-Roubaud which was close to the castle where Rosaline lived – she was of southern French nobility. Since the Charterhouse was nearby, Rosaline was quite familiar with the Carthusian way of life. But her aunt’s Charterhouse had no novitiate, therefore, Rosaline entered Saint André de Ramires and was eventually moved to the Charterhouse at Bertaud in the French Alps which was the main Charterhouse for women. In the year 1280 she made her profession.
Her aunt at la Celle-Roubaud was becoming advanced in age, and so, the Superior General of the Carthusian Order permitted Rosaline to enter there and help her. In the year 1288 Rosaline received her virginal consecration. This consecration put her into ecstasy which lasted an entire day. She followed all the practices of her religious community but her soul was united to the Lord. She became very ascetic by sleeping very little and often eating only bread and water. She spent her nights in long hours of prayer and God granted her the gift of reading hearts. When her aunt had died, Rosaline was made Prioress of la Celle-Roubaud which she did for twenty-nine years.
Rosaline died at the age of sixty-six which led to many miracles through her intercession. In the year 1334, only five years after Rosaline’s death, by the order of Pope John XXII, a pope of the Avignon papacy, her tomb was opened. Her body was completely incorrupt. In 1602 her body was transferred from her crypt to a new chapel.
In 1857 Pope Pius IX authorized her feast for the entire Carthusian Order which is celebrated as a Solemnity by the nuns of the Order.
In art Saint Rosaline is often represented as having roses in her skirt. This is due to an event which occurred in her childhood: As a young child she developed a love for taking care of the poor. She would distribute goods to the poor from her family’s provisions. Someone of the household saw her doing this and alerted Rosaline’s father. One day she filled her skirt with bread to take to the poor only to be stopped by her father who asked her what she was carrying in her skirt. She told him they were roses. Extending her skirt by her father’s insistence, what was revealed were actually roses. This was considered a miracle and thus is often portrayed in works of art.
Lord God, for love of You Saint Rosaline trampled underfoot
the flattering allurements of the world, that she
might adhere only to You. Help us to follow her example
and, turning away from things of earth, find our joy in
sharing Your heavenly gifts.