Although this website is devoted to St Gemma Galgani, I could not let this day pass (May 11th) without honoring an American mystic and soul victim, Marie “Little Rose” Ferron.
Editors Note: I humbly submit this information on the life of Marie Rose Ferron with complete obedience to the authority of the Catholic Church, who alone has the power to judge the sanctity and holiness of individuals. Since Marie Rose Ferron has not thusfar been Beatified or Canonized, this information rests on human authority alone, and this writer humbly submits himself, without reserve, to the supreme authority and judgement of the Catholic Church.
Childhood of Little Rose Ferron
Marie Rose Ferron was born on May 24th, 1902 in St Germain de Grantham, Quebec, and was the tenth child of a family of fifteen children. When Rose was 4 ½ years old, her family moved to Fall River, Massachusetts, then on May 25, 1925 they moved once again to Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
The remarkable grace of the mysteries of the Rosary
The Ferrons were a pious Catholic family, and the mother, Delima Mathieu Ferron was of a rare virtue. At the beginning of her marriage, she offered to God through the Blessed Mother each child to be born, in honor of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. To Father Leonard, Rose once said:
"While I was gone in one of my dreams (for this is the name she gave to her ecstasies), I saw the Blessed Virgin Mary; She unrolled the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary; they were passing before me as She unrolled them, until the movement stopped at the fifteenth mystery. At the end, I read the name of my own mother. I understood that my mother had had fifteen children, in honor of the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
When Mrs. Ferron had her first child, while she was bearing it, she offered it in honor of the first mystery of the Rosary; she continued this practice, until all 15 of the mysteries were thus honored. (The Ferron's had a total of 15 children)
Her extraordinary devotion to St Anthony of Padua
In Father Onesime A Boyer’s excellent book “She Wears a Crown of Thorns” he writes:
"At the age of three, she had taken a particular liking for St. Anthony of Padua. If someone of the household lost something, she claimed the privilege of invoking her favorite Saint and with his help she always found that which was lost. She was very precocious, as regards intelligence and piety.
Her various illnesses
During her teenage years, Marie Rose became ill with a mysterious paralysis and painful contraction of the muscles in the legs, feet, arms and hands, and also an intestinal problem which rendered her practically unable to eat and she also contracted Tetanus (lockjaw) and Pyorrhea. Due to the progression of the paralysis in her legs, she was eventually completely bedridden.
Her spiritual director at the time, Father Gauthier, stated that although she wept often, she was never discouraged. This oblation did not reduce her sufferings nor the feeling of her misery, for they asserted themselves quite often at this time. Here is what Rose herself has to say about this time period:
In time, Marie Rose resigned herself to God's will, and she accepted sickness as her vocation and even rejoiced for having been chosen to suffer with Christ.
Scourging /Stigmata/Crown of Thorns
“In 1927, during Lent, Rose had the stigmata of the Scourging; they were the first ones to appear and the first ones to attract attention. On being asked by Father X, Rose showed me her arm. The outer arm was lacerated with red and purple stripes, about one-half inch in width. These stripes were swollen and quite close to each other. The arm looked as though it had been lashed with whips. Rose was asked if those welts were very sensitive. She answered that they were painful, like a burn. I asked her if her clothes adhered to her arm when they were oozing blood? ... "Yes," she answered, and added, "and it takes a long time to loosen them; I manage only a little at a time, the pain is intense, it is like pulling off the skin."
"Two days later, while Rose was unconscious, I saw on her hand a stigma of a different kind. I drew Father X's attention to it. There was a well outlined scar; it was one-half inch long and oval in form. The color was pink, rather than red. Mrs. Ferron opened her daughter's hand and the same mark appeared as on the opposite side. It was too evident, there was no room to doubt that we were in the presence of a stigma. Father X was equally surprised, for he too was seeing it for the first time. The mother offered to show us her other hand and her feet, on which she had seen the same marks that very morning, while she was dressing them. We refused, preferring to take her word, rather than see her remove the bandages adherring to the wounds which would only have increased Rose's sufferings. The next day, I called on Rose, she showed me her hands and asked me what I thought of them. Instead of answering her question, I prepared her for the opposition she would meet with. Knowing that stigmatized persons are always under suspicion, I could tell her with assurance, that those marks would be a source of misery to her and that she would be an object of contradiction. At that time, it never dawned on Rose that the veneration in which she would be held on account of her stigmata would challenge her humility, nor, that the storm of accusations would threaten to break the anchor of her hope. Pride and despair were the two vices which she had to conquer, and unto the very end she had to struggle to subdue them, for her friends and enemies followed her to the grave.”
Father Leonard of Montreal visits Rose with Father X and his assistant and writes:
"Friday, October 11, 1929, . .. We arrived at 2:30 P.M. When we walked into her room, we saw more than we expected to see. You would hardly know her. Yesterday, she was so beautiful; today, she is covered with blood, and it is streaming from her eyes and forehead. Rose was in ecstasy when we walked in, but she would recover and swoon back. While awake, she asked for the time and our blessing. It was evident, she suffered exceedingly and longed for the hour of deliverance; she asked for the time very often. While she was in ecstasy, we took occasion of examining the stigma of her side and those of her hands. There is no room to doubt; the reality is too evident. The stigmata of the hands appear on both sides and are streaming with blood. The wound of the side appears to be four inches long; but owing to the clothes, that were stuck over a part, we could not see it, in all its length. There were red blotches all over her body, as though it was bruised with blows, they all seemed to be discharging blood; her feet were distorted and one of them partly deformed.”
"I did not see the stigmata of her forehead, for they were hidden, by her head cloth, but the blood came streaming from beneath and ran down her cheeks, here and there. From her eyes, I saw the blood bubbling like water that boils, and I sponged it off with my handkerchief. The eyes were full of blood and her lashes were partly stuck together, which almost blinded her. On the right side of her neck, appeared another red blotch. There was also one below her throat, on the upper part of her chest. At every moment, she would ask for the time and for our blessing. It is already 2:45 P.M. Rose begins to tremble and moves her head from one side to another, her expression was that of pain and of anguish. The crucial moment is approaching. With a sign of her hand, she tells us to walk out. We leave, to come back a few minutes later. But then, she was gone into ecstasy. It is now about 3 P.M. The crucifixion is coming to an end. After a few minutes, she began to converse with her Jesus."
Father Boyer then goes on to document the stigmata wound of the heart, that is, a chest wound that appeared on the side of Marie Rose, and also another wound that often appeared on her shoulder.
Concerning the crown of thorns, her spiritual director Father O.A. Boyer continues-
“Towards the end of November, 1929, the writer was in Rose's room, waiting till she came out of ecstasy. There was a lady with us, who had been helping Mrs. Ferron to dress her. I was then told by the mother that Rose had a crown. "It is like two heavy cords," she said, "that encircle her head." The outlines of the crown were quite visible on Rose's bandage which she always wore tightly fitted to her forehead. I was offered to see them; but I refused, more to show her that I
On January 3, 1930, Father Leonard visited her. In his notebook, he tells us that the crown consisted of two branches well outlined, produced by heavy swelling of the flesh; they were an inch apart and intersected, over each stigma. When the stigma of the crown disappeared, one branch of it still remained, and although it was reduced in size, it was still very visible. After her death, a photograph was taken of Rose. An examination of the picture will give a good idea of what the crown looked like. The other branch, which was an inch away from the one which is visible, ran parallel to it, both crossing each other right above each stigma and then winding their way around the head. The fact that the branches of the crown appeared over a year after the thorn stigmata, and yet, were aligned with the latter in perfect symmetry is most remarkable. Out of that combination emerged a beautiful crown.”
Concerning suffering, she once said-
"Grind up all your sufferings in the mill of patience and silence; mix them with the balsam of the Passion of the Savior; make them into a small pill and swallow it with faith and love and with the fire of charity, digest it."
Marie Rose often went into ecstasies where she would be given heavenly visions of Jesus and
A unique aspect of the ecstacies of Marie Rose is that during her visions, Jesus would often ask her to sing hymns and poems to Him. During her ecstasies she would often be overhead singing such beautiful hymns and expressions of love such as:
"Oh Jesus, yes I love You, and I wish without a shadow To love You more than myself; oh Jesus, yes, I love you!
On one occasion in the month of May, she asked Jesus to help her sing to Mary. She said-
"Oh Mary, my sweet Mother, come to the help of your child. Protect also my little mother, through whom I have learned to love you. Keep us all close to you, oh Virgin Mother, bind us in the links of your Rosary.
Often she would be heard softly singing in an ecstacy to Jesus or Mary in the middle of the night.
It should be noted that Rose had a great devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist and also to the Blessed Mother and the rosary. She always kept a Rosary forever wrapped in her hands, as can be seen in the pictures of her. She once said “when I don’t have enough time to say a rosary, I simply say on each bead “My God, I love You!
Testimony of Dr. George H. Gendron D.M.D
In writing about Rose's fainting spells and her ecstasies, Dr. Gendron describes them from the standpoint of medicine, and calls them 'comatose', as most every doctor would. But then, he determines what kind of coma they were by adding; "She became ankylosed and she could no longer be lifted in that state." Let us now hear the Doctor speak for himself and tell us what he saw:
“During April and May, 1931, I was able to get an impression of Rose's mouth, under much difficulty; because, while working, she would lapse into a coma dozens of times, and she would then become ankylosed. I constructed for her a full upper denture. The day this denture was made, while I was making minor adjustments, Rose's mother walked into the pantry where I was working and as I held it in my hand, to her amazement and mine, an 'Ecce Homo,' in all its glory appeared in the vault of the denture. This was also witnessed by the father [Mr Jean-Baptiste Ferron]. All this occurred on May 14, 1931, at about 3 P.M. I then went to Rose's room at once and told her about it. After hearing me, she said: 'Don't mention what you saw.'"
"Later, on several occasions, up to the time of her death, I had to make further adjustments, and the 'Ecce Homo" still appeared. The face of the Lord appeared very sad, at all times, but the expression varied from time to time ... the halo, over the head, was very visible, brilliant and vibrating. My wife and Mrs. Ferron can verify the above. Rose told me, that at the time of her death, I could have the denture; when she died, however, several persons tried to remove it, but to no avail.
"I have seen Rose many times, in fact, I was quite a frequent visitor. Besides seeing her in a coma, with her eyes upwards, I also observed the stigmata of her forehead and those of her hands.
"When in a coma, her mother and I observed what a tremendous dead weight she was! Many attempts were made to lift her head from her pillow; the head was so heavy that neither I, nor anyone else was ever able to lift it, no matter how much strength we used.
"When I called on Rose, I naturally tried to console her in her trying moments; I never could understand how so much suffering could be endured, if she hadn't had the Lord with her at all times."
When Rose was yet but seven years of age, Jesus taught her the following prayer, which she said daily, without fail.
"Oh Lord Jesus, when I reflect upon the words which Thou hast uttered: 'Many are called, but few are chosen,' I fear and tremble for those I love, and I beg You to look upon them with mercy; and behold, with an infinite tenderness, You have placed their salvation in my hands, for everything is assured to him who knows how to suffer with Thee, and for Thee.
My heart bleeds under the weight of suffering, but my will remains united to Thine, and I cry out to You: 'Lord it is for them that I want to suffer .... I wish to mingle my tears with Thy Precious Blood for the salvation of those I love! You will not turn a deaf ear to my sorrowful cry .... and You will save them.' "
Once she told of a vision of the Child Jesus: "I saw Him," she said, "with a cross, he was looking at me with grief in his eyes." Years after this vision, some one gave her a statue which she recognized as the very figure she had seen .... "Have you remarked," she once said to Father Leonard, "the statue of the Child Jesus carrying his cross? ... I see Him often as he is here represented. I speak to Him and He speaks to me; this statue however, is but a poor representation of what I actually see."
In 1929, seven years before her death, Jesus informed Rose in an ecstacy that, like Him, she would die at the age of 33. Father Boyer happened to be there at that moment, along with a few others, and they were of course very surprised at this revelation. He noted the date of the ecstasy and later wrote about it in his book.
After her death, many miracles were attributed to her intercession. Many of these miracles are documented in the books below. Also, many people have documented the smell of roses while praying to Marie Rose. They attribute this as a sign of her heavenly presence.
Taken from the excellent book “She Wears a Crown of Thorns” by one of her spiritual directors, Father O.A. Boyer and also “A Stigmatist Marie Rose Ferron” by Jeanne Savard Bonin.
All the works of God are persecuted and the Saints along with them. In fact, the Church considers persucution in the life of a Saint to be a sign of authenticity and one of the hallmarks of holiness. And, history shows us that the mystics in the Church are normally persecuted even moreso. (cf. Sts. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and in our time S. Pio for example).
In the life of Marie Rose Ferron we read that there were 3 persons who intitally befriended her, but sadly turned against her and her family and falsely accused her of the most ridiculous things, such as eating steak dinners with her parents in the middle of the night and walking about the town late at night, when several physicians, nurses and others attending her have formally testified that Rose was a parapalegic, confined to her bed in her late teens, with severly clubbed and contorted feet.
The most unfortunate thing however, was that there were a number of people, including the local Bishop(s), who apparently believed such nonsense, when literally dozens of people (judging by my readings, I would say close to 50) who knew Rose personally have testified otherwise. While it is not surprising that a victim soul like Marie Rose Ferron would have 3 persons turn against her (after all Jesus had Judas, and the disciple is not above the Master) what is surprising is that perhaps several past Bishops of the Catholic Church would not see through such a ruse for what it is.
In the judicial system, there is a common method or standard for determinig the probable authenticity or truth of a matter; it is called the "proponderence of the evidence". So we have on the one hand the ridiculously slanderous statements of 3 individuals, accusing Rose of eating steak dinners and walking about the town of Woonsocket in the middle of the night, and poking herself with pins to "create" the stigmata, versus the hundereds of eyewitnesses, including Physicians, Priests etc. in the 3 books I have mentioned above concerning her virtuous life.
As the local and regional newspapers state, there were and estimated 15,000 people who attended her funeral rites. Were these people perhaps all decieved? Were her parents and all her sisters and brothers decieved? Were all the friends of her family decieved? The brothers and sisters in law, the Doctors, her Dentist, other caretakers, the countless visitors who came from all over the Northeast to share their sorrows and concerns with this "Little Rose"... all these were decieved? The overwhelming propondrence of the evidence is in favor of her life lived in sacrifice and suffering out of love for God and souls.
Rev. Onesime A Boyer S.T.L. and Rev. John Baptist Palm S.J.
Click here for Part 2 of this article, Marie Rose Ferron, American Mystic and Stigmatist
"...My heart bleeds under the weight of suffering, but my will remains united to Thine, and I cry out to Thee: Lord it is for them that I want to suffer .... I wish to mingle my tears with Thy Precious Blood for the salvation of those I love!..."