Santa Rosa of Viterbo: the mistery of her heart
This article is the result of a collaboration between a pediatric cardiologist and a historian, whose common interest in Rosa, whose life was witnessed in the first half of the thirteenth century in Viterbo, and in whose city there is still held the annual celebration in her honour featuring the celebrated “macchina”. Santa Rosa’s body has been the focus of a persistent devotion, and it is preserved entire in the Monastery of Clarisse. Analysis of her body has enabled the identification of a congenital malformation of her chest and heart, which has led us to change our interpretation of Santa Rosa’s life. This new finding brought the authors to reexamine the historical sources in order to gain a new outlook on her life and search for a relationship between physical illness and spiritual experience, allowing her illness to emerge as a defining element in the spiritual life of Santa Rosa.