CANTON, Ohio -- Mother Angelica was known to millions of viewers as the keen-witted, straight-talking Catholic nun, but in Canton, Ohio, she’s remembered as a local girl who grew up to make their city proud.
Born Rita Rizzo on April 20, 1923, she was by all accounts a kind-hearted Italian-American girl. At the age of 19, she experienced debilitating pain caused by a stomach ailment.
At the time, another Canton woman was garnering attention after reportedly being miraculously healed inside her “depression-era shack” at 2337 25th St. NE after doctors sent her home to die.
Before the discovery of antibiotics, Rhoda Wise was inexplicably cured, of a massive infection following the removal the removal of a 39-pound abdominal tumor. She also experienced a condition called “stigmata” where bleeding on the body occurs corresponding with the wounds Jesus suffered on the cross.
Rhoda said Jesus and St. Theresa visited and healed her.
Word spread and people began to gather outside the home including Rita Rizzo’s mother, Mae Rizzo, who witnessed the manifestation of a brilliant, blinding light glowing from inside the shack despite no real electricity.
Rhoda gave Rita a novena to pray and 9 days after visiting the home she was cured, according to Karen Sigler, who is now the house’s caretaker and General Manager.
“And that cure led to her vocation,” said Sigler.
She became an American Franciscan nun and in 1981, with very little money, started EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network.
Mother Angelica never forgot her roots or Rhoda Wise who passed away in 1948, but is currently being considered and investigated by the church for sainthood.
The Rhoda Wise House is a non-profit 501c3 location which remains free and open to the public, with continuous reports of miraculous healings each year.
Karen Sigler says she was saddened to learn of Mother Angelica’s passing but also happy for her soul’s journey to God.
She hopes people will continue to think of Mother Angelica fondly and remember her lessons of faith, hope and love.
“She was the first and only person that when I looked at her... I could see Jesus in her eyes,” said Sigler.
In 2010, a portion of Market Ave was named after Mother Angelica between 30th St NW and 44th St NW.
You can see where it all began by taking a very special Mother Angelica bus tour.
**For more information click here**