Saint Rose of Lima
Saint Rose of Lima
Feast Day: August 23
Patron of: Americas, Central America, Peru, Phillippines, South America, India, New World,
florists, gardeners, people ridiculed for their piety
Symbol: Holy Infant; roses; Dominican tertiery holding roses; Dominican tertiery accompanied by the Holy Infant
Even though Saint Rose of Lima was named Isabel De Flores Y Del Oliva at birth, everyone called her 'Rose' because her cheeks were so red. She was a beautiful baby and a beautiful child. Since most young women get married when they grow up, everyone was certain that a beauty like Rose would marry. Her parents, who were poor, hoped that she would marry a rich young man who could help look after Rose's family.
Rose had other plans. She disliked her beauty because it made people stare at her, and notice her. She didn't want to be admired and praised, she wanted all admiration and praise to go to Jesus. She loved Jesus very much, especially the Infant Jesus, and made a vow of chastity when she was young. So, while she loved her parents and always obeyed them, she refused their suggestions of marriage.
Instead, she moved into a small shack in the family garden and spent her time in prayer and fasting. Rose worked hard, growing flowers and doing embroidery and other needlework to support her family, but she also served the poor and sick in many ways. She had a great devotion and admiration for SaintCatherine of Siena, and modelled her life after that saint.
When she was twenty she became a Dominican Tertiary, taking vows of poverty. She suffered in many ways, both from her mortifications, ill health, and the ridicule of family and friends who didn't understand what she was doing. She died at the age of 31, and went to a richly earned reward in Heaven.
Saint Rose of Lima is the patroness of Latin America and the Philippines. Her real name was Isabel, but she was such a beautiful baby that she was called Rose. Some accounts of her life report that when she was still a baby, a mystical vision transformed her face into a rose.
Her parents were very proud of their beautiful daughter. One day, her mother put a wreath of flowers on her head to show off her loveliness to friends. But Rose did not want to be admired for her looks, for her heart had been given to Jesus. So she the wreath that enhanced her beauty turned it into an instrument of mortification by putting a long pin through it into her head. Another time worried that her beauty might be a temptation to someone, she rubbed her face with pepper until it was all red and blistered.
Saint Rose worked hard to support her poor parents and she humbly obeyed them, except when they tried to get her to marry. That she would not do. She had made a vow of chastity and promised her life to Christ. Her love of Jesus was so great that when she talked about Him, her face glowed and her eyes sparkled.
Rose had many temptations from the devil, and there were also many times when she had to suffer a feeling of terrible loneliness and sadness, for God seemed far away. Yet she cheerfully offered all these troubles to Him. She bore all these adversities with patience and consoled the sick and suffering among the poor, Indians and slaves. As a consequence, she is regarded as the originator of social service in Peru.
This saint, the first to be canonised in the Americas was born in 1586, in Lima, Peru. At the saint's confirmation in 1597 at the age of eleven, she took the name of Rose, because as an infant her face had been seen transformed by a mystical rose, and her red cheeks and beauty earned her the name Rose from an early age.
As a child she had a great reverence and pronounced love for God and all things relating to HIm. She was especially devoted to the Infant Jesus and His Blessed Mother before whose altar she spent hours. At a young age, she gave her life to prayer and mortification, practicing such acts as would turn her attention unfailingly to God. She was always obedient to her parents and worked hard, both at her studies and at her domestic work. She was especially skilled with her needle and eventually helped support the family by growing flowers and needlework.
When she read a biography of Saint Catherine she was inspired to take that saint as her model. She began by fasting three times a week.Then she added secret severe penances, and finally cut off her hair, adopted coarse clothing, and roughened her hands with toil. All this time she had to struggle against the objections of her friends, the ridicule of her family, and the censure of her parents. Daily reception of the Blessed Sacrament consoled her.
Finally she determined to take a vow of virginity. This presented still more trials and difficulties to the saint. She had to combat the opposition of her parents, who wished her to marry. She had to resist temptations which assaulted her faith, purity and patience. She endured long periods of desolation of spirit, which caused her to doubt her every decision. After ten long years, she won her parent's permission to remain unmarried, and to become a Dominican Tertiary. In her twentieth year she received the habit of Saint Dominic and upon the permission of her spiritual advisor, moved permentantly into a small grotto built in her parent's garden where she had often spent nights in prayer.
She increased her mortifications and sacrifices, continued to work to support the family and serve the poor in whatever way she could find. For fourteen years this martyrdom of her body continued without relaxation, but not without consolation. Our Lord revealed Himself to her frequently. At these times she offered to Him all her mortifications and penances in expiation for offences against Him, for the idolatry of her country, for the conversion of sinners, and for the souls in Purgatory. Many miracles followed her death.
She was beatified by Clement IX, in 1667, and canonized in 1671 by Clement X, the first American to be so honoured. Her feast is celebrated 23 August. She is represented wearing a crown of roses.
God, You filled Saint Rose with love for You and enabled her to leave the world and be free for You through the austerity of penance. Through her intercession, help us to follow her footsteps on earth and enjoy the torrent of Your delights in Heaven. Amen.
The illustration above and more information about Saint Rose of Lima can be found at the Saint Joseph's Patron Saint Index. Other sources used to this Saint's Profile are: The Catholic Encyclopedia and Catholic Online Saints and Angels.