St. Rose of Lima: First saint of the New World
Feast day: Thursday, Aug. 23
St. Rose, whose feast we celebrate on Aug. 23, is the first saint of the New World. She was born in Lima, Peru, on April 20, 1586, the daughter of a Puerto Rican father and a Peruvian mother.
Her given name was Isabel (Elizabeth), but she was such a beautiful baby that she was nicknamed Rose, and that name remained. In 1597 she formally took the name Rose when she was confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, Turibius de Mongrovejo, who was also to be declared a saint.
As she grew older, Rose became more and more beautiful. One day her mother put a wreath of flowers on her head to show off her loveliness to friends. But Rose had no desire to be admired, for she had already decided to consecrate her life to God. So she put a long pin into the wreath, and it pierced her so deeply that she had a hard time getting the wreath off afterward. Another time, she cut off her hair when someone admired it. She also became afraid that her beauty might be a temptation to someone, since people could not take their eyes off her, so she rubbed her face with pepper until it was all red and blistered.
Despite the censure of her parents, she spent many hours contemplating the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily. She was determined to take a vow of virginity, in opposition to her parents, who wished her to marry. Finally, out of frustration, her father gave her a room to herself in the family home.
She practiced very intense prayer and penance daily, sometimes depriving herself of food and sleep, in emulation of St. Catherine of Siena. She began to fast three times a week and performed severe penances in secret. Her days were filled with acts of charity and industry. Otherwise, she lived as a recluse, leaving her room only to go to church.
Rose worked hard to support her poor parents and she humbly obeyed them, except when they tried to get her to marry.
The fame of her holiness became so widespread among the people of Lima that she attracted the attention of the friars of the Dominican Order. She wanted to become a nun, but her father refused. Out of obedience to him, Rose entered the Third Order of St. Dominic instead, remaining in her parents' home. At 20 she donned the habit of tertiary and took the vow of perpetual virginity.
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. In fact, in her last long, painful sickness, this heroic young woman use to pray: "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart."
She was ill for the last three years of her life, and was cared for by a government official and his wife. She died, aged 31, on Aug. 24, 1617. Her funeral was held in the cathedral in Lima, attended by all the public authorities of the city, and the archbishop himself gave her eulogy.
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 honored.
Her shrine, alongside those of her friends, St. Martin de Porres and St. John Macias, is located inside the convent of St. Dominic in Lima.
St. Rose is the patroness of Latin America and Philippines. She is also the patroness of native Indian people of the Americas and their beneficence, of gardeners, of florists, of Lima, of Peru, of the New World, and of Sittard, the Netherlands, of India, of people misunderstood for their piety and of the resolution of family quarrels.
She is represented wearing a crown of roses.
— Sources: www.catholic.com, Catholic News Agency, Wikipedia
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FROM THE PASTORS
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