Saint of the Week: St. Rose of Lima
“Without the burden of afflictions, it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gift of grace increases as the struggles increase.”
FEAST DAY: August 23
PATRON SAINT against vanity, of embroiderers, gardeners, florists, people ridiculed for their piety, South America, Peru, and Philippines
Rose was born at a time when South America was in its first century of evangelization. Half a century before her birth, Peru had just been discovered and seized by an explorer from Spain whose main aim was to implant Christianity there. Born in Lima, Peru to parents of Spanish descent, Rose was initially named Isabel. She was baptized with this name; but, by the time she was confirmed, her mother had already changed her name to Rose as a tribute to her beauty. On the other hand, Rose was determined to weed out anything and everything that might endanger her loving relationship with God — including the temptation of vanity. On one occasion, after hearing someone praise her beauty, she rubbed pepper on her face to produce blemishes. This may sound crazy to us, but this shows how far this young woman was willing to go out of great love for God. She chose St. Catherine of Siena as her role model despite objections and ridicule from family and friends.
When her parents fell into financial trouble, Rose helped out by selling items she embroidered and the flowers she grew in their garden. Her parents urged her to marry, but she refused; instead, she joined the Third Dominican Order and took a vow of perpetual virginity. She built a prayer hut for herself in the backyard, and would often undergo unusual penances like wearing a silver band on her head with studs on the inside in memory of Jesus’ crown of thorns.
During the last few years of her life, Rose set up a room in the house as a free medical clinic for homeless children, the elderly, and the sick. This was the beginning of social services in Peru. Later on, she became very sickly and died at 31. Her funeral was attended by the whole city.
PRAYER TO ST. ROSE OF LIMA
Admirable Saint Rose, you were truly a sweet flower blooming on a rugged soil; you were indeed a rose among thorns, bearing with meekness and patience the stings of envious tongues, and preserving perfect purity and modesty amid the alluring blandishments of a deceitful world. To the sufferings inflicted on you by others you added the voluntary tortures of fasting and watching, of the discipline, of the crown of thorns and of the hair shirt, to subdue the flesh and to make yourself like to your heavenly Spouse. By the merits which you have thus gained with your divine Bridegroom, obtain for me the grace to bear my afflictions with patience, to remain pure and modest, to be meek and humble, to be faithful to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and so to mortify my passions that I may be ever more pleasing and acceptable in the sight of my dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.