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St. Rose of Lima

Saint Rose of Lima OPFeast day: 23rd of August

Lay Dominican and Virgin, Memorial

Isabella Flores, commonly known as Rose, was born in Lima, Peru, in 1586, and became the first canonized saint of the Western Hemisphere. She made a vow of virginity at an early age and only with great difficulty overcame the objections and misunderstanding of her family to her way of life. At the age of twenty she became a Dominican Tertiary and lived in a hermitage which she had set up in her family’s garden. She practiced severe penances for the salvation of sinners and for the missionary efforts of the Church in the Indies. Her great love for Christ manifested itself by her care of and concern for the poor and sick. She had a special devotion to Christ in the Eucharist and to Mary, the Mother of God. Her desire to teach others the secret of prayer made her a zealous promoter of the Rosary. She died at Lima on August 24, 1617.

The second reading taken from the supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers:

 From the process of canonization of Saint Rose of Lima.

“Saint Rose was a true disciple of our Holy Father Dominic.”

In all things Rose of Saint Mary found an occasion to praise the Creator. In her every thought she found a way to lift her mind to God and she also wished to teach others the secret of prayer. By reading good spiritual authors she fed her own soul and made their spiritual writings known to others, encouraging priests to attract their penitents and listeners to a love of prayer, whatever their tasks might be. Truly remarkable was her devotion to Mary’s Rosary which blends mental and vocal prayer; she thought Christians should pray the Rosary aloud while keeping it also deeply fixed in their hearts.

The anguish she experienced at the thought of evil and sin was overcome by the sweetness which the love of God caused her to experience in prayer. She was deeply disturbed by those who made charges against the Church. At such times her zeal was enkindled and she did not spare her words, although she knew how to temper her reproof with kinds and persuasive pleas. Many were amazed that the young girl said nothing to those who made charges against her personally, but quickly resisted the slightest offense against God.

The love of Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist was of utmost importance in her life; on days when she solemnly adored the Blessed Sacrament, she remained motionless in prayer for many hours.

Rose was saddened at the thought of souls not enjoying the gift of faith, especially those in many parts of the Americas who were caught up in the worship of false idols. Overcome with compassion, she constantly thought of them and wanted to overturn all obstacles and fly, as it were, with the wings of the soul to enlighten and bring them to salvation. She would have liked to make of herself a rock and a barrier to keep the door to hell closed.

When she spoke with religious under vows, especially the Friars Preachers, she forcefully exhorted them with earnest words pouring forth from the love in her heart to work with all their mind and all their strength for the conversion of souls. It distressed her that they spent many hours in speculative study; she said she preferred that the toil, the sleepless hours, the labor and the difficulties needed for acquiring such learning be given to stirring up the will to love of God.

She grieved that, as a woman, she was not allowed to devote herself, as she greatly longed to do, to the apostolic work of preaching the gospel to infidels. To enable her confessor to take up this holy work she offered to forego half of his services so as to have a share in the fruits of his apostolate. She even thought about taking in and rearing an abandoned little boy and she would have done this had death not prevented it. She had hoped to support this child with her own means and the alms of others that by God’s grace he might receive sacred orders and dedicate himself to the spread of the faith among the infidels.


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