Rose of Lima, St.

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Patron of Peru; b. Lima, Peru, April 20, 1586; d. there, Aug. 24, 1617. She was the daughter of a conquistador from Puerto Rico, Gaspar de Flores, who had arrived in Peru in 1548, and the young María de Oliva. She was baptized Isabel de Flores, May 25, 1586, the Feast of Pentecost. The maid in the house, startled by the extraordinary beauty of the baby, exclaimed that she looked like a rose. The mother agreed and ordered that the child should be called Rose, despite the baptismal name. She was confirmed with this name by Abp. (St.) Toribio de mogrovejo when she was 14. Later, because of the special role the Virgin Mary played in her life, she took the name Rosa de Santa María.

Rose took as her model St. catherine of siena. While still a child she undertook fasts and other mortifications. She wished to enter a cloister, but denied this, she remained at home, contributing to the support of the family by selling the flowers she grew with such success. When she was 20, she found an answer to her desire for some solitude even within the family by joining the Third Order of St. Dominic. She chose to wear the habit from then on. Under the veil she wore a crown of thorns, but over it a crown of roses to please her mother. Rose lived a secluded life, spending as much time as she could in the hermitage she had built in the garden as a child. In one room of the house she set up a little infirmary where she cared for destitute children and infirm elderly people. This work was a beginning of social service in Peru. Her activities, secluded though they were, were brought to the attention of the Inquisition. Interrogators could only announce that she was directed by "impulses of grace." She had great mystical gifts, though she did not have the gift of writing about her experiences. The people of Lima believed that she saved them from pirates. She was widely known and beloved by rich and poor in Lima. At her death, which she had prophesied exactly, it was impossible to hold the funeral for several days because of the crowds, and finally the body was buried privately in the cloister of St. Dominic's Church as she had requested. The body was later moved into the church and is now buried under an altar in the crypt. The cause for her canonization was presented in Rome, July 1634. On March 12, 1668, clement ix decreed her beatification. She was canonized April 12, 1671, by clement x and proclaimed patron of Peru, all of America, the Indies, and the Philippines.

Feast: Aug. 23.

Bibliography: r. vargas ugarte, Vida de Santa Rosa de Santa María (2d ed. Lima 1951). f. p. keyes, The Rose and the Lily (New York 1961). l. millones, Una partecita del cielo (Lima 1993). j. f. araoz et al., Santa Rosa de Lima y su tiempo (Lima 1995). l. m. glave testino, De Rosa y espinas (Lima 1998).

[j. m. vargas]