Just who was Isabella de Flores; also known as Saint Rose of Lima? Take a journey with this first canonized saint of of the New World as we reflect on her life and her role as Patroness of Peru, the Americas, and the Philippine Islands.
May the prayers of St. Rose of Lima assist you and your loved ones in your time of need.
God Bless You!
Fr. John Dolan
St. Rose of Lima Parish
Chula Vista, CA
The Archdiocese of Lima Peru posted a new website on August 31, 2010 to honor St. Rose of Lima, the patroness of their diocese. Here is what they have to say ...
Patrona de las Américas, Indias y Filipinas
Presentamos una selección de datos de las mejores fuentes sobre la vida y legado espiritual de Santa Rosa de Lima, cuyo testimonio constituye un ejemplo para vivir la santidad en la vida ordinaria. Queremos ofrecerle la mejor información sobre ella. Esperamos que este lugar sea de vuestro agrado.
Exhortación Apostólica Postsinodal Ecclesia in America , n.15
América ha visto florecer los frutos de la santidad desde los comienzos de su evangelización. Este es el caso de Santa Rosa de Lima (1586-1617), « la primera flor de santidad en el Nuevo Mundo »... Después de ella, el santoral americano se ha ido incrementando hasta alcanzar su amplitud actual. La Iglesia, al canonizarlos, ve en ellos a poderosos intercesores unidos a Jesucristo, sumo y eterno Sacerdote, mediador entre Dios y los hombres... acompañan con solicitud fraterna a los hombres y mujeres de su tierra que, entre gozos y sufrimientos, caminan hacia el encuentro definitivo con el Señor. Para fomentar cada vez más su imitación y para que los fieles recurran de una manera más frecuente y fructuosa a su intercesión, considero muy oportuna la propuesta de los Padres sinodales de preparar « una colección de breves biografías de los Santos y Beatos americanos. Esto puede iluminar y estimular en América la respuesta a la vocación universal a la santidad ».
Isabella received the name of “Rose of Saint Mary” by her Lord in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary at the church of Santo Domingo. By that time she already had a relationship with the Lord. When she was just five years old, she attempted to imitate the holiness of St. Catherine of Sienna and had personally consecrated her virginity to God by vow, promising henceforth to live only for the accomplishment of His holy Will.
Rose was more than a disciple for the Lord. We always remain as Christian disciples of the Lord, but as we grow in holiness, we realize that we are more than just students. We become more aware of what it means to have a share in the Body of Christ - As Christ has a share in our humanity, we have a share in his divinity. As Saints Peter and Paul remind us: “[The Lord] has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4) and “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ,” (Gal 3:27) and again “For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily, and you share in this fullness in him, who is the head of every principality and power.” (Col 2:9-10)
Rose was more than just a disciple. She was fully united to Him. At the age of twelve, she had already reached the highest degree of prayer, which mystic writers call the prayer of union. Whether awake or sleep she was one with God. While she was working in the yard or helping her mother at home, she continued to have an inner conversation with God.
Retreating into her little cell – her hermitage, Rose prayed the 149 names of God over and over again. This exercise would quickly bring her to that state of complete joy. “If you abide in my love,” says the Lord, “my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete.” In this prayer cell, Rose would utter the Holy Name of Jesus and soon find the Divine Spouse with her. Before her eyes, she would see the Divine Infant, her “Little Doctor,” who would offer her comfort.
Her greatest love was to receive her Lord in the Eucharist, often fasting for more than a day before she received her Lord. She authored a prayer and would recite it often within her heart, especially after she received communion:
Adorable Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, our Creator and our Redeemer, I grieve from the bottom of my heart for having so often offended Thee, because Thou art He Who is, and because I love You above all things. O true God, the betrothed of my soul, most amiable Jesus, my adorable consoler, I desire to love Thee with that perfect, complete, sincere, incomparable, invincible, and eternal love wherewith the Blessed in Heaven love Thee! Yes, O God of my heart, joy of my soul, I desire to love Thee as much as Thou art loved by Thy Mother, blessed among all women, my Mother and Lady, the most pure Virgin Mary. I would gladly love Thee as Thou lovest Thyself, my Lord and my God, my salvation and my happiness. O my most adorable Jesus, grant that I may be consumed and melted in the furnace of Thy most ardent charity!
Following this prayer, Rose would go into a state of ecstasy. On one occasion, Rose fell into this rare spiritual state of oneness with her Divine Spouse and received a revelation that she was to take the Habit of the Third Order of St. Dominic. Shortly thereafter, she received a message from her Lord, “Rose of My Heart, be thou My Spouse.”
In addition to knowing and loving the Lord, Saint Rose was devoted to serving the Lord. She beheld her Divine Spouse in the suffering poor she served. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, so you do unto me,” says the Lord. In the manner of St. Dominic, preacher to the poor and to lost souls, Rose used her acts of charity to bring the people of Lima closer to the Lord.
Rose underwent great torment in her own life. Her health was always delicate, but she would rather die than complain. Instead, she knew that the cross she carried brought her closer Jesus. She would pray, “O Lord, increase my sufferings, but increase also Your love in my heart.” On one occasion, her Lord responded:
“Affliction is always the companion of grace. Grace can only be attained by suffering; Divine consolations are distributed in the same portion as sufferings; let everyone understand this. Let no one deceive themselves. The way of the cross is the only path which leads to Heaven. Earthly sorrows are the roots of heavenly joys.”
More illnesses were placed upon the patient Spouse of the Lord. The last sickness that overtook her paralyzed her right arm. She was in great agony, but she would have it no other way. If her Divine Spouse died on the cross, she would not be spared the same pain. When her mother placed a pillow under her head, Rose cried, “Take away the pillow so that, like Jesus, I may die resting my head upon wood.”
After receiving Last Rites – Confession, Anointing, and Communion – and like the wise virgins of scripture awaiting with lighted lamp the return of the bridegroom, Rose asked for a blessed candle. After receiving it, she uttered her last words were, “Jesus, Jesus, be with me.” At the age of thirty-one, August 24th, 1617, the Bridegroom came to meet her.
As was the case for Catherine of Sienna, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or John Paul II, Rose was declared a Saint immediately by the world around her. However, she was not officially canonized until August 30th, 1671 by Clement X.
This child of Divine Love was the first Saint of the New World. She is the patroness of Peru, the Americas, the Philippine Islands and countless dioceses and parishes throughout the world.
Rose, Spouse of Jesus,
Pray that I may learn to love the Lord and become one with Him.
May your life inspire me to abide in His love and come to that complete joy
That you gained in your time on earth.
Finally, pray that I may Lord may come to me in my hour of death and
bring me to Heaven where you live with Mary and all the Saints, in union with Christ,
Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
According to one legend, saying this blessing originates with the belief that a person's heart stops for a fraction of a second during a sneeze. Even though that old wives' tale won't help cure the cold or allergy that caused the sneeze, people continue to say it. It's a kind gesture and a simple prayer for the person in their moment of ill-health.
Visiting the sick, one of the Corporal Works of Mercy, can be done through prayer. How many times do we pray for the sick; especially at Mass?
Saint Rose not only tended to the sick, she prayed for them unceasingly. Her infirmary within her parent's home offered great support to the women of Lima. Not wanting to be a social worker, however, Rose made sure that her support for her patients was directed toward prayer and a closer union with her Lord. She said, "Prayer is the great pharmacy where we can find the medicine for all our ills."
Pope John Paul II once wrote in an address to the sick and suffering, "You who are weighed down by suffering are in the front line of those beloved by God." Rose of Lima understood that by visiting the sick she would find those who were closest to God. How is it that the sick are closest to God when it appears as though God has abandoned them in their illness?
The answer is found in the cross. By suffering, dying, and rising, the Lord gave the mystery of human suffering and death a profound and salvific meaning. We are all called to imitate Christ - to be living icons of Jesus the Lord. In sickness and death, we most closely reflect the Lord who suffered and died for us. This is why Rose had her infirmary. She saw her Lord in the sick and suffering.
Rose would not pass up the opportunity to teach her guests in the infirmary about the Lord. When her patients would give her praise for her works of mercy, she would point to a statue of the child Jesus which she had set in the window. She would say, "There is your divine physician. Give him the praise. I am just an instrument."
The statue of the child Jesus was a gift to Rose from one of her wealthy benefactors. Rose kept it in the infirmity and referred to it as her "little Doctor." As she cared for her patients, she would keep her eyes fixed on the image and utter her 149 names of the Lord. This mantra and contemplation of her Lord helped her to overcome the tremendous smells of the cancerous patients she served.
Rose was a pioneer in her zeal to help all women living on the streets. The Spanish would not care for the African, Indians, or Meztizos. Rose cared for them all; Not because she was partly quechua herself (on her mother's side), but because her heart knew no boundaries. How could it? This woman, who so loved the Lord, knew that in Him "there is no Jew, or Greek, slave, or free." In God's eyes, all are the same.
Prayer: Rose of the Sick, Your love for those you served in your infirmary was a love for Christ himself. Teach me to see my Lord in the sick and in my own sufferings. Help me to see that all suffering, all crosses, even death itself can lead me to know Christ.
Lord Jesus, bless me in my moment of suffering and at the hour of death. Amen.
The early church was commissioned by Christ to preach the good news that anyone who would come to him “For if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Faith in the heart leads to justification, confession on the lips to salvation.” (Romans 10)
The word fides in Latin and translated from Greek can mean “faith” or “fidelity.” True faith is not just an intellectual activity. The church defines faith as a full submission of intellect and will to God through Jesus. (Catechism, 143) It means being faithful to God. “For faith without works is dead.” (James 2)
If a husband were to ask his wife, “Do you believe in me?” He isn’t asking, “Do you believe that I exist.” The proper response to his question would be, “Yes. I believe in you”, or “I put my faith in you,” or “I would lay down my life for you.”
For many, a confession of faith in Jesus is the first step toward a long journey with Jesus. However, the journey demands taking up our cross each day and following Jesus. Faith is both a singular conversion to Jesus and a life long embrace of his mission.
St. Rose had more than an intellectual faith that Jesus was her Savior. She submitted her will to her Lord each and every day. She bore her cross, she endured ridicule, she prayed without ceasing. She did this because she was faithful to the Lord who was faithful to her.
There were times when her faith was put to the test. For example, like many mystics and contemplatives, St. Rose had a “dark night of the soul.” Like, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Terese of Lesiux, she would not experience the presence of God for years. This caused her great pain; but, like the prophet Job, she remained faithful.
On another occasion, St. Rose was nearly martyred for her fidelity to the Lord. When she was just 20 years old, and after her profession as a Third Order Dominican she participated in a tremendous miracle. It so happened that Dutch pirates invaded Lima’s harbor and defeated the Peruvian fleet. Due to the Reformation, they intended not only to loot the city but also to desecrate churches. The women, children and religious of Lima took refuge in the churches. In the church of Santo Domingo, Rose stirred them all to prayer. It is said that as pirates burst into the church, they were confronted with the terrifying spectacle of a young girl ablaze with light, holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. They turned away and fled to their ships which sailed away.
Rose placed absolute faith in Jesus. On many occasions, when there wasn’t food or clothing to care for the poor, she would offer a prayer of faith to the Lord. She would not ask the Lord for favor. She simply thanked the Lord in prayer, knowing that her Savior would provide for their needs. Her prayer of thanksgiving came from a list of 149 names of God found in the Bible. Upon her request, her friend and priest, Father Juan de Lorenzana went through the entire Bible and found all of the names that referred to God. She prayed this prayer many times per day from memory.
St. Rose placed her trust in the Lord that her own family would have food enough to eat. There is the story of her brother who wanted honey for his dry bread and, after returning from the pantry, began to cry, “We have no honey, no more bread, no food.” The family was poor. Rose told her brother to look again, “There is food in the pantry”. He remarked, “The pantry is dry.” Rose went to the pantry, said a prayer, returned and said, “It’s full.” Indeed, it was and from that time on, the family was never wanting.
Rose was ridiculed by neighbors, disowned by her family, and nearly even condemned by members of the Church who assumed that her miracles were of the devil. Jesus was once accused of the same thing when he expelled demons and cured the sick. Nevertheless, St. Rose remained with her Lord and carried her cross as a faithful servant.
Rose of Fidelity,
Pray that I may not fear abandoning myself to the Lord.
If I am ridiculed for my faith in Jesus, or mocked because of my prayerful ways,
I will look to your life as an inspiration to grow deeper in Christ.
Help me to put my trust in the Lord at all times. Pray that I may never grow weary when
my cross seems too much to bear.
Lord Jesus, I love you with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my strength. Amen.
I was reminded by a viewer that day five comes after day four. Please forgive the wrong date yestreday. However, the content was correct, the title, "Day Five" was wrong. Yesterday was Rose of Compassion - Day Four.
Asceticism is the practice of voluntary self-discipline in order to achieve a higher or spiritual ideal. From the Greek askein, which means "to practice an art or skill," this term referred to the exercises of athletes. The various Greek philosophical schools used asceticism as a system of moral practices to free men of vices. Plato, for example, viewed asceticism as a means to free the soul.
History shows that ascetic lifestyles have appeared in both religious and secular settings. For example, ancient Hebrew sects fasted in order to become Holy, early Greeks undertook a regimen of severe physical discipline to prepare for battle, and Stoic philosophers disciplined their will against a life of sensual pleasure to achieve spiritual goals. Christian monks eschewed the comforts of the world for the solitude of the desert. Following the Reformation, Puritans endured the hardwood pews of freezing New England meeting halls.
Monks, yogis, rabbis and priests also lead ascetic lives. Lao Zi, Buddha, Mahavir Swami, Saint Anthony, and Saint Francis can all be considered ascetics. These people left their families, possessions, and homes to live a mendicant life, and in the eyes of their followers demonstrated great spiritual attainment, enlightenment, or God realization.
The ascetic way of life reached the New World and the young Rose of Saint Mary enjoyed this harsh form of spirituality. She endured many hardships, mostly voluntary, for the sake of her oneness with Jesus.
As mentioned, Rose lived virtually as a recluse within her little oratory in the family garden.
She often wore on her head a silver crown with sharp points, in memory of the Lord's crown of thorns. After some protest, she agreed to wear on top of the thorns a crown of roses.
Other forms of penitence which she inflicted on her body were floggings, administered three times daily, the wearing of a hair shirt, and the dragging of a heavy, wooden cross about the garden. She rubbed her lips with gall and often chewed bitter herbs to deaden the sense of taste. Both eating and sleeping were reduced to a minimum.
If this way of life is hard for us to imagine, it also offended her family, who preferred their daughter to follow the more conventional and accepted ways of holiness. But, for Rose, these practices helped her subdue her lower instincts - to survive in this world – and to long for God and the world to come. Saint Paul - who endured many hardships for the sake of the Gospel - proclaimed, “I live in this world, but I am not of this world,” and again, “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,” and still again, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
Prayer: Rose of the Cross, You set your heart on treasures not from this world But from the Kingdom of God. You knew that this world was a place of passage And that even the cross, as real as it may seem, Could not compare with the glory of eternal life in heaven. By embracing the cross, you embraced our Lord.
By embracing Jesus, you became Christ for those around you.
Pray for me, that I may learn to endure my daily crosses in life And learn to embrace them So that I may come to know Jesus more and more each day. Amen.
If we want to see an example of how love begets love, we ought to look to Rose of Saint Mary. Rose was a lover of God. No one could deny this. But, her love, like a cup running over, poured out on God’s people. She took to heart the words, “The one who says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20-21)
As a child, this ascetic would carry out her domestic duties and surpass her mother’s expectations. Her mother never had to call on her to complete her chores. In fact, Rose would often take it upon herself, as a sort of spiritual cross, to finish the household duties of her older brother. Work never bothered Rose. In fact, the more work placed upon her shoulders, the better. It was her cross. Selfless giving, without expectation of return, was her way of the cross. Of course, she preferred her solitary moments, but if Rose could work and befriend Jesus at the same time, she was happy.
Rose was a charitable person outside of the home, as well. Mariana, the servant girl for the Flores family, taught Rose about the indigenousness plants and herbs that were used for healing. Many of these herbs are used even today by the Quechua people and most hospitals in Peru have gardens with these plants; partly because they work and partly because today’s doctors know that many of the Quechua people will only take western medicine if they are first prescribed traditional remedies. Soon, Rose saw this as an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the poor.
Rose had an ulterior motive for helping the poor. She had a tremendous love for the native people of Peru and had a desire to teach them about the Lord. She lived in the day of the Spanish Inquisition and, like the rest of the Christian world of her day, assumed that only those who were converted to Christ would be saved. She was not in favor of the inquisition. Neither was her father, who taught her to be cautious of the clergy in Lima. He would point out to her the priests who were pastoral and those who were sent by Spain to chastise the unbelievers. It should be noted that the majority of those who were on trial by the Office of the inquisition were clergy themselves. Certainly, Muslims and Jews in Europe, as well as natives in the New World were tried, but the majority of those who were condemned were Christian “apostates” and “heretics”, most of whom where Catholic clergy.
Rather than attempting to find spiritual fault with the Quechua people living in Lima, Rose had a longing to bring them to Jesus. She did want them to be saved, not out of fear, but with the love of Christ. To bring this message of Jesus to the people, she would offer them the medicines grown in her garden. Rose saw this as an opportunity to heal body and soul.
Before long, Rose would give everything she had to the poor. Indeed, she would fast for days without food, knowing that what she could have consumed would be shared with others. After an appeal from her mother, the priest confessor urged Rose to avoid fasting too long. Rose obeyed, and tempered her fasting.
One day, when Rose had nothing to give, she took a cloak, belonging to her mother, and gave it to a poor woman to clothe her children. Maria became indignant, but Rose assured her that Maria would receive in return from the Lord more than the coat was worth. Within a week, a stranger came to the door and gave Maria fifty pieces of money, Dame Mary of Sala gave her material for another cloak, and the Dominicans gave her more yards of fabric than she knew what do with.
On another occasion, Rose reached out to a cancer victim. This young orphan woman had no place to stay and was left to die. Rose quietly found a room for the woman, paid for by Rose herself, and nursed her back to health. How her health was restored was nothing short of miraculous. It was miraculous enough to gain the attention of Maria who allowed Rose to open up a small infirmary in the family home. Rose spent her days caring for the women and young girls living in the streets of Lima. If she wasn’t caring for them at home, she would make regular visits to the hospital.
With every patient, Rose would pray to Jesus, the Divine Physician. In her words, “Prayer is the great pharmacy where we can find the medicine for all our ills.” Many miracles are attributed to the prayers of this great saint.
Your love for Jesus overflowed and filled the little town of Lima, Peru. Your compassion for the poor and needy is a reflection of your love for God. The answer to your prayers for the poor is a reflection of God’s love for you.
Pray for the people in your homeland still living in poverty. Patron Saint of the Americas and the Philippines, pray for those living on the streets. Pray too for me that my love for Jesus may be expressed in my love for the poor.
Jesus, friend of the poor and healer of the sick, help me to serve your people and reflect on your words, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”
For Christians, the tradition of hermits dates back to the third and fourth centuries when St. Jerome, St. Anthony, and thousands like them fled the towns for the desolation of the Middle Eastern desert. These Desert Fathers fasted and prayed with God alone. They believed that only solitude would help them see heaven. However, like the crowds who would find Jesus when he would slip away to pray, people would come from all over to see these ascetics. Pilgrims would hear absolute pearls of wisdom uttered by these hermits. The Church, and contemplative monks and nuns in the world today, continue to treasure their legacy.
The cloistered life is similar. While hermits live a solitary life, nuns and monks living in cloister also enjoy a communal life. They live, dine, and pray together. The Catholic cloistered life also enjoys a long tradition. St. Clare of Assisi and St. Therese of Lesuix, are just a few of the many famous Saints who lived a communal and cloistered life.
Rose of Saint Mary wanted to embrace this way of life. She loved silence and solitude; she hated idle conversations and everything which could distract her from God. Even as a child, Rose would select a corner of her room and sit for hours in contemplation, while her brothers and sisters would play. This often resulted in sibling teasing. Rose didn't mind. She enjoyed her prayerful conversations with the Lord and would have no part in filling her days with the ways of this world. St. Paul said, “Though I am in this world, I am not of this world.” St. Rose accepted these words as her own.
As she grew older, she designed a hut and invited her brother, Ferdinand, to help build an oratory in her yard. It was made of palm leaves and other branches and allowed very little light. She would remain there all day. Her family simply called it the “other home.” She longed for complete solitude with God and prevailed upon her mother to have some room in the house that would give her the solitude she desired.
As time passed, Rose developed an aversion toward visitors and family company. She was polite, but not at ease with visitors. This became even more of a problem as her popularity grew and people would come to see the hermit within the city of Peru. They would come to talk about holy things. Rose preferred not to talk about God. She wanted to talk with God. In her presence, people would tell her that she was holy and an inspiration to the people of Peru. These praises only made Rose want to go deeper into her retreat. She did not want personal attention. “I must decrease and Christ must increase.”
Her mother wanted Rose to marry and would often bring young men to the home. Rose would not have it. As a child, she had secretly made a vow to live a life of chastity. Her life was for God and God alone. She begged her mother to allow her to make a public vow to God to live a chaste life. She wished to join the Dominican order and spend the rest of her life like Mary, the sister of Martha, who sat at the feet of Jesus and enjoyed the better portion.
Maria was fed up with her daughter’s unusual ways and would persist in bringing men to the home. This made Rose want to retreat even more and to build a permanent hermitage in the yard. Her mother refused to give her a formal room for her solitary spiritual life, so Rose had no choice but to go to the priest at Santo Domingo to request permission for an oratory, a little room apart, into which no family, friends, or visitors might speak to her. The parish priest allowed the hermitage to be built on the condition that Rose would allow her confessor to visit on a regular basis. She agreed and proceeded to build for herself a five foot long and four foot wide hermitage in her family’s garden.
Eventually, Rose was allowed to join the Third-Order of Dominicans, but remained at home until her death.
Solitary Rose, the hermit of Lima,
Pray that I may retreat from the temptations of this world which lead me from a closer relationship with Christ my Lord. Your life inspires me to make time and space in my daily life for God.
Holy Spirit, you led Jesus into the desert to fast and pray. Lead me to a place of solitude. Allow me to retreat within my spiritual heart and find therein my Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Father, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.