Rose of the New World
Nearly thirty years after the discovery of the Americas, Spanish explorers made it their aim to conquer the vast continent of South America. Special attention was directed to the rich land between the Andes and the Pacific. These explorers soon became conquerors and rulers. On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Feast of the Three Kings, in 1535 AD, Francis Pizzaro founded the “City of the Kings,” also known as Lima, Peru.
The Incan community, natives to the land, had been in the area for many years prior to that time. There is some evidence that migration into the Lima area occurred around 1200 BC. In Lima, there is evidence of the first Andean inhabitant: hunters and harpoon fishermen, about 1,000 years ago. These remains were found in Chivateros, near the Chillón River, among other places.
The Inca were strong warriors with a powerful army. They were also the largest Native American society. Their capital was in Cuzco, a word which means “belly-button” (or center because it was considered the center of the world. The height of their reign in the 15th century came to a brutal end in 1535 when the Spanish conquistadors took over their territory.
Atahuallpa, also spelled Atahualpa, was the 13th and last emperor of the Inca, who defeated his older half brother Hu car in a civil war for control of the southern half of the empire. Atahuallpa was later betrayed and captured November 16th 1532 by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
Atahuallpa was ransomed by the Inca people for a room full of gold and a room full of silver. However Pizarro had no intention of freeing Atahuallpa, and instead had him strangled August 29th 1533 for killing Hu car. His death marked the end of the Inca Empire, called Tawantinsuyu in Quechua. As a result, by 1535, the Inca society was completely overthrown, and Pizzaro moved the capitol from Cuzco to Lima.
Before Pizzaro and the Spaniards had arrived, the Incans had enjoyed a religion of their own. The highest point in an Inca village was reserved for religious purposes. This point was the closest to the sun, which represented their major god, Inti, the Sun God.
The six major gods of the Inca represent the moon, sun, earth, thunder/lightning and the sea. Pachamama is the earth god, who is the mother of all humans. The Inca had shamans who believed in animal spirits living on earth. Heaven was depicted by the condor, the underworld by the anaconda, and the brother who resided on earth was the puma. The Sun Temple, located in Machu Picchu, Peru, was a religious calendar that marked the winter and summer solstices.
When the Spaniards had arrived, the Incan people were forced to adopt the Spanish-Christian culture. Without such force, the Catholic faith may have been stronger today than it was in the 1500’s. Unfortunately, due to the cruel tactics of the conquistadors, the newly-baptized natives would secretly practice their “pagan” ways and long for the day when they would shake off the yoke of their invaders.
On the 20th of April, 1586, just 50 years after Pizzaro had laid the foundation stone of the “City of the Kings,” there was born in Lima a girl, who received in baptism the name of Isabella. Her father, Gaspar de Flores, was a soldier of noble birth, but poor, in Peru. Her mother, Maria d’Olivia, was a mestiza, sharing Spanish and Incan blood. Who among the conquering Spaniards would have guessed that the first canonized Saint of the New World (Feast Day - August 23rd) and patroness of the Americas would have enjoyed a share in the ancestry of the Incan people?
St. Rose, before you were born, a new world was being discovered for Christians and Incans. You were born from these cultures and this new world was being prepared for you. Pray that I may always avoid prejudice, hatred, and fear toward people of other races, religions, or way of life.
Patroness of Peru and the Americas, pray for the people of our land. Beg the Lord to watch over us. May the Lord of all nations bless us and make us one. I ask this through Jesus Christ, in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.