St. Rose was born in Lima, Peru, to humble Spanish parents. Her baptismal name was Isabel Flores y de Oliva. Yet she became known as "Rose" because, even as a baby, people noticed how beautiful she was. A servant claimed to see a rose when looking at her face.
As a young girl, St. Rose was very pious and prayerful. When she grew up, many men wanted to marry her. But she wanted to remain a virgin and give her life completely to God. She became upset that men were courting her, so she cut her hair very short and rubbed peppers on her face to make herself ugly.
Her parents continued to insist that she get married, but St. Rose stood firm in her promise to God. Eventually, her parents consented to her desire to live a life of prayer, fasting, and penance. They gave her a room to herself in their home.
She wanted to do more than stay in her room and pray. She wanted to become a nun, but her parents wouldn’t permit it. So she became a third order Dominican and wore the habit.
Later, her brother, Ferdinand, helped her build a small hermitage in the family garden. Thus she spent most of her short life in her family home. She did go out for Mass to receive Holy Communion every day, which was very unusual at the time. She also took home-grown flowers to market to help her parents. In addition, she made and sold lace and embroidery to help care for the poor.
Once, during prayer, St. Rose heard Jesus say to her, “Rose of my heart, be my spouse.”
The whole city of Lima knew about Rose and admired her piety. They also admired her many works of charity for the sick and poor. Once, she showed her bravery when a fleet of Protestant Dutch ships sailed into the harbor. St. Rose rushed to the Dominican church and was ready to die to protect the Blessed Sacrament. The Dutch departed without harming the city.
When she died, at the young age of 31, the entire city, including high officials, turned out for her funeral, which was held at the cathedral.
The people of Lima knew she was a saint.
St. Rose was canonized by Clement X in 1671 and proclaimed patroness of the Americas, the Philippines, and the West Indies. She is the first canonized saint of the New World.
Researched and Written by Katherine Andes
Born: April 20, 1586
Died: August 24, 1617 at age 31
Feast Day: August 23
Patroness: Embroiderers, Gardeners, Florists, People Ridiculed for Their Piety, Resolution of Family Quarrels
Tapestry: Frank Casha, St. Brigid Artist
God our Father, for love of you St. Rose gave up everything to devote herself to a life of penance. By the help of her prayers may we imitate her selfless way of life on earth and enjoy the fullness of your blessings in heaven.