A Rose is Not Without Thorns


St. Maximilian Kolbe once wrote:
Love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice, there is no love.

Today we celebrate someone whose short life was an embodiment of these words: St. Rose of Lima.

Born Isabel Flores in 1586 in Lima (Peru), she felt called by God from a very young age, consecrating herself to Him at the age of 10 and practicing great austerities which she offered as redemptive suffering. She wore a thick circlet of silver on her head which, unbeknownst to others, was studded on the inside like a crown of thorns.

Forensic reconstruction of the face of St. Rose (2015). Click for details.

She received Confirmation by St. Turibius with the name “Rose of St. Mary”, thus consecrating the nickname she bore from childhood. She bravely opposed her parents’ wishes in order to give herself entirely to Christ. With the eccentricity typical of many saints, she rejected the admiration of her beauty by cutting her hair and rubbing her face with pepper to produce disfiguring blotches.

Forbidden by her parents to become a nun, she imitated her model (St. Catherine of Siena) and joined the Third Order of St. Dominic. She then built and lived in a hermitage in the garden of the family home. A great penitent and mystic, she only left her hermitage to attend Church or to serve the needy – particularly the indios who suffered great discrimination.
In time, she set up a room in the family house where she cared for homeless children, the elderly, and the sick. She would say:

<<When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.>>

St. Rosa in her hermitage, source of engraving unknown. (Click for more)

On top of her penances and illnesses, she was often tormented by the devil, but she received reassurance by another Third Order Dominican from Lima: St. Martin de Porres. When someone brought her to the attention of Inquisition interrogators, they quickly affirmed that she was under the influence of divine grace. She had many visions of divine origin, including one in which the Lord called her “Rose of my heart“. She deeply and sincerely loved Christ, and once wrote:
<<Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases. Apart from the Cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven.>>
In 1614, severely ill, she was forced by her family to relocate to the house of a devout family who tended to her care (currently, her Monastery stands in this place). There she died 3 years later, aged 31. Her holiness was so well-known, that such crowds gathered as to cause her funeral to be delayed by several days. She was privately buried in the cloister of the Church of St. Dominic at her own request.

St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres – author unknown

She was beatified in 1668 and canonized only 3 years later. She was proclaimed the Primary Patron of the New World, and was celebrated as the first canonized saint of the Americas.


 

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Published in: on August 23, 2022 at 2:05 PM  Leave a Comment  

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