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Saint Rose of Lima
St Rose of Lima, the first saint from the Americas
Born April 20, 1586(1586-04-20), Lima, Peru
Died August 24, 1617 (aged 31), Lima, Viceroyalty of Peru
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified April 15, 1667 or 1668, Rome by Pope Clement IX
Canonized April 2, 1671, Rome by Pope Clement X
Major shrine convent of Santo Domingo in Lima, Peru
Feast August 20
August 23 [1]
August 30 (some Latin American countries and pre-1969 calendar)
Attributes rose, anchor, Infant Jesus
Patronage embroiderers; gardeners; India; Latin America; people ridiculed for their piety; Peru; Philippines; Santa Rosa, California; against vanity; Lima; Peruvian Police Force

Saint Rose of Lima, (April 20, 1586 – August 24, 1617),[2] the first Catholic saint of the Americas, was born in Lima, Peru.



Rose was born in the present-day city of Lima (Peru). She received the baptismal name Isabel Flores de Oliva. She was from a large family. Her father, Gaspar Flores, was a Spanish harquebusier, and her mother, Maria de Oliva, was born in Lima. She was personally confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, Turibius de Mongrovejo. Her nickname "Rosa" was a testament to her holy ties. When she was a baby, a servant claimed to have seen her face transform into a rose, hence her name, "Rosa".

In emulation of Saint Catherine of Siena, she fasted three times a week with secret severe penances. When she was admired, Rose cut off her hair against the objections of her friends and her family. Upon the censure of her parents, Rose disfigured her face with pepper and lye. She was very upset that she was so beautiful, and hurt herself to help others.

She spent many hours contemplating the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily. She determined to take a vow of virginity in opposition to her parents, who wished her to marry.

Daily fasting turned to perpetual abstinence from meat. Her days were filled with acts of charity and industry. Rose helped the sick and hungry around her community. She would bring them to her home and take care of them. Rose sold her fine needlework, grew beautiful flowers, and would take them to market to help her family. Her exquisite lace and embroidery helped to support her home, while her nights were devoted to prayer and penance in a little grotto which she had built. She became a recluse leaving the grotto only for her visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

She took the name of Rose at her confirmation in 1597. She had so attracted the attention of the Dominican Order that she was permitted to enter a Dominican convent in 1602 without payment of the usual dowry. In her twentieth year she donned the habit and took a vow of perpetual virginity.

For eleven years this self-martyrdom continued without relaxation, with intervals of ecstasy, until she died on August 24, 1617, at the age of 31, having prophesied the date of her death exactly. Her funeral was attended by all the public authorities of Lima, and the archbishop pronounced her eulogy in the cathedral.


Convent of Santa Rosa in the 17th century, Lima

Rose was beatified by Pope Clement IX on April 15, 1667, and canonized on April 12, 1671 by Pope Clement X, the first Catholic in the Americas to be declared a saint. Her shrine, alongside those of her friends, St. Martin de Porres and Alonso Abad, is located inside the convent of St. Dominic in Lima. The Roman Catholic Church mentions the many miracles that followed her death. Stories have been heard that she has cured a leper. Many places are named Santa Rosa in the New World and pay homage to this saint. Pope Benedict XVI is especially devoted to her.

Her liturgical feast was inserted into the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1727 for celebration initially on August 30, because August 24,1671, the day of her death, is the feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle and August 30 was the closest date not already occupied by a well-known saint.[3] Pope Paul VI's 1969 reform of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, made August 23 available. Throughout the world, including Spain, her optional memorial is now celebrated on August 23. However, in Peru and other Latin American countries, where August 30 is a public holiday in her honor, the liturgical celebration, a Solemnity, is on that day.

She is the patroness of Lima, of Peru, of the New World, of the Philippines, of Santa Rosa, California, and of Sittard, the Netherlands

Early Lives of Santa Rosa were written by the Dominican Father Hansen, "Vita Sanctae Rosae" (2 vols., Rome, 1664–1668), and Vicente Orsini, afterward. Pope Benedict XIII wrote "Concentus Dominicano, Bononiensis ecclesia, in album Sanctorum Ludovici Bertrandi et Rosae de Sancta Maria, ordinero praedicatorum," Venice, 1674).

There is a park named for her in downtown Sacramento, California.[4] A plot of land at 7th and K streets was given to the Roman Catholic Church by Peter Burnett, first governor of the state of California. Father Peter Anderson built one of the first of two churches in the diocese to be consecrated in honor of St Rose.[5]

The public may see the cranium of Santa Rosa, in the Basilica in Lima, Peru. It was customary to keep the torso in the Basilica and pass the cranium around the country, inviting all to worship and gaze. She has a crown of roses on her cranium. She is also displayed with San Martin de Porres, who also has the cranium separate from the torso.


Teodoro Hampe Martínez: Santa Rosa de Lima y la identidad criolla en el Perú colonial (Ensayo de interpretación) Revista de Historia de América, No. 121 (Jan. - Dec., 1996), pp. 7-26




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