St. Rose of Lima is the patroness of Latin America and the Philippines. This South American Saint's real name was Isabel, but she was such a beautiful baby that she was called Rose, and that name remained. As she grew older, she became more and more beautiful, and one day, her mother put a wreath of flowers on her head to show off her loveliness to friends. But Rose had no desire to be admired, for her heart had been given to Jesus. So she put a long pin into that wreath and it pierced her so deeply, that she had a hard time getting the wreath off afterward. Another time she became afraid that her beauty might be a temptation to someone, since people could not take their eyes off her. Therefore, she rubbed her face with pepper until it was all red and blistered.
After reading of St. Catherine she was determined to take that saint as her model. She began by fasting three times a week, adding secret severe penances, and when her vanity was assailed, cutting off her beautiful hair, wearing coarse clothing, and roughening her hands with toil. All this time she had to struggle against the objections of her friends, the ridicule of her family, and the censure of her parents. Many hours were spent before the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily.Finally she determined to take a vow of virginity, and inspired by supernatural love, adopted extraordinary means to fulfill it. St. Rose worked hard to support her poor parents and she humbly obeyed them, except when they tried to get her to marry. That she would not do. Her love of Jesus was so great that when she talked about Him, her face glowed and her eyes sparkled.
Her days were filled with acts of charity and industry, her exquisite lace and embroidery helping to support her home, while her nights were devoted to prayer and penance. When her work permitted, she retired to a little grotto which she had built, with her brother's aid, in their small garden, and there passed her nights in solitude and prayer. Overcoming the opposition of her parents, and with the consent of her confessor, she was allowed later to become practically a recluse in this cell, save for her visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
In her twentieth year she received the habit of St. Dominic. Thereafter she redoubled the severity and variety of her penances to a heroic degree, wearing constantly a metal spiked crown, concealed by roses, and an iron chain about her waist. Days passed without food, save a draught of gall mixed with bitter herbs. When she could no longer stand, she sought repose on a bed constructed by herself, of broken glass, stone, potsherds, and thorns. She admitted that the thought of lying down on it made her tremble with dread. Fourteen years this martyrdom of her body continued without relaxation, but not without consolation. Our Lord revealed Himself to her frequently, flooding her soul with such inexpressible peace and joy as to leave her in ecstasy for hours. At these times she offered to Him all her mortifications and penances in expiation for offences against His Divine Majesty, for the idolatry of her country, for the conversion of sinners, and for the souls in Purgatory.
Rose had many temptations from the devil, and there were also many times when she had to suffer a feeling of terrible loneliness and sadness, for God seemed far away. Yet she cheerfully offered all these troubles to Him. In fact, in her last long, painful sickness, this heroic young woman use to pray: "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart."
Many miracles followed her death. She was beatified by Clement IX, in 1667, and canonized in 1671 by Clement X, the first American to be so honoured. Her feast is celebrated 30 August. She is represented wearing a crown of roses.
Patron: Against vanity; Americas; Central America; embroiderers; florists; gardeners; India; Latin America; needle workers; New World; people ridiculed for their piety; Peru; Phillipines; diocese of Santa Rosa, California; South America; vanity; Villareal Samar, Phillipines; West Indies.