St.Rose of Lima Virgin (1586 -1617)
Isabella de Florez, to call this saint by her baptismal name, was born in Lima, the capital of Peru, of poor Puerto Rican parents. She took the name Rose Marie when she was confirmed at the age of 11 by Archbishop St Turibio. Like her role model, St Catherine of Siena, she led a rather austere life of prayer, fasting and severe mortification within her family circle, even as she helped support it through her exquisite lace and embroidery work.
In the garden behind her home, with her brother’s help, she built a small cell of sun-dried bricks. Here she would retire for prayer and a short nightly rest on a box filled with broken glass and pottery after a day of charitable activity among the poor. She spent long hours in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and was permitted by her confessor to receive Holy Communion daily.
In spite of a decade of family opposition and ridicule, Rose finally attained her long-desired goal of becoming a religious. As a Dominican tertiary at 20, Sister Rose of St Mary redoubled her penance — she partook of almost no food, wore an iron chain around her waist and a spiked metal crown concealed in her hair.
Our Lord revealed himself to her on numerous occasions, leaving her for hours in an ecstasy of peace and joy after she had
successfully overcome diabolical temptations against purity and constancy in faith. She in turn would offer him all her mortifications in expiation for the sins and evil she saw all about her, including idolatory, and for the suffering souls in Purgatory.
“I beheld great scales in our Lord’s hands,” she once wrote, “and with minute care he distributed among the souls as many blessings as he had loaded them with affliction. You must know that in the true scales of Paradise grace corresponds to tribulation! No one would complain about the weight of his cross, if he knew of the scales in which it has been weighed!”
Numerous miracles followed her death which occurred on 24 August 1617 when she had attained the age of 31. Beatified on 12 March 1668 by Pope Clement IX, Clare was canonized on 12 April 1671 by Pope Clement X the first American-born saint! — and declared Patron Saint of Latin America and of the Philippines.
Reflection: “Contradictions bring us to the foot of the Cross, and the Cross to the gate of heaven” (St John B.M. Vianney).