Saint Rosa of Lima - The Rose of the Americas and the Philippines

Saint Rosa of Lima - The Rose of the Americas and the Philippines

By Karen Riobo

One thing Saints have in common is their radical love for Christ, and it shows in the way that they lived out sacrifice and penance. From cutting hair, flagellation, fasting, sleeping on needles, suffering, praying for hours, offering discomfort, etc. The saints were very creative and unique in the way they worshiped God and prepared for Heaven. Thanks to their powerful witness and God’s mercy, we enjoy their friendship today. Saint Rose of Lima was not shy of those sacrifices; she was pious and faithful. 

St. Rose of Lima was born Isabella Flores de Oliva on April 20, 1586. Both her father and mother had come to Peru in 1548 with the Spanish Conquistadors. The story of the name change from Isabella to Rose happened because while gazing upon baby Isabella, a housemaid, exclaimed: “ She is as lovely as a rose” and from that day on her mother decided to call her Rose. The name change was made official at confirmation.

Isabella was very pious from an early age. Tradition says that at age five, she built a small chapel for herself in the family garden. As a young girl growing up, Rose would fast and mortify herself. Her parents denied her permission to enter a convent, and because she preferred not to marry, she made a private vow of virginity. She stayed at home and supported her family by sewing and selling the flowers she cultivated. 

As soon as Rose turned twenty, she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and thereafter increased her penances and works of mercy. She moved into a small hut in the garden and served the poor and the sick at her house. She regularly wore a crown of thorns, practiced fasting, slept only a few hours a night on a bed of potsherds, self-flagellated, and experienced numerous visions, particularly of the Devil. Because of her faithfulness and radical love for the Lord, she experienced many mystical manifestations. During prayer, she will be in ecstasy for hours. 

Rose continued her journey of suffering for many years until she died of a fever and paralysis at age 31. It is said, that her prayer while enduring pain was: “Lord increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart”. 

She was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X and became the first American saint. Her feast day is August 23, although some countries, like Peru, celebrate her on August 30. St. Rose is the patroness of embroiderers, gardeners, florists, those who suffer ridicule for their piety, people who suffer family problems, The Philippines and Peru. 

We may all not be called to endure penance and sacrifice in this way, but we can all agree that a heart that is centered in the Lord is fruitful and pure. Her life of penance and serving the poor was not in vain. She received the crown of Sainthood. You and I are invited to receive our own crowns. Let us ask Saint Rosa de Lima to intercede for us in our desire to achieve holiness. 

St. Rose of Lima Medal

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The Mass prayer on her feast day recalls her austerity of life and the fervor of her love of God.

Collect for St. Rose of Lima

         O God, you set Saint Rose of Lima on fire with your love,

         so that, secluded from the world

         in the austerity of a life of penance,

         she might give herself to you alone;

         grant, we pray, that through her intercession,

         we may tread the paths of life on earth

         and drink at the stream of your delights in heaven.

         Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

         who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

         God, forever and ever. 

Karen Riobo is a copywriter who loves the Holy Spirit! She has worked in Catholic Ministry for over seven years, encouraging young adults to have an intimate relationship with Christ. Her favorite saints are Our Blessed Mother and Saint Francis of Assisi. She enjoys Coffee, Learning and Fashion. 

st rose of lima prayer card

St. Rose of Lima Laminated Holy Card. Click Here to Buy!