St. Rose of Lima
Feast Day: August 23rd
A child so strikingly beautiful she was renamed “Rose” after a maid saw her and said in amazement, “como una rosa” (like a rose), her life was a far cry from her namesake. As Rose grew up in Lima, Peru, she was deeply taken by her faith and embraced St. Catherine of Siena as her role model. Instead of a blessing however, she viewed her celebrated beauty as a curse that drew suitors to her family from a young age. To make clear her devotion to God and ward off young men seeking her hand, Rose began practicing flagellation, reportedly whipping herself. Despite ridiculing Rose for her embarrassing behavior, her parents continued to prepare her for marriage. Determined to devote herself only to God, she began rubbing her flawless skin with hot peppers to disfigure it with red blisters when suitors came calling. When a woman complimented her delicate hands, she covered them with lime, creating burns that took a month to heal. Still, her family refused to let her join a cloister. It was only after her parents lost money investing in a failed mining operation that she was able to become a Dominican tertiary, despite the protests of her family. This debate would continue for ten years, but Rose held her ground. While she wore a garland of roses around her head to please her mother, on the inside was a silver circlet studded with thorns, to draw her closer to the suffering of Christ. Rose set up an infirmary in her family’s house where she cared for impoverished children and elderly sick people. Her actions endeared her to the citizens of Lima, and her efforts have been described as “the beginning of social service in Peru.” She passed away in 1617, only thirty-one years old, in the home of two family friends. When the city tried to have her body carried to her grave, the crowds in attendance were so thick that they could not pass through, and she ultimately had to be buried privately. The first canonized saint of the New World, she is the patron of Peru, South America, the Indies, and the Philippines.