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St. Rose of Lima

Saint Rose of Lima


The Third Order of Saint Dominic (properly referred to as the Lay Fraternities of St Dominic or Lay Dominicans since 1972) is a Roman Catholic third order affiliated with the Dominican Order.


Lay Dominicans are men and women, singles and couples living a Christian life with a Dominican spirituality in the secular world. They find inspiration following the same spiritual path taken by many saints, blesseds, and other holy men and women throughout the 800-year history of the Dominican Order. The Life of a Dominican layperson is all about having a passion for the Word of God. It is about committing one self to a community of like minded brothers and sisters that immerse themselves in the Word of God. There are Lay Dominican Provinces all around the world.


Saint Rose of Lima

by Claudio Coello (1642–1693),

in the Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain



Birth of St. Rose—How she got the name of Rose—Takes St. Catharine of Sienna as her model—Her vow at five years of age—Her heroic obedience—Her spirit of penance—Rose's devotion to her father and mother.


"First floweret of the desert wild.

Whose leaves the sweets of grace exhale,

"We greet thee, Lima's sainted child—

Rose of America—all hail!"

                                                                        —Father Faber.


Rose Florez, the holy and renowned subject of our sketch, was born at Lima, the capital of Peru, in South America, on the 20th day of April, in the year 1586.  Her parents, Gasper Florez and Mary Olivia, were persons of virtue and high birth.


Her aunt, Lady Isabella of Herrera, being chosen as her godmother, gave her the name of Isabella in Baptism.  Three months after, however, as the child slept in her cradle, her mother and several other persons saw a beautiful rose on her sweet little countenance.  From that time, they called her by the name of Rose.


Rose's godmother thought herself slighted by this change of name.  So much offended was the lady that she lived at variance with the child's mother until an end was put to the unhappy dispute by the action of the Archbishop of Lima, who gave her the name of Rose in Confirmation. *

*Rose, when older, had some scruples about It on learning that It was not the name she had received in Baptism. She thought it was an effect of the complaisance or vanity of her parents, who wished to make her beauty more attractive by this agreeable name.  Disturbed by this conduct, which she thought unworthy of the spirit of a Christian, she went to the Church of the Dominicans.  She entered the Chapel of the Rosary, cast herself at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, and made known her uneasiness. Our Blessed Mother immediately consoled her, assuring her that the name of Rose was pleasing to Jesus Christ; and that as a mark of her affection, she would also honor her with her own name, and that henceforward she should be called Rose of St. Mary.  So that we may say that of all the saints whose names Almighty God has changed by an extraordinary favor, St. Rose of Lima Is the first and perhaps the only one whose surname has been also changed by Heaven.—Fattier Feuillet, 0. P. 

As a child she was very remarkable, bore many severe afflictions with unflinching heroism, and was exceedingly neat in her dress.  In prayer she was most fervent.  We are assured that she received from God, at a most tender age, an inspiration to follow in the footsteps of St. Catharine of Sienna, by a perfect imitation of the virtues of that great and saintly woman.

To Rose's pure heart and girlish mind, innocence was the grand and only attraction.  She loved purity, because it is "the beautiful and white virtue of the soul."  At five years of age, we are told, she made a vow of virginity, consecrating her whole life to Heaven.  Thus we may say of America's first Saint, what a celebrated Doctor of the Church said of the lovely St. Agnes—that her piety and virtue were above her years, and far beyond the strength of nature. *

* From the testimony of her confessors, it is certain that Rose began to have the use of reason from her fifth year; and so pleased was God with the generous action related above, that He showered down upon her His choicest benedictions, and enriched her with so many graces, that she preserved her Baptismal innocence till her death.—Father Feuillet, 0. P.

Her obedience was in the highest degree heroic.  Her mother—like many others who love their children more for this world than for Heaven—often begged Rose to take much care of her beauty, and even desired her to use paint and cosmetics.  But the pure, simple soul of our Saint saw the folly of such advice.  She knew that modesty, virtue, and simplicity in dress are the highest ornaments sanctioned by religion and good sense; and she earnestly entreated her mother not to oblige her to obey in such matters.

On one occasion the mother ordered her daughter to wear a garland of flowers on her head.  Rose did not think herself strong enough to effect a change in this command and obeyed.  But she sanctified her submission by the painful mortification with which she accompanied it.  Our Lord having recalled to her mind the remembrance of the cruel thorns which composed His Crown in His Passion, she took the garland, and fixed it on her head with a large needle, which penetrated so deeply that at night the maid could scarcely remove the garland.  Thus she contrived to elude, without resisting, the orders of her mother, when they were openly opposed to the high virtue at which our Saint aimed; and she punished herself severely when she obeyed her in anything that partook of the vanity of the world.

Agnes Rose Catherine Tiepolo.jpg

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 
The Virgin Appears to SS. Agnes of Montepulciano, Rose of Lima, and Catherine of Siena


The Gesuati, Venice


Saints Rose and Catherine were Dominican tertiaries, St. Agnes a Dominican prioress. Here all three wear variations of the Dominican habit. 

Gregory of Tours once argued that the saints all have a single "life" because they "share collectively in the luminous ife of the incarnate Christ."1 In that spirit the artist has transposed some of the saints' attributes, as if they were all one in sainthood. Rose's crown of thorns is here worn by Agnes; Agnes' lilies are at Rose's feet; and Catherine's black cape bears a small gray cross such as we sometimes see on Agnes' garments (seen here). 


At the same time, each saint also has one attribute of her own: the crucifix for Agnes, the Christ Child and eponymous flower for Rose, and the rosary that Catherine is starting to assemble by hand. 

It may be said, in truth, that from her infancy, Rose's patience in suffering and her love of mortification were extraordinary, and while yet a child she ate no fruit, fasted three days a week, allowing herself only bread and water, and on other days taking only herbs and pulse.  When she was grown up, her garden was planted with nothing but bitter herbs, interspersed with figures of crosses.


By the changes of worldly fortune, Gasper Florez fell from a state of opulence into great distress. The pious wife of the Treasurer Gonsalvo took Rose into her family; and the young Saint, by working there all day in the garden, and late at night with her needle, managed to relieve and comfort her father and mother in their necessities.

She was a perfect mistress of needlework, either in designing flowers, or in tracing them on embroidery or tapestry.  So much beauty and delicacy had her work, that it seemed to surpass art and nature. And what is more surprising is, that though her mind was often elevated to God during her hours of toil, yet her hand guided the work as faultlessly as if her mind was solely intent upon it.


Besides needlework, she cultivated a little garden, in which she raised violets and other flowers.  These she sold, to help her parents in their necessities; and as all her industry was insufficient to save them from poverty, she confessed to a holy person that Jesus Christ himself graciously supplied the deficiency by secret and wonderful means.  Her parents she attended in sickness with angelic kindness and assiduity.  She was always at their bedside, ready by day and by night to perform the vilest and most difficult services.



Matrimonial annoyances—Rose becomes a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic—Her humility—Her charity and great self-control—Her wonderful purity—Her fasts—How she chastised herself—Her singular bed— The honor paid to her even by irrational creatures.


Saint Rose of Lima; facial reconstruction

As Rose grew up to womanhood, her extreme beauty, the refinement of her mind, her delightful conversation, and even her virtue itself, which greatly enhanced her personal attractions, captivated many hearts.  To her this was a great annoyance, as she never for a moment forgot her vow of virginity.  She invented all sorts of means to disfigure herself.  She made her face pale and livid with fasting, and washed her hands in hot lime to take the skin off them.  She sought solitude, shut herself up closely in the house, went out very seldom, and then only when it was quite necessary.  Thus several years passed away.


But notwithstanding all these precautions, the good young lady was not able to prevent several persons from seeking her hand in marriage.  Among others, one of the most distinguished women in the capital, as much delighted with her virtue as her beauty, wished her to become the bride of her only son.  The lady openly made the request to Rose's parents, who, having eleven children to provide for, received the proposal most favorably, thinking the alliance would be very advantageous to themselves and their family.


Our Saint was the only person to whom this offer was disagreeable.  She blamed herself for it.  She saw that there was now no means of escape but by openly declaring her firm resolution not to marry.  Her parents were surprised, but did not lose hopes of inducing her to comply with their wishes.  They tried caresses, threats, and finally blows; but it was all in vain.


After this storm blew over, Rose sought a port of safety in the Third Order of St. Dominic.  She solemnly received the habit at the hands of the Rev. Father Velasquez on the 10th of August, 1606, being twenty years of age.  This state of life, it may be observed, did not prevent the Saint from continuing to assist her father and mother.


It is said that he who knows not how to be humble knows nothing.  Humility now-a-days is a rare virtue, but it is, nevertheless, a great one.  This wise young lady was a model of deep humility.  All her actions proclaimed it. At confession the abundance of her tears might make her pass in the eyes of a stranger for a great public sinner.  Yet so pure and innocent was the life she led that her confessors had often great difficulty in finding matter for absolution in those things of which she accused herself with so many tears.


She kept so strict a watch over herself, that she was never heard to speak one word louder than another, or to find the least fault with the actions or conduct of others.  There was nothing in her behavior that could give annoyance to those with whom charity or duty obliged her to converse; on the contrary, her sweet and obliging manners made her so agreeable to everyone, that it was commonly said that the name Rose did not suit her, because she had not its thorns.

St Rose of Lima.jpg

Juan Rodríguez Juárez 

St. Rose of Lima with Christ Child and Donor


Circa 1720 
Oil on canvas 
Denver Art Museum


The Christ Child, Dominican habit, and the roses on the book identify St. Rose; but it is unusual for the roses not to be formed into a garland.

Her charity towards mankind was so universal, that this queen of virtues seemed to be the soul which animated her words, actions, and entire conduct.  The love which she had for God and her neighbor filled her whole heart, and had so entirely disengaged it from earthly things, that she was insensible to the pleasures winch most men lave so passionately.  Being asked one day if, in the midst of the delights and consolations which Almighty God infused so abundantly into her soul, she did not feel her heart attached to worldly things, she confessed that it was impossible for her to think of them, or to take the least pleasure in them.  By this wonderful detachment from creatures, she attained to a rare purity of heart, in some degree similar to that which the angels possess by the privilege of their nature."


Her spirit of penance, the mark of the true Christian, was not less marvelous.  By long training she reached an astonishing degree of abstinence.  Often for the space of twenty-four hours she would take nothing but a piece of bread and a little water.  This must have been at the expense of great suffering, for the extreme heat of Peru is very exhaustive of physical strength.


During the last few years of her life, Rose accustomed herself to fast in the following manner: She observed very strictly the fast of her Order from the festival of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Sunday.  From the beginning of Lent, she left off bread, contenting herself with a few orange pippins every day of the forty that are consecrated to penance. On Fridays she took only five. She ate so little during the rest of the year, that what she took in eight days was scarcely sufficient nourishment for twenty-four hours.  Indeed, she was known to make a moderate sized loaf and a pitcher of water last fifty days.  But what seems miraculous in her austerities, is that the Saint derived more strength from her fasts than from the food which she took.


Rose likewise daily chastised her body with instruments of penance, so much so, that her confessors were obliged to restrict her in the use of them.  After she became a nun, she was not content with a common sort of discipline.  She made one for herself, composed of two iron chains, and used it daily with merciless severity.  She disciplined herself, first, for her own sins; secondly, for all souls engaged in sin; thirdly, for the pressing necessities of the Church; fourthly, for Lima or Peru, when threatened with any great misfortune; fifthly, for the souls in purgatory; sixthly, for those in their last agony; and, seventhly, in reparation of the outrages offered to Almighty God.


During the whole course of her life—which lasted thirty-one yours—she was never guilty of the slightest fault against purity; and what is something miraculous, she was never even availed with thoughts contrary to that holy and beautiful virtue.  And this is a privilege not granted to the most cherished and favored saints of God.  Eleven learned priests, six Dominicans and five Jesuits, who had several times heard her general confessions, deposed this on their solemn oath.

The bed Rose used—and which she constructed herself— was in the form of a rough wooden box.  Into it she put a quantity of small stones of different sizes, that her body might suffer more and more, and might not enjoy the repose which a smoother couch would have afforded Nor did this seem hard enough.  She afterwards added pieces of wood and broken tiles; and such was the luxurious bed on which this young, delicate, and beautiful girl took the rest necessary to recruit her exhausted strength for the space of fifteen years!


When some good persons, through charity, entreated the Saint to moderate her austerities, she answered: "As I cannot do any good, is it not just that I should suffer whatever l am capable of suffering?"


Rose's body being so obedient to the laws of her mind, and her mind so perfectly submissive to the will of God, it is not surprising to learn that even irrational creatures respected her virtue.  The dampness of the earth, and the foliage of the trees which surrounded her little hermitage, drew thither a countless multitude of mosquitoes.  It is well known how these small, malicious busybodies love the shade, and take such a queer delight in ceaselessly annoying all who are within their reach.  But there was one whom they touched not.  It was Rose.  Not one of the legion of mosquitoes that covered the walls, windows, and doors of her garden cell presumed to annoy her. On the contrary, they showed so much respect for the purity and sanctity of her person that they seemed to honor in her the sovereign power of the good God who had created them.  To the Saint's mother, however, and other persons who came to visit her, the mosquitoes exhibited no such marked deference.  They attacked all comers with that vigor and venom for which they are so renowned even to this day in the backwoods of America.

After the Saint's death.  Mary of Usategni kept some links of this discipline, which it is said, exhaled so sweet an odor that all who examined them were obliged to confess that so strange a phenomenon was supernatural.

In the last year of her life, a bird whose melody was most charming placed itself opposite her room during the whole season of Lent.  As soon as the sun began to sink in the west, Rose ordered the little warbler to employ its notes in praising God.  The bird obeyed, and, raising its tiny voice, it sang vigorously, until the Saint, unwilling to be outdone in offering canticles of praise and benediction to God, began most sweetly to sing hymns to His glory.  When she had finished, the little songster of the grove commenced again, and thus together the Saint and the bird composed a choir in which they sang alternately for an hour the praises of the Almighty.  At six o'clock, she dismissed her little feathered companion till next day, and so punctual was it that never did it fail to appear at the time fixed!


Rose's spirit of prayer—Her deep insight into the mysteries of religion—A tormenter at home—Persecution— Sickness—The Saint’ s charity—Her confidence in God— She learns of the day of her death by revelation—Her last sufferings—The end.

The path that leads to saintliness is, it is true, a straight and narrow one; but it has its pure joys, and peace, and beauties, and consolations.  Many were the extraordinary graces which God bestowed upon this holy American lady; and Christ once in a vision called her soul his Spouse.


"The more a man is united within himself, and interiorly simple," writes the author of The Imitation of Christ, "the more and higher things does he understand without labor, for he receives the light of understanding from above.  A pure, simple, and steady spirit is not dissipated by a multitude of affairs, because he performs them all to the honor of God, and endeavors to be at rest within himself, and free from all seeking of himself."


It was thus with Rose of Lima.  The supernatural lights with which God enriched her understanding inflamed her heart with so ardent a love for prayer, that even sleep itself could not distract her from it.  So completely absorbed was her imagination in this holy exercise, that she was often heard to repeat while asleep the same number of vocal prayers as she had said during the day.


She meditated every day for three hours on the benefits of God, and the countless graces she had received from His mercy.  Her vocal prayer was continual.  Indeed, it is beyond the power of our imagination to conceive how, though the presence of God entirely engrossed all the interior powers of her soul, she still acted in exterior things with great presence of mind, giving the proper answers to questions, and carefully finishing any work she commenced.  When in church she kept her eyes fixed on the altar, and never looked at anything else.  Thus, according to the advice of the Holy Book, she kept God in her mind all the days of her life.


The Almighty rewarded this purity and simplicity of mind by giving her a deep insight into the most profound mysteries of religion.  Some learned theologians hearing of this, had the curiosity to converse with her on such sublime subjects as the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, grace, and predestination; and after a long conference, they confessed that they had never known a more enlightened soul, and that the Saint had not acquired the knowledge of these elevated truths of faith by the vivacity of her mind, or by application to study.


But there is another feature in her career to which we must devote a few words . As thorns spring forth with roses, so grief and pain seem to have been born with the blessed Rose.  Her life was one long chain of sufferings, sickness, pains, and crosses, which exercised her patience from the cradle to the tomb by a tedious martyrdom.


The sweet disposition and religious spirit of the Saint were often severely tried by the passionate temper of her mother, who found fault with everything her daughter did.  She condemned her reserve, blamed her fasts, disliked her taking up so much time in prayer and retirement so opposed to the maxims of the world; and for these reasons she often scolded Rose, and went so far as to use a thousand abusive epithets, as if she had been an infamous person.  At the least provocation she gave her blows on the cheek, but when she was carried away by the fury of anger, she put no bounds to her malicious abuse.  She even assailed her daughter with blows and kicks; and on one occasion she took a thick, knotty stick and struck her with all her strength.  She began to treat Rose thus when she cut off her hair, after having consecrated her virginity to God, and she continued the same treatment on many other occasions.


Those with whom the holy heroine lived were also actuated towards her by the vilest feelings of envy and vexation, and all because they saw her lead a life so different from theirs.  To disoblige and annoy her, they did everything in their power.  They even threatened to report her to the Inquisition as a deluded girl and a hypocrite, who was deceiving the world by a false appearance of virtue!


Sickness came upon her in all sorts of shapes.  She was three years in bed a paralytic, suffering great torture without shedding a tear, or making the least complaint. These diseases arose from different causes, which all united in her body to give her an increase of torture.  Even the physicians were surprised to see her suffer so long, sometimes from tertian, sometimes from quartan fevers, which made her burn with heat and then shiver with cold; for so dried up and attenuated was her body that there seemed to be scarcely anything remaining to nourish fever.


On her part, this heroic woman adored the hand of God in her infirmities, acknowledging that they did not proceed in her from any derangement of the system, as is the case with others, but from the particular dispensation of Christ, who sent them to exercise her patience and to furnish her with opportunities of grace and merit.  She was a daughter of affliction.  But in the midst of her pains and sorrows, she would look at her crucifix, and exclaim: "Oh, Jesus, increase my sufferings, but increase also Thy divine love in my soul!"


Her charity was boundless.  One day when she had nothing to give a poor woman, who begged her for the love of God to give her some old clothes to cover her poor little half-naked children, Rose took a large cloak belonging to her mother, and without any permission beyond that which she interiorly received from God, who inspired her to perform this action, she bestowed it upon the unhappy mendicant.  Her mother was displeased with this sort of liberality; but the Saint humbly entreated her not to be uneasy; and assured her that Almighty God would make her a return far beyond the cost of her cloak.  Nor was she deceived in her expectations.  During the same day a stranger came in and gave her fifty pieces of money.  Three days after, a lady sent her by a servant a piece of cloth large enough to make another cloak; and the Dominicans added to this by sending her another fine piece of cloth.


Rose made herself the attendant and infirmarian of the poor. She took home with her Jane de Bovadilla, a young orphan lady, who, besides her great poverty, had a cancer in her breast, of which no one could bear the insupportable odor.  God revealed her condition to the Saint.  She went immediately to see the unfortunate girl, offered to wait, upon her, and that she might be able to do it, she persuaded her to come to her father’s house, where she could render her every kind of assistance.  Still, as the Saint knew that her mother was a little too much attached to her own interests, she told her patient that she would hire a room in the house, and that she would give her the money to pay for herself, only requiring that the young lady should keep this a secret.  Rose hired the room, brought Miss de Bovadilla to it, charitably waited upon her, and worked more than usual to obtain the money necessary for the payment of the lodging, which the young lady did not quit till she was perfectly recovered.


A little while after, her mother became acquainted with the foregoing case, and gave her leave to bring home sick persons.  On receiving this permission, Rose exercised her charity towards the poor women and girls whom she met in the streets, whatever might be their condition.  Nor was she satisfied with merely giving them a lodging.  She nursed them, made their beds, dressed their ulcers, washed their clothes, and, in short, rendered them every sort of service, making no distinction between the Spaniard and the Indian, the free and the slave, the European or the African Negro.


We are told in the Holy Book that the shadow of St. Peter restored the sick to health.  The mere sight of our Saint often effected a cure.  On one occasion Don John d'Almansa, a gentleman of high rank, being dangerously ill, desired very much to speak to Rose once more before he died.  She went to see him, to afford him this satisfaction.  When the saintly lady entered his room, he remarked quite a heavenly beauty on her pure countenance, from which he conceived a firm hope that she would obtain his cure from Almighty God, who alone could raise him from the sad state to which he was reduced.  While she was speaking to him, he fell asleep with this consoling thought in his mind, and awoke as perfectly recovered as if he had never been ill!


Like her charity, our Saint's childlike confidence in God was wonderful.  One day, seeing that there was no money in the house to buy provisions, or a bit of bread to eat, she went to open the chest in the assurance that the Almighty, who never abandons those who trust in him, would provide for those so dear to her.  She was not deceived.  She found the bread-chest full of loaves, whiter and of a different shape from the ones they were accustomed to eat.


On another occasion the supply of honey—which is much used in Peru—having failed, and her brothers having brought word that there was not a single drop remaining, Rose, full of confidence in God, went to the place, and found the vessel quite full of excellent honey.  It lasted the family eight months.


When her father, Gasper Florez, was sick and weighed down with sorrow at not being able to pay the sum of fifty livres which he owed, and which he was pressed to return, Rose was informed of the affair.  She went to the church and begged of Christ to assist him on the occasion, and not to allow her parent to be put to confusion. As she returned she saw a stranger enter the house.  He gave her father a little purse, which contained precisely the sum wanted to satisfy his creditor.  On many other occasions, in the great necessities to which her family was often reduced, God favored its members by miraculous means, to reward the Saint's admirable confidence in His almighty power and goodness.


Rose learned by revelation that she would die on the Festival of St. Bartholomew, and when she reached her thirty-first year—which she knew she would not live to complete —she made the wife of Don Gonzalez, her great benefactor and the protector of her family, acquainted with the day and place of her death.  She was in perfect health when she communicated this sad intelligence.


God likewise enlightened our Saint as to the extreme sufferings she was to endure at the close of her holy and humble life.  He showed her their number, and revealed to her that her pains would be so violent that each member of her body would have its own particular torment.  She was told that she would have to suffer the same thirst which tormented our Blessed Redeemer on the Cross, and also a burning heat which would dry up the very marrow in her bones. But the heroine trembled not at the thought of this woeful species of martyrdom.


On the night of the 1st of August, Rose retired to her room in perfect health; but at midnight she was heard piteously crying and moaning.  The wife of Don Gonzalez, at whose house she lived, hastened to the Saint's room, and found her extended on the floor, half dead, cold, pulseless, motionless, and scarcely breathing.


Skilled physicians were at once summoned; and after a most careful diagnosis they all declared that her infirmities and sufferings were beyond human endurance, and that such a union of incompatible symptoms was something truly miraculous.  They were of opinion, in short, that her illness was not natural, but that the hand of God had sent the torments which thus afflicted His servant.  As for Rose herself, in the midst of her agonies of pain, she exhibited the greatest peace of mind, and continually thanked all who attended her for their kindness and devotion.


At length, her last hour arrived. It was towards midnight, and a mysterious noise warned her that the angel of death had come.  She received the announcement with joy.  Just before expiring, she requested her brother to remove the bolster from beneath her head, and to place some pieces of wood in its stead.  He complied, and she thanked him for this last act of kindness.  She placed her head upon the pieces of wood, to die, as it were, upon a sort of Cross, and said twice, "Jesus be with me!" and thus passed away to its heavenly home the pure and beautiful soul of America's first Saint, Rose of Lima.  Her precious death took place on the 24th of August, the Feast of St. Bartholomew, in the year 1617.


So lovely did death itself appear upon her countenance, that those who remarked the freshness of her complexion and the redness of her lips, which were separated so as to form a pleasing smile, doubted for a long time whether her soul had really quitted the body.  They beheld so much brightness in her eyes, and such apparent marks of life, that they could not be satisfied till they had placed a mirror before her mouth, and perceived that she did not in the least tarnish it with her breath.  Then they knew that their holy friend had forever bade adieu to the scenes of this world.

On the same night a lady named Aloysia de Serrano had a revelation of the Saint's death; and as Rose and she had promised one another, that the one who died first would make it known to the other.  Rose kept her word and informed her friend of her death and of the happiness she enjoyed.—Father Feuillet, 0. P.


Examination of one hundred and eighty persons—A visit to the Saint’s tomb—What a physician saw—The visions of a pious lady—Sinners converted—Two persons raised to life—An incurable arm cured—A poor cripple healed of his infirmities—A child cured of leprosy —

Canonization of St. Rose.

The Saints die only to live.  Their true glory is beyond the tomb.  So it was with the holy daughter of Peru.  The fame of her sanctity was so great that in May, 1630, an Apostolic Brief was received at Lima, by which the Sacred Congregation of Rites established a tribunal for the purpose of examining canonically into the life, actions, and miracles of Sister Rose of the Third Order of St. Dominic.  Two years were employed in hearing, juridically, one hundred and eighty persons who presented themselves, and deposed on their solemn oath what they had seen.


Nothing more remained to terminate the proceedings but to visit the relics of the servant of God.  It was fifteen years after her death.  The members of the examining tribunal went to her tomb, and having opened it, they found her bones entire, covered with dry flesh, which exhaled a delightful odor like that of roses.


A physicianwell known for his virtue, Dr. Juan de Castile, swore before the examining commissioners that Rose had appeared to him several times, fifteen years after her death, environed with an extraordinary light, and that he saw her in the midst of this light, clothed in her religious habit, but so glorious and majestic that he could find no words to depict her splendor.  In her right hand she held a lily, the emblem of her virgin purity; and she spoke of the happiness of the Saints in so sublime a manner that he would try in vain to express their glory.


In the last examination, made at Lima in 1631, Dr. Juan de Castile deposed on oath that for six months, whenever he made his meditation, either by day or night, he had been permitted to see the more than royal magnificence with which Almighty God rewarded the merits of St. Rose.  This he saw by means of an angel whom she sent from Heaven to invite him to witness such a celestial spectacle.


She appeared likewise to a pious widow that lived in Lima.  One day when this good lady was enraptured to see the Saint amid a multitude of the blessed, Rose said to her: “Mother, this state of glory is only acquired by generous efforts.  Much labor is necessary.  But the recompense with which God crowns our trials is exceedingly great.  You see how His mercy rewards abundantly, and even beyond my hopes, the pains I suffered, and the few good actions I performed while on earth.”


During life the Saint often exhibited her love for her native city and its inhabitants; and it seems that she testified the same interest for them in Heaven.  The pious lady already mentioned was one day praying for Lima.  Rose appeared to her and said: “Mother, I will do what you request.  God has promised to grant me for these dear people whatever concerns their salvation.  Those things which have been recommended to my intercession I remember well, and I shall not fail to ask for them.”


The miracles wrought by the Saint after death cannot be here recounted.  According to her biographer, the number was so great that a volume might be filled on this subject alone.  We merely notice a few of the most remarkable.


When her body was exposed before burial, it was observed that some young libertines who came to the church merely to gaze on the pure beauty of "Lima's holy child," whom they had not been able to look upon attentively during life, returned home penetrated with great contrition, and resolved to change their sinful ways.


Magdalen de Torrez was the daughter of a poor laborer, who dwelt in the outskirts of Lima.  She was seized with a violent fever and died.  Everything was ready for the girl's burial, when her mother, placing her confidence in God and St. Rose's protection, laid on the mouth of her dead daughter a piece of a garment which had belonged to our Saint.  Wonderful to relate, this girl, who was quite cold and whose body was stiff, opened her eyes, and in the presence of her father and several others who were in the room, arose from the mattress in as perfect health and strength as if she had never been unwell.  This happened in October, 1627.


In the year 1631, Anthony Bran, the servant of a pious lady, died of a complication of diseases.  His mistress was much afflicted.  On visiting the room of the departed, she saw a paper picture of St. Rose on the pillow of the bed.  The lady immediately entreated the Saint's protection in her sorrow, and earnestly besought her to obtain from God the life of this good servant.  She placed the picture on the corpse and prayed again with others who were in the room.  Anthony came to life, rose up in a sitting position, and proclaimed in a loud voice the marvelous favor he had received through the intercession of St. Rose.  The same day he went to her tomb, to return thanks to God and his kind benefactress.


During the time that the remains of the Saint were lying in church before interment, Elizabeth Durand visited the place.  She wished to touch the holy body, in order to recover the use of her arm, which the surgeons pronounced incurable.  She returned home with the arm perfectly restored.


The miraculous cure of Alphonsus Diaz is not less authentic. He was a poor cripple, well known to hundreds, and begged his bread from door to door in Lima.  With much difficulty he dragged himself along on little crutches, on account of a contraction of the nerves, which had some years before so dried up and shortened his feet that he could no longer support himself upon them.  In this unhappy condition he prayed near the coffin of St. Rose, and earnestly invoked her assistance that he might be cured.  Suddenly he felt his feet stretch out.  He tried his weight upon them, to see if he could walk.  He was no longer a cripple.  He was overjoyed to find his feet once more possessed of all the vigor and elasticity of youth!


In November, 1631, an orphan babe, ten months old, named Mary, lived at the house of Jerome de Soto Alvarado, who had taken her through charity.  This little sufferer was afflicted with leprosy and was truly a horrible object.  The servant of the house, seeing that the physicians despaired of curing the child, went to the Church of St. Dominic to pick up a number of roses which had been placed on the statue of our Saint.  She took them home, and without mentioning her intention, applied them to all the marks of leprosy which appeared on the child's body.  She then wrapped her unhappy little charge up carefully, carried her to bed, and the next morning found her cured of the leprosy.  In ecstasies of joy she ran to acquaint her master.  Alvarado hastened to view the wonderful cure; and so astonished was he, that he proceeded at once to give testimony of it before the Apostolic Commissioners who were then examining the life and miracles of St. Rose.  This miracle was so public and well authenticated that, to keep it in mind, they ordered that the little girl should be called Mary Rose, which name she bore all her life.


The crowning glory of Rose of Lima was yet to come.  She was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X., who appointed August 30th for her festival.  Thus, the Church of God solemnly set the seal of her unerring approval upon that chain of wonders which extended from the cradle to the grave in the career of America's first Saint.  What a life of purity, beauty, and childlike simplicity!  In this hollow, heartless and pretentious age, it brings forcibly to our minds the profound philosophy embodied in the words of Jesus Christ: "Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."


Fray Miguel de Herrera,

Nun's Badge with the Immaculate Conception and Saints



Oil on vellum 

Fundación Cultural Daniel Liebsohn,

Mexico City

This is a combination of Immaculate Conception and Coronation image types, with the Trinity poised to place the crown on Mary, who as the Immaculate Conception stands on a crescent moon with her hands clasped in prayer. Because of the coronation, she does not have the usual circle of stars around her head. 


The Trinity is of the type that was becoming standard in the 18th century, with Father and Son pictured as an old and a young man respectively and the dove between them representing the Holy Spirit. 


In Mexico at the time badges of this type were popular among nuns and were often, as one can see, quite elaborate. 


In the margin of the image are (clockwise from the top): The Trinity, St. Joseph (lily stalk, Christ Child), St. Catherine of Alexandria (crown, wheel), St. Jerome (red cape, pen and book), unidentified saint (heart on chest, lily stalk), unidentified saint (Franciscan habit, dove in ear, pen and book – Gregory?), St. Stanislaus Kostka (untonsured youth with lily stalk, crucifix), St. Bridget of Sweden (crown of three bands, writing her Rule), St. Rosalia of Palermo (rose garland, skull, lily stalk, crucifix), St. Mary Magdalene (ointment jar), St. Rose of Lima (rose garland, lily stalk, Christ Child), St. Anthony of Padua (Franciscan habit, Christ Child, tonsure), St. Gertrude of Helfta (heart, crozier, Christ Child), St. Rita (Augustinian nun, wound in forehead, crucifix), St. Catherine of Siena? (Dominican habit, pen and book – but why the headpiece?), St. Ignatius Loyola (black cassock and cape, book with the Jesuit motto AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM), St. Francis of Assisi (Franciscan habit, stigmata, crucifix), St. Nicholas (bag of gold, bishop's mitre and processional cross), St. Augustine (heart, bishop's mitre and crozier), St. Barbara (tower, crown, lily stalk), St. Michael the Archangel (wings, armor, cross).


Saint Rose of Lima, depicted on the 200 soles bill, the highest denomination of the Peruvian currency

Virgin and penitent


Isabel Flores de Oliva
April 20, 1586
Lima, Viceroyalty of Peru
Spanish Empire


August 24, 1617 (aged 31)
Lima, Viceroyalty of Peru
Spanish Empire

Venerated in

Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion


April 15, 1667 or 1668, Rome, Papal States by Pope Clement IX


April 12, 1671, Rome, Papal States by Pope Clement X

Major shrine

Basílica of Santo Domingo
Lima, Peru


August 23
August 30 (some Latin American countries and pre-1970 General Roman Calendar)

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