St. Rose of Lima
August 23 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
St. Rose of Lima
Memorial of St. Rose of Lima
St. Rose of Lima & the Korean martyrs Church, Hampton, VA
The Golden Altar
Iglesia de San Jose
Casco Viejo, Panama
Saint Rose of Lima’s Story
The first canonized saint of the New World has one characteristic of all saints—the suffering of opposition—and another characteristic which is more for admiration than for imitation—excessive practice of mortification.
She was born to parents of Spanish descent in Lima, Peru, at a time when South America was in its first century of evangelization. She seems to have taken Catherine of Siena as a model, in spite of the objections and ridicule of parents and friends.
The saints have so great a love of God that what seems bizarre to us, and is indeed sometimes imprudent, is simply a logical carrying out of a conviction that anything that might endanger a loving relationship with God must be rooted out. So, because her beauty was so often admired, Rose used to rub her face with pepper to produce disfiguring blotches. Later, she wore a thick circlet of silver on her head, studded on the inside, like a crown of thorns.
When her parents fell into financial trouble, she worked in the garden all day and sewed at night. Ten years of struggle against her parents began when they tried to make Rose marry. They refused to let her enter a convent, and out of obedience she continued her life of penance and solitude at home as a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. So deep was her desire to live the life of Christ that she spent most of her time at home in solitude.
During the last few years of her life, Rose set up a room in the house where she cared for homeless children, the elderly, and the sick. This was a beginning of social services in Peru. Though secluded in life and activity, she was brought to the attention of Inquisition interrogators, who could only say that she was influenced by grace.
What might have been a merely eccentric life was transfigured from the inside. If we remember some unusual penances, we should also remember the greatest thing about Rose: a love of God so ardent that it withstood ridicule from without, violent temptation, and lengthy periods of sickness. When she died at 31, the city turned out for her funeral. Prominent men took turns carrying her coffin.
It is easy to dismiss excessive penances of the saints as the expression of a certain culture or temperament. But a woman wearing a crown of thorns may at least prod our consciences. We enjoy the most comfort-oriented life in human history. We eat too much, drink too much, use a million gadgets, fill our eyes and ears with everything imaginable. Commerce thrives on creating useless needs on which to spend our money. It seems that when we have become most like slaves, there is the greatest talk of “freedom.” Are we willing to discipline ourselves in such an atmosphere?
Saint Rose of Lima is the Patron Saint of:
Shrine of St. Rose of Lima
Ordinary Time: August 23rd
Friday of the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time; Optional Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, virgin
Old Calendar: St. Philip Benize, confessor
The first canonized saint of the Western Hemisphere, Rose of Lima (1586-1617) might also be considered a type of the special vocation of contemplative-in-the-world. Inspired by the example of St. Catherine of Siena, Rose became a Dominican lay tertiary and devoted herself to works of active charity while living a life of extreme austerity. She longed to evangelize the Indians, not at all discouraged by the thought that they would probably kill her. St. Martin de Porres and St. John Masias were among her friends. She died at the age of 31, praying, “Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase your love in my heart.”
Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar St. Rose’s feast was celebrated on August 30. Today was the feast of St. Philip Benize, who was born in Florence of the noble Benizi family on the feast of the Assumption, and died on the octave of the Assumption in Todi, Italy. A man of unusual ability, he took a medical course in Padua, and practiced medicine in Florence. But the medical profession left him dissatisfied, and he joined the Servite Order as a lay brother, performing the most humble tasks in the monastery. Ordained a priest out of obedience, he became master of novices and finally general of the Order. He restored peace in the civil wars of Italy, and assisted at the Ecumenical Council of Lyons. Amid all these honors, he lived a life of great humility always considering himself as the worst of sinners and deserving the punishment of hell.
St. Rose of Lima
Rose of Lima, a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, was the “first blossom of sanctity that South America gave to the world.” Hers was a life heroic in virtue and penance. She expiated the evils perpetrated by the conquerors of the land in their lust for gold. For many her life was a silent sermon of penance. Pope Clement X stated in the bull of canonization: “Since the discovery of Peru no missionary has arisen who effected a similar popular zeal for the practice of penance.”
Already as a five-year-old child (born 1586), Rose vowed her innocence to God. While still a young girl, she practiced mortifications and fasts that exceeded ordinary discretion; during all of Lent she ate no bread, but subsisted on five citron seeds a day. In addition, she suffered repeated attacks from the devil, painful bodily ailments, and from her family, scoldings and calumnies. All this she accepted serenely, remarking that she was treated better than she deserved. For fifteen years she patiently endured the severest spiritual abandonment and aridity. In reward came heavenly joys, the comforting companionship of her holy guardian angel and of the Blessed Virgin. August 24, 1617, proved to be the day “on which the paradise of her heavenly Bridegroom unlocked itself to her.”
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
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.
Symbols: Crown of roses and thorns; needle and thimble; spiked crown; iron chain; Anchor Holy Infant; roses.
Often Portrayed As: Dominican tertiary holding roses; Dominican tertiary accompanied by the Holy Infant.
Things to Do:
- Read more about St. Rose of Lima.
- If geography interests you, here is a place to learn about Peru or learn more about Lima and the Santa Rosa de Lima Festivals.
- If you might be interested in becoming a lay member of the Dominican Order you can find out more at this Dominican Third Order website.
St. Philip Benize (or Benozzi)
St. Philip had special talents for leadership and organization; he was the second founder of the Servites and a great missioner. Of him the Breviary says: “His love and sympathetic consideration for the poor was truly remarkable. On one occasion he gave his own clothing to a destitute leper at Camiliano, a village near Siena, and immediately the poor, sick beggar was healed. The report of the miracle spread far and wide, and many of the cardinals who had assembled at Viterbo after the death of Clement IV (1268) for the election of Christendom’s chief shepherd were minded to choose Philip, whose angelic life and mature wisdom were universally acknowledged. But as soon as the saint became aware of this, he went into hiding upon a hill until Gregory X (1271-1276) had been elected; for he sought to be spared that burdensome dignity.”
Philip died at Todi in Tuscany. During his last hours he requested the attending Brother to bring him his book. The Brother did not understand what he meant. “The crucifix,” the saint added. That was the book the saint had studied all the days of his life.
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Sergio Osmena, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines.
Symbols: Chariot; olive branch; red robes; surgical instruments; two angels holding three crowns.
Things to Do:
- In the former Collect for St. Philip, the Church focused attention upon humility as our saint’s most noteworthy virtue: “In the life of St. Philip You have provided for us a splendid example of humility.” The manual from which he learned this virtue was the Crucifix. Say the Prayer Before A Crucifix and spend a little time meditating on Our Lord’s humility.
Meditation: Matthew 22:34-40
Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin (Optional Memorial)
You shall love the Lord, your God. . . . [And] your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37, 39)
Songwriters have long proclaimed that what the world needs is love. But that lofty sentiment is a little vague on what love looks like or what it means to love someone. By contrast, Jesus had the weight of a thousand-plus years of revelation from God backing him up when he told some Pharisees that the greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor. The commandments themselves explain what love is and what it looks like.
So what does love look like? Here’s one way to approach it.
Look at how God loves. He delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, and he delivers each one of us out of the grip of our enemies—enemies like the pain of failed or abusive relationships, physical or emotional suffering, bitterness or resentment.
But how do we love God? By proclaiming that he—not forms of escape like alcohol, drugs, or pornography—is strong enough to deliver and restore us. We love him as we trust that God is just as willing to bring us out of patterns of sin or indifference as he was to bring the chosen people out of Egypt.
Let the knowledge of this love fill your heart. Let it move you to tell him about your love in return. Set aside the phone, computer, laundry, or bills to pray and give thanks for all the ways God has shown his love to you. As you praise him for his kindness and goodness, you are opening yourself to receive even more of his love.
And how do we love our neighbors? As God’s love fills us, it will also flow out of us. It will expand our hearts and increase our capacity to love more humbly and more fully.
More than just performing acts of service, you love your neighbors by honoring and respecting them. You love by restraining angry words or lustful and insulting thoughts. You look at people the way God sees them, with the same love that he showers on you.
Yes, the world does need love, and God has shown us what it looks like. So receive that love as often as you can—and give it away even more!
“Jesus, teach me how to love!”
Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14-16, 22