Lifetime: 1586 - 1617
Way of Life: Virgin, Tertiary
Patroness of: South America
Traditional Catholic Feastday: August 30
Modern Feastday: August 23
St. Rose of Lima

Gaspar De Flores was born in 1531 - the same year that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico. His Spanish parents were on their way to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. He spent his life in the Spanish military, and traveled throughout most of the New World that held Spain’s interest. As his active fighting days were ending, he happened to settle in Peru. He was forty five years old. There he met and fell in love with Maria del Oliva, a beautiful but worldly sixteen year old native of Lima. Gaspar obtained her father’s permission to marry her and Maria began to make detailed plans about her new life. She would now live in a higher social circle than that of her good, but poorer, parents. The most important thing was having the right house in the right neighborhood to entertain the prominent citizens of Peru’s capital. She began her search with eagerness and determination.

Maria del Oliva finally found a spot that she liked. It was a beautiful piece of land that belonged to the Dominicans. The rose bushes were the part that she liked best; they were utterly beautiful. It was here, years later, on August 30, 1556, that Gaspar De Flores and Maria del Oliva would have a beautiful baby girl. What a strange coincidence that the girl's name would be Rose, just like the flowers (which had first attracted her mother’s attention). Also, she was to be a Dominican, who owned the property before their purchase. The girl was strikingly beautiful, with a lovely blend of the whiteness of the Incas from her mother’s side, and the dark skin from her father's Spanish blood. Now the new baby was to be called Isabel, after her grandmother, but then occurred an interesting incident that would change her name. While the servant, Marianna, was watching the baby, she saw the baby's face turn into a rose. Immediately, she called for her mother. As the children came in and crowded around, they saw instead a rose floating over her head. The mother then decided to call the baby Rose instead of Isabel - much to the displeasure of her grandmother.

As was expected, Rose was a very beautiful girl. One time when she was five, she was playing with her favorite brother, Fernando, who was seven. It was right after her hair had been washed. It was a very beautiful light brown when it shined in the sun, and Rose was proud of it. They were playing Mass, with Fernando as the priest, and he was giving a homily. He said that it was bad to worry about how you look and what you wear. That is what brings girls to Hell. At the end, he threw mud in Rose's hair.

"You don't have be proud anymore now," he told her. Rose was very angry at Fernando, but after a while she thought about it and discovered that he was right. Now Rose's favorite Saint had always been St. Catherine of Siena and, like her, she decided to cut off her hair. After she did, the young girl promised Jesus that she would never marry anyone and that she would be His forever.

When Rose was five, another remarkable thing happened. It was when her mother tried to teach her how to read and write. Seeing that Rose was getting nowhere with her lessons, she gave up and told Rose to leave the room. Now that isn't very remarkable, but what happened next is. Rose then went to the statue of the Child Jesus and asked Him to teach her how to read and write. Then one morning, Rose ran up to her mother and told her that she could read and write. Maria did not believe her for one minute and was not happy that Rose would tell such a lie. Rose then showed her the letters that she wrote. Maria could not believe what she saw! They looked very nice for a 5 year old! But then the little girl told her mother that she also knew how to read. Maria told Rose to bring her a book, and she would see if she really could. Rose did bring a book and read the cover out loud to her mother, "Saint Catherine of Siena." Rose also knew how to play the guitar and the harp.

When Rose was ten, her family moved to Quivi, a small town in Peru, where her father was going to get a job in the mine. Shortly after they had moved, Rose started to hurt in her feet and soon she became paralyzed. The doctors suggested the skin of a freshly killed animal, wrapped around her, would help her condition. Now, Rose’s brother, Fernando had a pet llama that he loved very much. Without delay, he gave up his beloved pet in order to help Rose, whom he loved even more. Her mother than prepared the fur and wrapped it tightly around Rose and told her not to loosen the strings no matter how much it hurt. But Maria de Flores was a very busy woman and easily forgot about Rose. When she finally remembered to check on the patient, she came to Rose and asked her how she felt.

"I do not think the skin has helped me," answered the girl. "But I did not loosen the strings like you said, mother." Maria said it was good that she didn't. But as the mother removed the fur, she gave a loud cry in horror. In taking off the animal’s skin, Rose's skin came off too, for it had been left on too long. Now there was a big rash on her back.

"It must of hurt bad, Rose, why didn't you take the skin off?" the woman asked rather impatiently.

"You told me not to, mother," said Rose meekly. Rose had done what her mother said, but not to show her mother how stupid she was to forget about her, but she was just trying to be obedient no matter what it cost her. She did the right thing.

Rose was hoping to receive Confirmation, but she was still paralyzed and could not go anywhere. Rose than prayed very hard that she would get better, and she was cured in time to be Confirmed.

Gaspar De Flores did not like the mine job, and so the Flores family moved back to Lima. There were now 11 children in the family. Rose started growing beautiful flowers in the garden and sold them at a very good price. She also did needlepoint, which helped bring in money. In her garden, she built a hut where she would go and pray and do her needlepoint. When Rose was alone, she would take a large wooden cross, which was bigger than her, and carry it on her shoulder around the garden, as Jesus did.

One night, as Rose was going into her house, she heard a loud scream. She ran to where the scream came from, and there was a poor Indian woman who had slipped and bruised her knee. Rose took the woman into her house and fed and took care of her. That woman was the person who inspired Rose to begin a hospital in her own home for the sick of the town. This hospital lasted for many years.

Rose was 20 years old now and the problem of marriage had already been brought up, and more than once! Her mother had been extremely angry when Rose told her of the promise she made when she was five. Maria del Oliva did not like the idea that the prettiest of her children was not to be married. But Rose would have the last say. She secretly appointed her brother Fernando to take her one morning to the Augustinian convent without their parents' knowledge, where she would become a nun.

"Fernando," Rose said. "Could I stop at the Dominican Church one last time to say good by?" Fernando agreed but said to be quick, for the Mother Superior was waiting for her. Rose went into the Church and knelt before the side altar for Our Lady of the Rosary. Fernando stayed near the back of the church and soon started to get restless.

"Rose is taking an awfully long time," he thought. He went up the aisle and told her it was time to go.

"Fernando I cannot move," his sister said anxiously "It's like I'm stuck to the floor." Fernando tried to help her up while Rose attempted to rise, but they got nowhere.

"Say a prayer quick, Rose! People will soon be here to see what is going on," said Fernando. Rose realized that maybe God did not want her to be a nun.

"O Blessed Mother," she prayed earnestly. "Please help me get up. If you do, I promise I will not go to the convent and I will stay home with my family." In an instant Rose was on her feet. Fernando stared at her in amazement.

"I won't be going to the convent Fernando. We won't be late," she added with a smile.

On August 10, 1606, Rose received the Dominican habit. She was now a Third Order Dominican just like her beloved Saint Catherine of Siena. A Third Order member of a religious order means, that you live the life a religious that has been modified for a lay person living in the world. And in Rose’s case, she stayed at home, just as she had promised Our Lady. She had found her vocation and was utterly happy.

At home, Rose had a little favor to ask of Fernando. She asked him if he could help her build a little house for herself. It would be nothing fancy, just a simple brick house. Of course Fernando did not refuse. It didn't take long for them to finish it. The house was quite small, and there was one window and a small door, just big enough for one to crawl through. Rose spent a lot of time in her "hermitage," as she called it. But the few visitors she received did not like it very much. They did not like the mosquitoes, which left bites all over. Rose did not mind them; in fact she liked them very much, She said that she had made a deal with them. She let them bite her three times and offered the bites up in honor of the Trinity. Then she promised never to hurt them again, and they would not hurt her either. And it really worked!

One day, Rose was complimented on how pretty her hands looked. She then quickly put her hands in acid so as to completely deform them. Her face was also very pretty. So she took hot peppers and rubbed them on her face so she would no longer be pretty, just as she wanted. She did all this, because she understood that the only beauty that really matters is the beauty of a virtuous soul. Rose recognized that physical beauty is dangerous, because it naturally leads to vanity and sin. She did not want to be responsible for sins of envy in woman or impurity in men.

One night, Rose was awakened by a thousand knocks on her door. She went out and saw various people outside her hermitage. They were all terrified. They explained that Danish pirates were anchored just outside the town and were going to attack that night. Not only that, but they were also Calvinists and their whole will was bent on destroying every Catholic thing they could get there hands on. Rose told them that there was no need to worry. She said the Danes would not attack that night and they would leave. But the people did not believe her and begged her to pray. Rose promised that she would. All the town was in a panic the whole night long. And, as Rose predicted, at dawn the Danes just left, as if they were not interested anymore. The town was happy, as well as relieved, and they all were convinced that it was because of Rose's prayers.

Rose's health was none too good, from all of her fasts and penances. Now two good friends of the Flores family, Don Gonzalo and his wife Maria, saw this. They insisted that Rose live with them so that she could get better. They could afford it, for they were very rich, and they loved Rose very much. Rose did not want to go, but under obedience she did. Rose's health got nearly perfect after spending over 2 ½ years at the Gonzalo's home. Rose reminded Dona Maria that St. Bartholomew's feast day would be in four months. Dona Maria knew quite well what Rose meant, and she was afraid. Rose had said years and years ago that her death would be on St. Bartholomew's feast day, August 24th. Dona Maria did not want Rose to die, for she loved her very much. And Rose's health seemed so good that it was not possible that she would die that year. But Rose was sure that she would.

On August 1st, Rose suddenly fell very ill. She was paralyzed and could hardly breathe. One of Rose's last sufferings was being thirsty. Because of her illness, she was not allowed to have any water. Her condition grew worse and she was going to die. No one wanted Rose to die, and they prayed for her to stay, but she told them that the day was a happy day. At midnight, August 24, 1617, Rose Flores died at the age of 31. It was the feast of St. Bartholomew, just as Rose had said. She had stayed at the Gonzalo's home for the last three years of her life. After her death, there was a pleasant smell of fresh flowers that filled the Gonzalo's home, especially around her body.

The Gonzalo's house was flooded with people. The news of her death was everywhere in Lima. People wanted to see her, touch her, and just get a little piece of her habit, her rose, her bed - anything that was hers. The streets were filled with Spanish, Negro, and even Indian people as her body was moved to the Dominican Church. This was the same Church in which God had worked a miracle, to show His Saint that He did not want her to go into the convent. But there was even more chaos in the Church.

As was the custom, her funeral Mass was held that day. As the Mass was being said, all the people were complaining and crying so loudly that the bishop gave up. The funeral and burial were to be put off for another 24 hours. Everyone agreed with a cheer. As everyone came to look upon her, they hid scissors in their clothes, so as to snip parts of her habit off. So many people had snipped a piece of her habit at the Gonzalo home and at the Church, that they had to change her habit six times! Hours after Rose's death, her body was still warm and flexible, as if she was just sleeping. There was a 12 year old Negro boy who had never walked in his whole life. He had a crippled leg and could only drag himself around. He knelt by the body of Rose and prayed that his leg be cured. Rose heard his prayers. The boy could walk! There were also other cures by the side of Rose's body.

The people would not let Rose's body be buried. So the bishop decided that they would secretly bury her body during siesta time. Siesta time is a Spanish custom when everyone sleeps from 12-3 p.m. in the afternoon. It was then, in the stillness of the siesta, that St. Rose was buried. One interesting fact is that, during her life, St. Rose lived in the same town as St. Martin de Porres and St. Francis Solano and knew them both personally!

Only 54 years after Rose's death in 1671, Pope Clement X canonized her. Her ancestry was both from the blood of the Incas - the natives - as well as the Spanish - who discovered the land. Rose was the first Saint to be canonized from the New World.

It is true that the closer Rose grew to God, the more her sufferings increased. This is true in the lives of all the real Saints. We have to remember that these sufferings are sent by God because He loves His Saints so dearly. Suffering has many benefits, not the least of which is that sufferings will purify our soul if we bear with them patiently and offer them up to God. God has also promised to reward us for all of our good works. The more we suffer and offer it up for the Love of God, desiring only to do His Most Holy Will, then the more God will be permitted to reward us with greater glory forever in Heaven. What seems like such terrible torment, in reality, lasts a very short time. And the happiness that we will receive in Heaven is infinitely greater than the sorrow that God asks us to generously endure on earth.

And this great happiness will last forever.