She lived from: 1586 – 1617
Feast Day: 24th August
Related Article : St Mary Magdalene
“When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus”
St Rose of Lima
Isabel Flores de Oliva was born in Lima, Peru on 30th April 1586 to a rich and noble family and was one of eight brothers and sisters. Her father, Gaspar, was a soldier in the Imperial Spanish Army and her mother was Maria de Oliva y Herrera. Isabel’s nickname was Rose as a result of a servant claiming that he saw her face transform into a rose. She later formally adopted the name of Rose, after being confirmed into the Catholic Church by the Archbisop of Lima.
She was drawn into the spiritual life from an early age and began fasting three times per week and performed severe penances. She was renowned for her beauty, but despite many male suitors, she declined a life of romance. Instead she cut off her hair, took a vow of virginity and smeared pepper over her face. She had read about St Catherine of Sienna and took her as her role model.
Rose began to help the hungry and sick in her community. She created pieces of lace and subsequently sold them to meet the needs of the poor. Despite all these good works, she began to become more reclusive and rarely left home except to attend Mass at the local church. It was during this time that she decided that she wanted to devote her life to God and to become a nun. Despite her father being vehemently against this, Rose joined the Third Order of St Dominic. Her parents refused to allow her to move to the Convent and instead she lived in a hut in the family garden. It was also in the garden that she grew flowers and sold them in order to fund her charitable work.
As time went on, Rose started to wear a crown of thorns in order to emulate the Crown of Thorns. She continued fasting regularly and sleeping less. She lived this way for another 11 years until she died at the age of 31 on 24th August 1617. It is recorded that several miracles occurred after her death.
On 10th May 1667, she was beatified by Pope Clement IX. Then on 12th April 1671 she was canonised by Pope Clement X. Rose became the first Catholic in the Americas to be declared a saint.
Many thousands of visitors come to Lima to see the shrine dedicated to her name.
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