Dominican Saints 101: St. Rose of Lima
August 23, 2011
St. Rose of Lima (1586-1617, feast day – Aug. 23) was the first canonized saint of the Americas (1671). Baptized Isabel, she was soon given the name “Rose” after a rose was found hovering over her head when she was only three months old. She is known for her purity of life, severe mortifications, and her supernatural patience. In a time when so many people wonder how such great saints could have treated their bodies so poorly, we may question why the liturgical texts for her feast day constantly refer to her “pleasing fragrance” when she in fact led a life of such great and often bloody mortification. Yet, in the lauds hymn for her feast, we see that she is hailed as “scattering everywhere the perfume of virtues.” She was one of the few chosen souls in the modern era to be called to a life of severe penance. While St. John Vianney is noted as having said that he wished he had tempered his mortification a little, when St. Rose had the thought to give up her penitential bed, our Lord appeared to her and said, “Remember, My child, that I was not content with merely lying on stone and wood; My feet and hands were pierced, and I bore unspeakable sufferings till the very moment when I gave up My spirit. Think of this, My child, when you are inclined to yield.” While we aren’t all called to this type of penance, St. Rose does remind us of the value and merit of mortification, which can often be carried out in small ways. For through it, she rejoices now in heaven:
Rejoicing now the prize is won, the great reward for penance done; she gladly sings the anthem new as Lamb of God she follows true.” (Vespers hymn for St. Rose)
O almighty God, giver of all good gifts, in predisposing blessed Rose by the dew of your heavenly grace, you willed that she should blossom in the Indies with the beauty of virginity and patience; grant us, your servants, that hastening in her pleasing fragrance, we may be worthy to be made the aroma of Christ who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.