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Santa Rosa de Lima procession - Picture Andina

Saint Rose of Lima - Santa Rosa de Lima

The patron saint of Lima, Peru, the Americas and the Philippines has her own public holiday


30 August

Already in the 17th century Pope Clemente X designated August 30 to Saint Rose of Lima, the patron saint of Lima, Peru, the Americas and the Philippines. And to the present this day is a public holiday in Peru honoring the devoted and selfless patroness.

Each year on the 30th of August a huge number of followers visit the Church and Sanctuary of Saint Rose in Lima and thousands of faithful and worshippers participate in the religious celebrations and festivities in her honor. In the historic city center of Lima a huge procession from the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo to the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas takes place.

Saint Rose of Lima biography

Santa Rosa de Lima, was born on the April 20, 1586 at the Espiritu Santo hospital in Lima to Gaspar Flores, a Spaniard, and María de Oliva of Indian descent. Although baptized Isabel in the parish of San Sebastian in Lima, from early childhood on she was called Rosa because of her lovely look and her rosy cheeks. The family of 13 children was extremely poor.

Rosa spent most of her childhood in a small mining town called Quives, an indigent place located about 70 km northeast of Lima, where her father Gaspar worked as the administrator of the mine. Already as a child Rosa was possessed with the veneration of every aspect of religion and spent hours staring at an image of the Madonna with her Child. In 1598 Rosa received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Lima’s archbishop Toribio de Mongrovejo.

Having grown into an extremely attractive young woman, her parents hoped that Rosa would marry well and then could support her struggling family. But Rosa refused to marry at all and instead decided to live a religious life following the example of Santa Catalina de Siena. She devoted herself to a life of self-mortification and solitude. Despite her family's objections Rosa practiced extreme forms of religious observance.

After her family returned to Lima, Rosa extremely fasted and then became a vegetarian. As she disliked her appearance and the attention it brought her so much, Rosa mortified her flesh with extremely hard work and cut her hair short. She even went so far as to mutilate the skin on her face and body with lye, lime and pepper and to wear a thorn crown. With this extreme self-torment and self-cruelty, she wanted to focus the attention away from her beauty towards God.

In 1605 Rosa applied to join the monastery Santa Clara, but was too poor to be able to pay the necessary dowry. So, she continued to live in absolute devotion to God on her own and moved out of her family's house into a small shed that she built by herself on their property. Rosa filled her days with praying, hard work, self-torture and supporting and caring for homeless children, the sick and the poor in her community. She offered flowers grown in her garden on the local market and sold fine needlework and exquisite embroidery pieces, which she handmade at night, to support her family and finance her charity works.

At the age of 20 she attracted the attention of the Dominican Order and was allowed to enter the Third Order without payment. Thereafter she redoubled the severity and variety of her penances. Rosa continued with her extreme religious practices and stopped eating normal food. She survived on bread and water only sometimes adding fresh herbs grown in her own tiny garden, and juices made of natural plants. Rosa now constantly wore a metal spiked crown, concealed with roses and an iron chain around her waist.

More than 14 years of Rosa’s self-imposed ordeal and chastisement took its toll and she died on the 24th of August 1617 at the age of only 31 years. Her funeral couldn't take place for two days as people queued to pay their last respects.

Already then Rosa was worshipped to such an extent that even the Viceroy, the archbishop, representatives of all religious fraternities and many public authorities of Lima attended her funeral. She was first buried in the cemetery of the Dominican convent. Later Santa Rosa's remains were moved and laid to rest in a chapel at the Church of Santo Domingo next to her friends San Martin de Porres and Alonso Abad.

In 1667 Santa Rosa was beatified by Pope Clement IX; 4 years later Pope Clemente X canonized her as the first Saint in the New World and designating the 30th of August to her. To the present this day is a public holiday in Peru (and many other Latin American countries) honoring the devoted and selfless patroness.

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