Isabel De Flores Y Del Oliva was born in the year 1585 to very devout parents of Spanish-Indian heritage. Because of her rosy cheeks, little Isabel was quickly nicknamed Rose and it is as Rose that she is now remembered in the Catholic Church, as the first Saint of the America's.
From a very early age Rose would show an unusual love for Jesus and the suffering that our Lord undertook in our place. Even as a baby many people including her parents were amazed that this child would gaze adoringly at the Crucifix and nothing seemed to distract her from her contemplation of Jesus. Her understanding of Christ's suffering was almost an inherent condition within the soul of this devout child, even when she too was made to suffer through an operation she uttered no cries but withstood the pain in silence. Another time when Rose was suffering with severe earache once again she uttered no cries of pain nor were tears shed and when questioned about how she withstood such pain little Rose responded, "our Lord's crown of thorns must have hurt much more."
There was always something mysterious about the little Rose who seemed to grasp the most fundamental aspects of the Faith and most especially of prayer. When her Mother tried to teach her daughter to read and write, she gave up in exasperation, a little while later Rose came to her mother and gave her a page where she had written down some prayers. Rose's mother was most surprised and startled and upon asking her daughter how she had come to write such things, Rose surprised her mother even more when she replied very honestly, " I asked the baby Jesus to teach me, Mama, to save you the work; and He did."
When still quite young Rose's brother built her a little hermitage, and from this little building Rose would spend much of the day and night in prayer while practicing severe mortifications. Her diet consisted of stale bread crusts, bitter herbs and water, when Lent would begin, Rose also deprived herself of her bread crusts. All this seems astounding to those of us living in this modern world where going without one meal can leave our tummy's grumbling in discontent, but in Rose's era this was considered normal acts of penance.
One day Rose noted the worried look upon the face of her parents and though her father was loathe to tell her, he in end confided that he had overspent their family budget and that the creditors were now insisting he pay the money that was owed immediately upon saying this Rose's Papa exclaimed, "all is lost. It is the end." It was not the end as far as Rose was concerned and she immediately began praying that God would help her poor Papa. As Rose prepared to leave the Church with her brother, a man approached Rose and said to her, "I have this package of money, for the senorita. Give this to your father for his needs." Upon returning home her family was jubilant that their money worries were over but much more as the family now considered that Rose was indeed a special child of God.
Once when praying in Church Rose came under severe attack by the devil who sent her many temptations to try and lure her away from her first love which is Jesus. Upon finally overcoming this terrible attack, Rose questioned her Lord in these words, "Lord, if you had been here I would not have been exposed to such horrible temptations." Upon which her beloved Lord replied, "Rose, if I had not been there, do you think you would have conquered?"
One day when Rose was praying at Church with her brother, Fernando it came time for them to leave, whereupon Rose found she could not move. Growing exasperated with his errant sister, Fernando insisted that she get up immediately, usually very obedient to everyone's commands Rose found she could not move and when Fernando came to help her he also could not move his sister who seemed set in stone. Finally Rose prayed to our Lady and said, "Good Mother, if you deliver me, I promise you to go back to my mother and live at home with my parents as long as you order me to do so, instead of in the convent." After she had finished this prayer Rose was finally able to move and returned home with a puzzled and stunned Fernando.
Even though Rose had set her heart on entering a Religious Order it was not to be as her parents were opposed to it most especially her mother, this did not mean that God had rejected her and soon it became apparent to Rose that she should join the Dominican Third Order. It was also at this time while serving the sick and the needy that Rose met and became spiritual friends with her soul friend, Martin de Porres, who helped her with the sick and feeble.
Many times Rose's mother, Olivia would become frustrated at the piousness shown by her devout and very beautiful daughter, it was not that Olivia did not love her daughter indeed she did! It simply vexed her that Rose did not seem to be like other girls and long for marriage and babies. Therefore Olivia stood opposed to anything religious that her daughter wished to embrace. Then one day as Olivia lay down to rest, she saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary who said these words to Olivia, "This rose represents your daughter, my Son's cherished flower: I plucked her for Him from your garden and He will not let her go. Only see how grateful He is to you for having tended her for Him and for having given her to me!" Our Lady then showed the baby Jesus to Olivia as she lay there Olivia then saw a young woman in a Dominican habit kneel before Jesus and kiss His baby feet, Olivia knew this was her lovely daughter Rose, then Olivia heard a voice say, "Come, spouse of Christ, accept the crown the Lord has prepared for thee from eternity." After seeing this Olivia stopped all objections to her daughters need to live as Dominican Third Order.
Not all of Rose's experiences were grand there were times where she suffered the most severe spiritual aridity. During such a dark night of the soul Rose confided the depths of her anguish to her spiritual brother, Martin de Porres, as she fretted that perhaps she had offended her beloved Lord. Martin was able to comfort Rose with these wise words, "I am not at all surprised at this purification the Lord allows you to bear. I should be more surprised if you had not begun to suffer some such trial. It is the lot of those whom God wishes to raise to the highest sanctity to pass this way. You should find in the very violence of your trial a source of encouragement, since He purifies most, those for home He has destined the most perfect union with Himself!" This brought Rose great comfort as she suffered through this dark and lonely path towards her beloved Lord.
During her life there were meaning miracles attributed to Rose not only of visions but also of healings, this brought her to the attention of the Inquisition, in which through her evident piety and holiness the Inquisitors were appeased. Throughout the entire life of Rose was her utter obedience to those in authority, she never once contradicted or disobeyed an order from anyone in authority, this also impressed the Inquisition.
One of Roses last visions was of seeing herself in the middle of a beam of light which she knew extended from the source of all goodness which is God. Within the light was a beautiful rainbow of many beautiful colours also Rose saw a Cross covered in the precious blood of our Lord. Through this beautiful light Rose could also see our Lord resplendent and so bright that she could almost not bear to look upon Him, Rose was enraptured. Next to our Lord Rose also saw a set of scales and surrounding these scales were Angels and souls upon the scales the Angels placed great weights which Rose knew to be tribulations and sufferings, she also saw the weight of her own scales and knew she would suffer much. Once the sufferings had been completed the Angels then placed graces upon the scales the graces were equal to the sufferings Rose knew this meant that for every suffering there is the compensating grace which helps the soul endure suffering for the sake of love. Our Lord then spoke these words, "Affliction is always accompanied by Grace; Grace is proportionate to Suffering. The measure of My gifts is increased with the measure of trials. The Cross is the true and only road that leads souls to Heaven." Rose then felt her own soul fill with an abundance of Graces.
After this vision Rose was led the way of the Cross as she suffered immensely before she died, Rose's last words were, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!...Jesus be with me!"
Upon breathing her last, her body retained its suppleness and an odor of sanctity surrounded the body of this most beautiful Saint.
I would encourage all to read more about St. Rose of Lima.
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.