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Rose was the first saint of the New World.
She was born to parents of Spanish descent in Lima, Peru and named Isabel Flores de Olivia. Her beauty was so great that she was nicknamed “Rose,” a name that remains with her to this day. According to legend, a servant had a vision where her face turned into a rose.
At her confirmation in 1597, she officially took the name of Rose. She lived in a time when South America was in its first century of evangelization. She seems to have taken Catherine of Siena as a model, in spite of the objections and ridicule of parents and friends.
Sometimes saints have so great a love of God that it seems bizarre to us, and is indeed sometimes imprudent, for them is a logical carrying out of a conviction that anything that might endanger a loving relationship with God must be rooted out. So, because her beauty was so often admired, Rose used to rub her face with pepper to produce disfiguring blotches. Later, she wore a thick circlet of silver on her head, studded on the inside, like a crown of thorns. At one point, one of the spikes become so lodged in her skull that the crown was removed with great difficulty.
When her parents fell into financial trouble, she worked in the garden all day and sewed at night. Ten years of struggle against her parents began when they tried to make Rose marry. They refused to let her enter a convent, and out of obedience she continued her life of penance and solitude at home as a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. So deep was her desire to live the life of Christ that she spent most of her time at home in solitude.
During the last few years of her life, Rose set up a room in the house where she cared for homeless children, the elderly and the sick. This was a beginning of social services in Peru. Though secluded in life and activity, she was brought to the attention of Inquisition interrogators, who could only say that she was influenced by grace.
St. Rose died in Aug. 25, 1617, at age 31. According to legend, she accurately predicted the date of her death. Her funeral was a major event attended by all the city’s authorities. Pope Clement IX beatified her in 1667 and Pope Clement X recognized her as a saint, canonizing her in 1671.