Born on April 20, 1586, in Lima, Saint Rose of Lima holds the distinction of being the first person born in the Western Hemisphere to be canonized by the Church. She was one of ten children born to Gaspar de Flores, a Spaniard, and Maria d’Olivia, who had Inca ancestry. Initially named Isabel after her aunt, she was later christened Rose, a name she later wrestled with, associating it with vanity due to her natural beauty.
Drawing inspiration from St. Catherine of Siena, Rose had a fervent love for God. She led a life of deep penance; wearing a circlet of silver representing the crown of thorns, fasting, self-flagellation, and other severe practices. These acts often brought her into conflict with her family, who found her methods extreme.
Though Rose lived an ascetic life, she remained aware of the social injustices around her. She often voiced her opposition against the exploitative practices of Spanish rulers in Peru. Aware of the suffering of the Peruvian natives, she cared for the sick and needy, bringing them into her home.
Rose’s spiritual experiences, including visions and revelations, often subjected her to scrutiny. After years of trials and an examination by religious authorities, her experiences were deemed supernatural. She spent her last years in the home of Don Gonzalo de Massa and passed away at the age of 31 on August 25, 1617.
The depth of Saint Rose’s influence became truly evident after her death, with masses mourning her passing. Today, her remains lie in the church of San Domingo in Lima. Recognized for her piety and service, Rose of Lima was canonized by Pope Clement in 1671 and is venerated as the patroness of South America and the Philippines.