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First Latin American saint honored worldwide for piety and devotion to God and poor

2013-08-23

She lived hundreds of years ago, but her impact is no less profound. Saint Rose of Lima was the first saint from the New World, a place that today houses more than half of Catholics worldwide.   

FATHER JOSE TOLA 
Pontifical Commission for Latin America 
"She was a woman with an exemplary Christian life, a woman of constant and deep prayer. She is well known for her penitence, because she suffered from the ailments of Christ. And she spent many years of her life doing strong penitence, fasting and other sacrifices. But she also dedicated herself greatly to helping out the poor and the needy.” 

Saint Rose was born Isabel Flores de Oliva to a large family in Lima, during the early days of the Spanish colony. It was a time of expansion and conversion for the Catholic Church. 

Early on, Saint Rose displayed an affinity to religion. Her beauty was well known, and her nickname, Rose, came from her rosy cheeks. Although her beauty attracted many suitors, she rejected them all in favor of her true love. 

FATHER JOSE TOLA 
Pontifical Commission for Latin America 
"When the time came to marry her off, her parents did all they could to get her to marry, but after 10 years, they gave up. She refused because she said she wanted to consecrate her life to God.” 

In her lifetime, she also cared for the sick, eventually even turning her own home into a makeshift hospital. She also used her time to convert the local populations to Christianity. She inspired such piety and devotion, that Pope Clement X canonized her 54 years after her death in 1617, a speedy process in that era. 

FATHER JOSE TOLA 
Pontifical Commission for Latin America
"Her canonization along with others from Peru definitely had an impact on society, and their devotion. Especially in poorer areas, because that's where these saints had their greatest impact.”

As the first saint from the Western Hemisphere and because of her impact, Saint Rose of Lima holds a very important distinction, shared only with Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is also regarded as the patroness of the Americas. 


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