St. Rose of Lima
St. Rose of Lima is the patron saint of Latin America and the Philippines. In the same way that Irish people all over the world celebrate St. Patrick on St. Patrick's day, millions of families around South America celebrate little Saint Rose every year on the 23rd of August.
'So,' you're asking, 'what's all the fuss about this time? There's no way St. Rose of Lima could compare with our own St. Patrick, who chased the poisonous snakes out of Ireland with his bare hands, and spread the good news about Jesus Christ and his kingdom far and wide.'
'Well!' I would reply, 'perhaps not... but maybe you would like to hear why this little saint is of such huge importance in that great part of the world.'
Let me begin by admitting that St. Rose of Lima could not fly. She didn't have telescopes for eyes to see into heaven or live on a cloud. She probably would have run a mile from a snake if she saw one... in fact, I don't think she even knew how to read. You may be surprised to hear this, but St. Rose of Lima was just a young ordinary girl a bit like you and me.
'Humph! I'm bored already, are you telling me there was nothing even a little different about this girl?'
'Well... there was one thing that was different. St. Rose was exceptionally beautiful.'
'Beautiful? Is that why she's a saint? Does that mean the models in magazines and pop singers on the telly are saints too?'
'St. Rose was very beautiful, it's true. As a baby, her parents named her Isabel, but as they watched her grow they soon renamed her Rose because everyone who laid eyes on her was in awe of her loveliness. Now being born almost one hundred years ago, St. Rose was a bit early for the X-Factor, but you’re definitely on to something. St. Rose could have married a very rich man. Important families would plead with Rose's parents for permission to allow Rose to marry their son when she was old enough. St. Rose was from a very poor family and a marriage like this would have helped her parents a lot, so they were keen for her to marry.'
'So... what? Cinderella round two? When does Prince Charming show up?'
'Oh, Prince Charming was on the scene from day one. You see, St. Rose fell deeply in love when she was very little.'
'She would sit peacefully with Him for hours, resting in His gentle, loving presence, her heart swelling with the most perfect happiness. Though not much was ever spoken, little St. Rose held no secrets from Him. Her face became radiant at the sound of His name and He was with her night and day.'
'Who, Prince Charming?'
'With our Lord, Jesus Christ.'
'She was in love with Jesus Christ? But I thought Jesus was in heaven? How could she know Him and spend time with Him?'
'It's very simple. St. Rose was able to be with the Lord Jesus here on earth because he is wholly and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament or Holy Communion.'
So, Rose had a bit of a problem as I'm sure you can see. Her parents were desperate for her to marry a wealthy man. That way she would live in a big warm house, with plenty of food and drink, magnificent clothing and servants who could wait on her hand and foot... which sounds pretty good! However, St. Rose had given her heart to the Lord Jesus long ago. Her only true desire was to give her whole self to her Lord who gave her His whole self every time she received His Precious Body in Holy Communion.
'So what did she do?'
'In the end, her parents bitterly accepted her refusal. They gave St. Rose a small room in their house where she could pray. She spent each day of the rest of her life serving Our Lord by sewing beautiful clothes and selling them to earn money for the poor people of her village. She grew flowers and brought them to the sick, for whom she cared night and day.'
'So she gave up the chance to live with many riches...to look after poor and sick people?'
'Exactly. You see, St. Rose knew that in receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, she had everything she could ever want and infinitely more. That's why this little saint is such an inspiration throughout her country and indeed around the world, simply because she opened her heart completely to Jesus Christ, and allowed Him to love her totally everyday of her life.