Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Proverbs 31:30
More Than Just a Pretty Face
As one of my namesakes and patron Saints, St. Rose of Lima is very special to me. Her radically faithful life inspires me to dedicate all that I am and all that I do to the Lord. Perhaps the most iconic facet of St. Rose of Lima’s story is her beauty and how she disfigured herself so that she could focus on the Lord. While this is a significant part of her life, there’s so much more to it than that. St. Rose of Lima’s faith was steadfast, especially amidst ridicule, and she devoted herself to prayer, fasting, and mortifications.
St. Rose of Lima’s Life
Isabel Flores de Olivia was born in 1586 in Lima, Peru. Because of her beauty, she was given the nickname “Rose,” which was also the name that she took for her Confirmation. Her beauty interested all of the young men around her, but Rose wasn’t interested in marriage. She wanted to become a nun, and she prayed and fasted fervently. Every day she received the Eucharist and adored the Blessed Sacrament. To make herself less beautiful, she cut her hair short and rubbed pepper on her face until it blistered. Eventually, her parents stopped trying to marry her off, and they recognized her vow of chastity and her desire to dedicate herself to the Lord.
Rose’s life was filled with prayer and fasting, particularly in penance. She slept only two hours so that she could spend as much time praying as possible. She fasted from meat at all times. On one occasion, she burned her hands as an act of self-imposed penance. Most extremely, Rose would wear a heavy, spiked crown to remind her of Jesus’ Crown of Thorns. The spikes would pierce her head, and sometimes get lodged in her skull. Rose died on August 25, 1617 when she was 31. In 1671, Pope Clement X canonized her, and she became the patron Saint of Latin America, the Philippines, embroiderers, gardeners, and people ridiculed for their piety.
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St. Rose of Lima’s life was simple. She emptied herself of worldly comforts and distractions so that she could fill up her life with the Lord. To support herself financially, she made and sold pieces of embroidery. Of course, she didn’t earn much, but it was enough for her simple life of prayer and fasting.
Now that I’m serving with Franciscan Mission Service, I’m understanding firsthand what simple living is. It isn’t forcing poverty upon yourself or just being content with few possessions. Simple Living is letting go of literal and figurative clutter and distractions so that you can focus on what’s most important. When we live simply, like St. Rose of Lima, God has more room to work in our lives and transform our hearts. Yes, God exists outside of space, but its on us to open ourselves up, make a space for him, and welcome him into it. A beautiful way to do this is simple living, and we can look to St. Rose of Lima as one of the best examples of this lifestyle.
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