St. Rose of Lima



            St. Rose was born on April 20th 1586 of Spanish parents in Lima Peru. Her maternal grandmother was Incan so Rose inherited from both cultures. The Incas were a highly developed civilization and were skilled with their hands. They had high moral standards and though they worshipped the “Creator Spirit” as the supreme God, they also worshipped lesser Gods. Their faith held many Catholic teachings; the resurrection of the body, heaven, hell, purgatory, a sense of sin, confession and penance imposed by a priest. Fasts were rigorous and unlike many pagans, the Incas prized chastity.

            Rose’s mother, Oliva, grew up when the inquisition was introduced into Peru. As a result she cultivated a great distrust of extraordinary manifestations of piety, an invincible horror of the Inquisition and a violent repugnance for doctrinal error or any excess of devotion, which might lead to such. Her parents trained her well and she never swerved from the path of strict religious duty.

            Gaspar Flores, Rose’s father, said to be born in 1531, the year that his parents sailed from Spain to Puerto Rico, was tabulated as having been born there. However he is claimed by Toledo too, so we can only guess at his birthplace. As a young lad he longed to become a soldier. When no more than fifteen years old he went to Panama. An inexperienced stripling, he nevertheless managed to fend for himself among seasoned soldiers of the port. At the age of thirty-eight Gaspar was a semi – retired soldier and ready for a rest after twenty years of combat. He became a member of the viceroy’s private guard.

            Oliva was probably about sixteen years old when she and Gaspar first met. They decided to build their home on the very site where the first rose seed was planted in Peru and many roses were blooming. The place where only thirty – four years later, St. Rose of Lima grew and bloomed on that same plot: the first Rose of Charity canonized in South America.

            The wedding of Oliva and Gaspar went off on schedule and with the greatest pomp possible. After having lost three infants, Oliva and Gaspar were blessed with a daughter, Bernardina, whom they cherished greatly and they felt that they were enjoying real happiness. However it was not long before Oliva’s father became seriously ill and died. His loss was painful to all, and it brought a heavy cross to Gaspar’s household in the person of the newly widowed Isabel.

            Scarcely was she established in her daughter’s house when she began to resume her imperious rule over her daughter. In Oliva’s childhood it had been more tolerable and justifiable; it was so no longer. Oliva, determined to retain her rightful place, resisted violently. Gaspar, who had found his home a place of refreshment and joy, now found it a battlefield. To help with the expenses and cope with constantly rising prices, Oliva began a day school. She was a competent teacher. Than she gave up teaching for health reasons and soon Oliva found herself ready to begin what was a work worthy of her supreme attention; the character formation and education of a saint.

            Oliva suffered no pain in giving birth to Rose. No natural factor could account for this in Oliva’s case. She had born nine children before Rose and had suffered in each case and she suffered in delivering the three who were born after her. This fact would never have been mentioned by Oliva in giving testimony if the event had not been extraordinary. As a peace offering to Isabel, whose hypersensitivity and imperious will were making life wretched for them, Gaspar and Oliva named the little girl Isabel. Her grandmother was mollified; the baby was unusually lovely and her presence soothed the grieving heart of the bereaved woman. She was, therefore somewhat restored physically and more alert than ever when the next controversy broke out. This was the changing of the baby’s name from Isabel to Rose.

            Long before the baby’s name was changed to Rose the adolescent servant girl, Mariana, lovingly called her “my little rose”. One day Mariana, entering a room where Oliva sat besides the baby in the cradle, exclaimed “Jesus Maria! A rose without a stem or thorns where my little one’s face was!” Oliva looked up at Marianna’s shoulder. “No! It is hanging over her head!” she cried. “Do you see it, girls?” She asked her older daughters excitedly. The children rushed to the cradle, dropping their book on the stones. “Look, look at the flower!” “What’s holding it up?” “I don’t know.” Bernardina, who had wriggled nearest to the cradle, reached out to touch it. The rose vanished. Oliva snatched up the baby and rocked her back and forth tenderly. “Rose! My little Rose! Her name must be Rose, not Isabel, it is a sign from heaven”. Bernardina looked worried. She knew her grandmother’s temper. “But Mama! She is named after grandmother. Will she not be angry?” “Hold your tongue, Bernardina,” snapped her mother. “The baby shall be called Rose.”

            Why would God have worked this prodigy? In the case of St. Rose, this miracle was worked to impress on members of her household the fact that she was chosen by God in a special way. The chief doubters of her sanctity were not to be those outside the household but its own members. Later they were to reproach Rose for the miracles she worked, attributing them to witchcraft. Christian thought has always used the rose to signify charity and self – immolation, the prodigal spending of oneself for God and one’s neighbour. And these two virtues, so intimately fused, were to be characteristic of St. Rose of Lima.

            The Archbishop, Don Toribio, when hearing of the incident from his sister, Grimanesa, who was convinced that the vision was of divine origin said “I like the sound of it. Rosa de Flores; Rose of Flowers. We shall see what this rosebud will be when she opens in the light of grace.” “Where such phenomena exist, they must be examined and the persons who experience them need guidance. Who can tell? Perhaps this infant will grow up to be a saint.” The baby’s name remained a source of conflict between her mother who called her Rose, and her grandmother who insisted on calling her Isabel. Rose tried to be as good as she could to please everyone. Of course she could not; when she pleased one, she automatically displeased the other. Whole this was most violent in the case of her mother and grandmother, everyone in the family had to take sides.

            When Rose was about two years old her mind was developing rapidly. She already knew the basic truths of faith and listened raptly when, at bed times, Isabel took her on her knees to add some further items to the child’s religious knowledge. There were two pictures of Christ hanging in her parent’s bedroom, both of which fascinated the child. It was a heart – warming moment when one of the adults entered the room to find her kneeling in devout prayer before them. One of these pictures was of the Child Jesus, the other of Christ crowned with thorns.

            How deep and sincere Rose’s devotion to the suffering Christ already was and how she profited from it was revealed at this time through an accident. The child was in the kitchen “helping her elders prepare a meal. One of them left the heavy lid of the flour bin open and the toddler tried to close it. The lid slipped from her tiny fingers and fell on her thumb. The injury was serious. Two or three days later it was found that a large blood clot had formed under her nail, and the finger was infected. In agitated haste, Gaspar sent Oliva and Isabel to a fashionable surgeon named Perez de Zumeta. His fees were beyond what the family could afford, but Gaspar’s anxiety, as well as Oliva’s made the costly choice instinctive. The doctor had to reach the clot quickly; a painful operation was performed with no anesthetic. First, a portion of nail was removed than acid was applied to the rest of the nail and left for several days to loosen it. Rose’s courage was such that the surgeon marveled at it. Many years later he was still praising the child’s fortitude.

            Rose had endured continual unjust punishment all during her short life, day after day. She had never rebelled. Instead she had continued to offer her mother and grandmother an unspoiled love and trust. When she was put to bed and asked if her thumb did not hurt her greatly, she pointed to the picture of our Lord crowned with thorns. “That crown hurt worse” Already she was measuring her own suffering against those of Christ and finding them small, indeed. It was the only comparison she ever used.

            It was probably while Rose was being kept in the house on account of her wounded thumb that her mother had one of those inspirations which kept life in the Flores family from growing dull. “I am going to teach Rose her reading and writing,” she announced. “Oliva! She is only three! Use your common sense!” Isabel protested. “She is my child. If I wish to teach her, I believe that I may do so. Besides, she is more intelligent than most children of her age. I have made up my mind, Mother; so do not waste your time arguing. Bernardina, tomorrow you may buy a notebook for Rose. She shall have her own.” “She is rather young, though is she not, my dear?” asked Gaspar in a cautious tone. Usually he left the training of their daughters to Oliva. “This is my affair,” said his wife irritably. “Buy her a story, too,” she added, turning to Bernardina. “Another copy of that life of St. Catherine will do. The words are simple. It is too bad that your old one is worn out.” “If Isabel is to have her first story book, I wish to buy it for her.” said Isabel. “Rose will be quite content with the one that I shall buy for her,” answered Oliva curtly. Bernardina bought both books and, between household tasks, Oliva began Rose’s lessons. However she did not meet with the immediate success of which she had been certain. Rose, always so intelligent, seemed unspeakably dense when confronted with the letters of the alphabet. After several humiliations and spankings, Oliva thought that the child might be ready for another lesson. “Now I have made a letter of the alphabet at the top of each page, she said Rose. “Go into the bedroom and copy them. It is too noisy here.” Her cheeks aglow with self – conscious eagerness, Rose skipped into the bedroom with her pencil and notebook. Half an hour later she emerged, looking pleased. “See Mama; I have done every one of the letters!” Oliva took he notebook expectantly. This time her praises of Rose’s intellect would be vindicated. Than she frowned she gave the child a push ha almost sent her to the floor. “No! They are all wrong!” she exclaimed. Rose smiled uncertainly. “I am sorry Mama. Please show me again. I shall try hard to do better.” Oliva repeated the first lesson than she closed the book abruptly. Her voice was hard with determination. “Now, Rose, go and try again,” she said, shaking her finger at the child. “This time, be careful.”

            Some time later the small student returned. She sat close to her mother and waited hopefully for her reaction. It soon came. With a cry of disgust, Oliva threw the book across the room; it fell at Isabel’s feet. “You are stupid, hopeless! Get out of my sight! I have no more time to waste on you today!” Isabel picked up the notebook and rose from her chair. “Come to grandmother, Isabel darling,” she said in voice dripping with sweetness. “It is time for your catechism lesson. Come, I shall teach you about the baby Jesus.” Rose’s face lighted up; she slipped from her place besides her mother and began to cross the room. “Rose, stay where you are!” she snapped. “I shall tell you when to go.” “You told her to get out of your sight, mother,” remarked Bernardina, looking up from her embroidery. Rose, bewildered, turned first to her grandmother, than to Oliva. “What shall I do Mama dear?” “Go into your bedroom. In a few minutes I shall come and prepare you for your nap.” Than as the child began to obey, she added, handling her pencil and the note book: Take these with you too, if you leave them here, they will be mislaid.” Some fifteen minutes later, Rose ran back into the living room. Look Mama! See what I have written!” Oliva glanced at the page in annoyance. As she looked, she gasped. “Why, this is perfect!” she exclaimed. “I cannot understand such a change!” “In sheer amazement, she held the notebook towards her husband. Gaspar began to examine the pages and so did Isabel. While they were still marveling at the excellence of her work, Rose astounded them even more by what she did next. Taking her storybook, she read several paragraphs with ease and rapidity, although a few minutes before hand she could not have stammered a line.

            “How did you learn so quickly, Rose?” asked Oliva when the three-year-old student had finished showing what she could do. Rose’s eyes danced and her smile was enduring. “I asked the baby Jesus to teach me, Mama, to save you the work he could do.” Such is the story of how St. Rose learned to read and write. The child did not necessarily see the Infant Jesus appear to her for she simply said that the baby Jesus had taught he to read and write. I answer to her trusting prayer, addressed to the Infant, he infused into her mind a sudden comprehension of what Oliva had been teaching her. Later she was to receive many such graces when looking lovingly at holy pictures. Rose’s prayer was inspiringly selfless. She asked Jesus to teach her, not to save herself the labour of learning or for fear of punishment if she failed, but to save her mother the work of teaching her.

            When four years old Rose developed an ear infection she bore it and the surgeon’s treatment as heroically as she had borne her injury to her thumb the year before.

            To appease Isabel, and to offer her some sign of love and confidence, Olive allowed her to take Rose, who was now five years old and ready to make her first confession, to the church of her choice. Isabel began to take Rose regularly to the church of the Jesuits. Rose lost no time in petitioning the priest who heard her confession for a privilege that she had been coveting since she learned to read. In her storybook on the life of St. Catherine of Siena she had learned of the existence of a vow of virginity. She was determined to make it herself. The step was, in Rome’s eyes, the decisive step in her life, by which she fixed her resolution to live for Christ alone.

            Astoundingly, she received permission to make the vow. She presented her petition with such grave dignity and intelligence, such purity of intention and firmness of will that the priest saw in her a truly chosen soul. There would be no harm in letting her making the vow and much good might come of it. If at any time she changed her convictions as to the state of life in which God wished her, she could be freed from her vow.

            Doubtless the priest did not give his consent without first resorting to prayer, reflection and the taking of council. Whose council did he ask? As a Jesuit, that of his superior, and it is possible that he consulted Archbishop Toribio, who knew of her birth. After Rose made her cherished vow of virginity, prayer grew sweeter than ever to her. She had been thrown into the arms of God from infancy by the constant rebuffs of her mother and grandmother. As her sisters, Bernardina and Mercedes were so much older than herself; Rose was thrown on her own resources very often. While her young brothers and children of the neighbourhood enjoyed themselves in games, Rose slipped off to play in some corner alone. This play usually ended in prayer. She would pretend that she was St. Catherine of Siena in seclusion at home.

            Rose often played with her brother Fernando when he was not with his brothers or the other young boys of the neighbourhood. Fernando was two years her senior, a pleasant, care – free child who loved to tease. He was extremely fond of Rose and played willingly with her, although at times he grew too rough for her liking. To a greater extent than any of her other brothers and sisters he was Rose’s confidante, auxiliary and accomplice. Their favorite retreat was a banana tree, which Fernando had trained to grow against the garden wall so it formed a kind of hut. Under the inspiration of Rose, the two children transformed it into a quasi – shrine.

            One day Rose called Fernando with a conspiratorial gesture. “Come to the hermitage” she whispered. He wondered what was afoot, but had not long to wait. As soon as they were hidden in the leaf hut, she knelt and took off her veil. “Oh Rose! What a sight you are!” the boy cried, strangling with laughter. His little sister’s hair hung about her face in short jagged clumps. Only her very front fringe was unclipped. “I left this part long” she explained gravely, “so that when I have my veil on, no one will notice that my hair is cut. As so many girls go to hell on account of their pretty hair. I have decided to keep mine short. Now I look ugly and no one will want to marry me. Fernando continued to rock with laughter. Rose’s tonsure went undetected until that evening when Oliva decided to teach her daughters to dance and called Rose to come too. As she did so, she reached over and caught Rose by the end of her veil. The treacherous square of linen came off, revealing her downy head topped by the deceptive fringe of long hair a the temples. The mother’s scream was soon drowned in a chorus of cries. “Rose! What have you done to your hair?” Rose smiled. Now everything would be well; when she explained her reasons, Mama would understand. I did it because it is so dangerous for young girls to have long hair,” she said. “And to keep souls form being caught in my hair and being dragged down to hell. St. Catherine cut her hair too, so that must be best.” Oliva stood stunned for an instant, than she began to shake Rose violently. “Stop Oliva!” cried Isabel, rising shakily from her chair. “You will make my Isabel ill! It is no more than a childish prank; her hair will grow in again.” “Leave me alone!” said Oliva savagely. “Mother, I have borne enough of your interference. I shall punish my daughter when she deserves it, and I am going to give her a spanking that she will never forget.”

            In 1592 Rose was old enough to interest herself in praying and making sacrifices for peace in her country. That was when Spain was imposing a commerce excise tax of ten percent on the people, which was impossible for the impoverished country to pay. This caused a great unrest and the danger of revolution was real.

            At this time too Rose’s mother and grandmother began to visit a chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Dominican church and Rose felt her soul drawn towards it as to a magnet. In this chapel she was to receive some of the most striking favors of her life, which was already so rich in the promise of heavens blessings. The daily visits were never long enough for Rose. The statue of Our Lady of the Rosary is a charming statue of a smiling Madonna with a rosary in her hands, holding a chubby benign infant Jesus who blesses with one hand and holds a small, cross – topped world in the other. The expression on the face of the infant is particularly loveable. This statue would naturally attract any child, and what Rose heard of the miraculous interventions of this Madonna in the history of Lima fired her imagination and fervor.

            Rose grew up in an atmosphere of miracles. A statue of Our Lady of Copacabana was being carried in a solemn procession when the sacred image began to sweat abundantly. The miracle continued for four hours. Soon the sick and afflicted were begging for a few drops of the miraculous fluid in the hope of being cured. Besides the miraculous statues of Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Copacabana, Lima boasted others, which attracted many to chapels of pilgrimage. These images too, were reputed as miraculous. Miracles were almost taken for granted in the Lima of Rose’s time. We can than understand her casual attitude taken towards them. When she began to work miracles, Rose paid almost no notice to them.

            The strange partnership of Mariana and Rose began soon after the child’s First Communion, when her spirit of sacrifice and love sought new outlets and she needed a friend’s assistance. The saintly Archbishop Toribio was having many problems with the viceroy at the time. The viceroy seemed determined to undermine all that the Archbishop tried to do. Her father being a member of the viceroy’s private guard, Rose would hear abut the conflict. This incited her to redouble her prayers and sacrifices.

            A baby boy, Francisco, was born to the family. Rose became very attached to him and was to remain so for the rest of her life. Also she now had extra time for prayer because her mother could not spend so much time with her.

            Now the leaf hut, with its improvised altar, where she set he cherished holy pictures between candle stubs, became for Rose a dear retreat. Here she found God and poured out her soul to him. She planned for a life of solitude and charity like that of St. Catherine, whom she had taken to be her spiritual mother. Here Rose confided to the Virgin Mary and her Son her anxieties lest her parents insist that she marry. Already the child’s incredible beauty was drawing the praises of all who saw her and her mother was speaking to her of her future husband. She must make friends among those of the noblest blood she was destined for greatness.

            When Rose made her vow of virginity at the age of five, her confessor had imposed the condition that she would keep it a secret. Oliva had no inkling of its existence and consoled herself daily in her poverty that Rose would wed illustriously. It was the custom even for little girls to wear veils and their mothers would circle their brows with wreaths of flowers set over the veils. Oliva possessed the loveliest flowers in her garden, especially roses. She made the most of them and always chose the most beautiful roses to adorn her little Rose. Several wealthy ladies of the Flores family acquaintance developed a habit, which also made it easy for Oliva to dress Rose opulently. Quite captured by the child’s loveliness, her humility and simple dignity, they often gave Oliva what was left of the material that they had bought for dresses for themselves. For Rose, it was shameful for her to be so well dressed when the family was so poor. She ought not to be dressed more finely than her older sisters. She did not enjoy feasts and celebrations and begged to stay home with Mariana. How to explain Rose’s conduct concerning her mother’s choice of costumes for her, her aversion to parties and compliments, the repugnance that she showed to wearing a crown of roses? It was not from ingratitude; neither was it because she did not appreciate beauty in things and persons. It was not due to any anti–social quality in her nature. She loved people. If she had not they would not have been so attached to her. Physical charm alone does not win and hold esteem such as Rose found wherever she went.

It was the delicacy of her soul, her refinement and gentle humility that made her the object of such lavish attentions. And it was precisely that same delicacy of soul and this humility that made her shrink from the clothes and gorgeous roses that drew all eyes and hearts towards her.
            Rose had been practicing virtue seriously according to her capacity since she first began to learn the truths of faith. Virtue appeared to her the only beauty worth seeking, since it made her more like the Child Jesus. When showered with applause by the great ladies, Rose felt an inward movement of complacency in them. Instantaneously too, the assaults of temptations from devils were added to torment her. Her pure will revolted against these insinuations and against the natural movements of pride that spring unbidden from the deep – rooted egoism that all human beings possess to some degree. She fought and won the victory; yet to her mind this was not enough. She had to fly from these occasions of temptation.

            In short, out of spiritual self-defense Rose had to protest against these pretentious costumes and roses. She had to plead to be excused from attending gatherings where she was certain to meet flatterers. She had to oppose the mother whom she loved and revered, and whose will was law to her in every other matter. It hurt Oliva very much, for she never understood. Good Christian though she was, her thoughts were on a different level from those of her daughter. This divergence grew wider and deeper through the years, causing incredible pain to both. Their love for one another, under these conditions, was their heavy cross.

            Rose began to imitate St. Catherine as well as she could. She would seek out ways of being of service to the members of her family and look for occasions of hard and humiliating work. She helped Mariana who already had too much work to do. Finally Rose had penance, which was to prove the way she would take to heaven. As matter for prayer, Rose had many intentions at this time that resembled those so dear to her patroness’ heart. Every day she would hear conversations about the trouble in the country and problems between the Archbishop and viceroy. Like St. Catherine, Rose too would love Spain and Rome, the church and the fatherland, and her own dear home Peru. St. Catherine had consoled the Holy Father, warned and guided him. Rose would pray and work and do penance for the Vicar of Christ in his afflictions. Rose would spend her days and nights in the service of the Church. She would work and pray all day and than, while her family slept she would pray and work.

            All this was high planning for a child of seven, but Rose was undaunted. St. Catherine had not done everything at once; Rose too would go about it gradually and the rest would come, as she grew older. 

One of the first signs of what Oliva took for selfishness in Rose was her persistent plea for a room by herself. “Who are you, that your sisters are unworthy to share a room with you?” she asked indignantly.  When Rose replied meekly: “I am no one”< she continued scornfully: “That is right!  You are a do one who must have a private room!”

To this, Rose had only one more argument; St. Catherine had a room to herself.

Rose had asked her spiritual father for permission to rise during the night to pray.  He said she could for a short time and allowed her to make the bed uncomfortable as long as she could sleep, but while she slept in the same room as her sisters she couldn’t for they noticed everything.

Long before she finally obtained a private room, she began to cause Oliva concern by her frugality at table.  The child had excellent health and Oliva was resolved to keep her so.  But this was easier said than done.  Rose began by refusing especially her fondest desserts.  Then she started taking smaller servings of food.  Her parents worried over her apparent loss of appetite.  Whenever Gaspar could afford it, they invited guests to dinner.  Then, quite unaware of their ruse, Rose ate what was placed before her.

In other ways, Rose’s developing character and talents pleased her parents exceedingly.  In an age when blind, instant unquestioning obedience was demanded by parents, Rose’s parents could find no fault with her obedience. Only Oliva complained wryly that Rose was too obedient.  She had to take great care in her commands, for the child would carry them out whatever the cost.  Even when, for some reason, one of them proved impracticable she obeyed without objection. Oliva, to test Rose, made her ask permission to drink water between meals and sometimes refused the requests. Many years later Oliva learned how she had sometimes gone for days without, depriving her system of the water so necessary in hot weather. Rose never explained or complained.

Rose felt keenly the bickering between her mother and grandmother. To provoke a quarrel all she had to do was answer when called.

Mariana, too, felt the effects of Isabela’s rancour because she called Rose “her little Rose”. Rose suffered from this for she was devoted to the Indian maid. In an effort to soften her grandmother’s bitterness, she often spoke to her enthusiastically of Mariana’s great love of God.  It was her way of imitating St. Catherine who had striven so to bring peace to her world. She tried at the same time to bring her mother and grandmother closer together, speaking all the good that she could to each one of the other in her absence. All the while she suffered and prayed, for she felt in some way to blame for the rift between these two women who were both so dear to her.

With the help of Mariana, Rose began an herb garden and learned how to make decoctions from herbs.  The Flores could not afford to give food to the poor, thus they were happy that they could give herbal medicines to those who would come for them. This was one charity that they could afford. In spring, Rose tended her herb garden under Mariana’s supervision. It yielded way beyond their hopes. As Rose grew older she became an expert gardener.

Rose made her first Communion when she was much younger than was customary then, but her precocity and ardour forestalled all opposition. She soon was asking for daily Communion. Now when her frequent Communions and direct contact with the suffering members of Christ’s Mystical Body sent her charity soaring, she began to practice mortification. In her childish enthusiasm she enlisted Mariana as her ally. The Indian maid was to insult her, kick her, spit on her when others were not there to witness it. Mariana fought this harsh assignment with all the strength of her attachment to Rose. When she saw that it would really bring the child pleasure to be mistreated by her, however, she relented.

            Since she knew that Marina loved her with the same devotedness as of old, Rose found the maid’s insults and rough treatment less of a mortification then she had hoped. She re-read daily the life of St. Catherine and pondered on the gross insults heaped on the Son of God. She was determined to show her love by the only true proof of love: imitation. Consequently, she renewed her pleas for a private bedroom. Rose had been continuing to cause an unpleasant scene every time Oliva dressed her up for some feast or party. Above all, she had argued and wriggled uncooperatively when Oliva put on her crown of roses. Suddenly, she ceased to argue and lowered her head to receive it with all docility. The abrupt change did much to soften Oliva’s mood, even though Rose still asked to stay at home whenever the plans for any outing were discussed.

            If Oliva had known the reason for Rose’s change of attitude towards the crowns that she had formerly resisted, she would have been horrified. She arranged a pin in her veil in such way that it dug into her scalp with each movement of her head. Hence, while the beauty of her person was being extolled by the kind ladies, Rose felt the pain that this pin caused her. Her mother would have forbid this but she managed to use the pin without being noticed.

            Her parents, noticing the qualities of dignity and a humble desire to be of service, thought that it would be well to encourage this sense of dignity in her. So they decided that she should have the private room that she so coveted. Now Rose could practice penance and pray during the night. With Mariana’s help she placed logs in her mattress. A shorter log she inserted into her pillow. At this time her parents allowed her to fast several times a week.

Rose began to take an interest in music and poetry. Her parents were delighted, for spontaneous banter in the form of verse was the most prized type of drawing room wit. They obtained copies of Peruvian poems to feed her talent. She learned to pay the guitar and often sang these poems to her own accompaniment. Rose showed real skill in rendering them. As Oliva listened to her she smiled complacently. This new occupation would soon awaken in her daughter an interest in marriage. Rose tended to exaggerate prayer. These songs were more in keeping with her age. Little did her mother know, for in singing these love songs Rose thought only of Christ, to whom she was espoused by her vow of virginity.
Alas, my only true love has vanished,
From his favour I am banished.
Gone that smile that flashed so bright,
Gone my heart’s once radiant light.
How could he leave me?
Did his promise deceive me?
Ah no!  He will return.
Soon my heart will burn!
Come thou, my pleasure,
And I shall love thee without measure!

Was Rose already experiencing aridity in prayer?  It appears that she was.  How else can we explain the appeal that such songs of abandonment had for her?  Still, these times of spiritual dryness could not have lasted long, thought they left Rose stunned and bewildered. She had surely done something to displease God, but what?  How could she correct her fault if she could not find it? She began to torment herself, going over and over her least hesitation in responding to grace. Then she remembered what she had read of Christ’s agony in the garden. Being in an agony, he had prayed the longer. She asked her mother for permission to pray more during the day; when this permission was refused her on the grounds that she was needed to help with the household duties, she asked to be allowed to pray in the garden in the evenings. After some hesitation, Oliva consented.

A hobby that Rose developed was the writing of poetry. She produced poems of real literary worth. Often now, as she knelt in the garden, she sang songs of her own composition to the Christ child, to Mary and to the saints. When the presence of God made itself sweet to her consciousness, she knelt long in wordless gratitude, then she sang songs of thankful love to Him, accompanying herself on the guitar.

In 1597, Velasco, the new viceroy of Peru, offered Gaspar the post of private guard to supervise the mines near Quive, and he accepted. The Flores family then moved to Quive. They were happy to leave for the time being. Quive, some twenty miles inland from the city, was comparatively safe from the enemy.

It was in the process of moving that Oliva found out about Rose’s penance: her hard bed.  Rose was plunged in disgrace. Oliva scarcely spoke to Rose during the trip to Quive. Her reaction is easily understood. Rose might injure her health and she was hurt and grieved because Rose did it without her consent. At any rate, Rose did not have a private room in Quive; the house was too small. She was forced to relinquish her penance.

It is certain that the departure of the Flores family from Lima was a heavy cross to Rose.  She no longer had the spiritual counsel of her director each week; she could not visit her beloved chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Her Dominican confessor was no longer available to her; she had no herb garden from which to harvest medicine for her family and her beloved poor. She was forced to leave the leaf hermitage where she had passed so many tender hours in prayer. Finally, in Quive she was not to pray after supper in the garden as she had in Lima. The Indians of the Mita there were too restive; it would not be well for her to go out after dark, even in their own garden.

To Rose, the nearness of her home in Quive to the village church was one of the few consolations that she enjoyed there. She would never join the family when they went on visits or tour of the mines. The only time she left home was to go to church. Oliva continued to take her there for a daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

Rose’s older sister Mercedes too began to ask for the privilege of staying home. She was not too well, and social gatherings tired her. Rose enjoyed her companionship and together they had many intimate talks. Later, when Mercedes was too weak to leave her room Rose often read to her or sat beside her with her embroidery. Her peaceful death came soon and Rose felt it most keenly.

Soon after Mercedes’ death, Rose began to suffer from cold and numbness in her hands and feet.  The malady gained ground until she could no longer walk; the movement of her arms and hands also grew gradually impossible. She was bed-ridden, a total invalid pronounced incurable by the doctor. The grief of the family can only be imagined. They had just lost one member.  They began to realize what the sunny and obliging presence of Rose about the house had meant to them.  Perhaps the most pained was Fernando.  He had always been the closest to Rose, except for Mercedes during her last months. He often came and sat beside her bed, summoning up some semblance of his usual droll wit to encourage Rose.  But to his amazement and edification he found that she needed no encouragement. In all her pains, and the numberless trials, which her paralysis entailed, she had only one regret: she caused her family extra work. So, when Fernando’s turn came to make a sacrifice for Rose, he was ready. He made it generously

Somewhere Oliva had heard of a remedy for paralysis, which consisted in binding an uncured animal hide on the paralyzed limbs. Oliva resolved to try it on Rose. Fernando sacrificed his pet llama, which he coddled like a child, to help Rose.

Oliva bound the skin of the freshly killed llama around Rose and said, “When the proper time has passed, I shall come back and take it off.  Now do not loosen these strings no matter how it feels.  Go to sleep if you can.  Perhaps, God willing, when you awaken you may be well.”

Distracted by her many duties, Oliva forgot the time and when she did take the skin off Rose, bits of flesh came with it. Oliva exclaimed in horror and asked Rose why she didn’t call her or loosen the strings. “But Mama!  What could I do but obey you?” answered Rose. Now Rose was worse off than before.

That Sunday it was announced that there would be confirmation for the children who were ready.  Rose was ready but the bishop would have to come to the house to confirm her. But Don Toribio, the bishop, did not come to the house; she was quite well by the time that he arrived in Quive.  Rose had been resigned to paralysis and death until she heard of the coming confirmation ceremony; but her intense desire to receive the sacrament revived her interest in living. Her humility and modesty made her shrink from the thought of having the archbishop confirm her in her room, so she began to pray ardently for he cure. St. Toribio was also praying for those whom he was to confirm.

The time came when Toribio was to question Rose before she was accepted for confirmation.  The Holy Spirit had already endowed him with the charism of the reading of hearts.  When he gazed paternally on this young girl he saw beyond her incredible beauty to her more incredible beauty of the soul. He saw in her a budding saint, one vibrating with the purity of supernatural life. As for Rose, once Toribio began to speak to her and her fellow candidates, she was enraptured.  She had met so few persons in her lifetime that loved God as she did. She felt her soul kindled with fire. Her love of God and the Church, which he personified for her, increased so much during that one conversation that she could scarcely understand herself. It seemed to her that for the first time she was truly dedicated, ready to fight all God’s battles for no reward other than himself.

As Rose’s health improved she was again allowed to practice penance and could use smooth logs to sleep on. However, as soon as Oliva found them, they went the way of the others, despite their smoothness. At this time, Rose’s parents allowed her to begin taking the discipline.  This discipline was nothing terrifying. Rose made it of light rope strands twisted together at one end to form a handle and left free at the other.

The question is why corporal punishment, especially why for someone like Rose?  There is one basic motive for corporal punishment, whether inflicted by the state, parents or teachers, or by individuals on themselves as an act of religion: to satisfy for some offence.  God punishes guilt in this life, in purgatory or in hell.  Self-punishment in this life reduces the debt owed to God for sin; so that one’s purgatorial cleansing is shortened or cancelled.  Moreover it chastens the senses so that one’s propensity to sin is weakened and the life of grace safeguarded.  When performed solely from the preventative motive, self-punishment is usually called mortification.

But Christians form one spiritual body: the Mystical Body of Christ.  As the prayers of one member may assist all, so too may his penance.  God accepts this vicarious satisfaction on behalf of the souls in purgatory.  As the ancient Dominican Tertiary Rule stated: “Charity overcomes even death.”  More than this, the living can also receive help and grace through the penance of others, not only those who are faithful to God’s grace, but also the unbaptized and Christians who have fallen from grace.  These latter receive actual graces, which they otherwise would not enjoy, although God always gives every soul sufficient grace to do his will.
Theologians teach that as supernatural charity grows in a soul, the other infused virtues grow with it.  The measure of charity is the measure of each and every virtue. Applying this to the virtue of mortification and again to penance, we see that our charity is the measure of our spirit of penance.  We can therefore, expect to find in souls approaching sanctity a thirst for penance.  In the saints, this thirst becomes a craving, which is satisfied only by the limits imposed by obedience.

Rose was a lovely young girl of fourteen, poised and mature for her years, when the family moved back to Lima. Her impressions were vivid; she seemed overwhelmed. Wherever she went, she drew all eyes upon her by her captivating beauty, modesty and sweetness. As before Rose pleaded to stay at home rather than go visiting with the family. Again, her mother placed elegant veils and wreaths of roses on her head. For the sake of peace, she let her mother fuss over her, but she continued piercing her scalp with a pin each time that she had to wear one of the wreaths. Every day her mother spoke to her of marriage and plotted meetings with eligible young men. Rose dared not circumvent these plans lest she cause a storm. Yet in her heart she felt confirmed in her childhood resolution to give her love and life only to Christ.

Martin de Porres, whom Rose had known in her early childhood, had entered the religious order at Santo Domingo’s. As months passed and Rose met him frequently on her visits to St. Dominic’s especially in her sacristy work, she began to look on him as a friend. She often spoke of his virtues to others. From the first, Rose sensed in Martin holiness like that which she felt in Archbishop Toribio. She could speak openly to him of her inmost desires and most intimate thoughts on the subject dearest to her: God and His love.  Martin on his part, thought himself unworthy to speak to her, but when occasions came his way, he never failed to do so. He found her always the same: gentle, pleasant, interested in his life and problems, ready with a consoling word or a frank disclosure of her own. Besides their devotion to the order of St. Dominic and their fervent desire for sanctity, Rose and Martin had other interests in common – their charity work towards the sick and poor.  Rose had resumed the free distribution of her herb medicines. The queue became longer and soon Rose found she was being asked to tend wounds and give advice far beyond her capacity. She had to look to someone who knew how to diagnose and treat the diseases, which she met among the poor who crowded the patio of her home each morning.  That someone was Brother Martin. 

In time, Rose became a competent diagnostician and learned how to treat many diseases. It began to assume the earmarks of a profession. As time passed it was to disrupt Oliva’s careful routine and threaten the peace of the family. But for Rose it was always a joy beyond measure. She became known as “Mother of the poor”.

More of Rose’s help was needed at home. Oliva on her part eagerly seized the excuse for shifting these duties on Rose. It would place her daughter in a favourable light when potential suitors saw her so experienced and capable in household affairs. All of this work took up much of he time so while she worked she tried to recall the presence of God by ejaculatory prayers. When possible she recited the rosary while she worked.

With the practice of daily communion and its concomitants –fasting, vigils, prolonged disciplines and the wearing of instruments of penance – Rose’s life acquired a basic routine which it never lost. Her days consisted of a drab, familiar round of work on a supernatural plane.  By renewing her good intention as often as she could, she kept her heart united to God. It was neither a dramatic life nor an eventful one to outward appearances, made by the heart; this was Rose’s conviction and discovery. The more she retired from worldly ambitions, the more closely she approached heaven. God was her goal –for herself and others.

“The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent bear it away,” said our Lord; and he added: “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” Rose’s violence was turned within herself against her passions and concupiscence so that she might subject her soul to the reign of Christ.  In this battle she used every weapon she had and made no truce. How she seized the kingdom that she might open it to the wretched as a haven and home is one of the most stirring stories in Christian history. That she is a tribute to her nature as well as her grace. She was not a soldier’s daughter for nothing.

Archbishop Toribio was once again embroiled with the civil powers. To Rose his suffering was a source of pain. Grimanesa the Archbishop’s sister had confided her burden of sorrow to Oliva and she in turn had brought it home to Rose.

But just when she felt urged as never before to fill up in her flesh what was wanting in Christ’s sufferings for his church in Peru and the entire New World, Rose found to her dismay that she had become accustomed to the mortifications and penances that she had been practicing. She had reached a plateau, like many before her, on which she might have loitered indefinitely; but now she began to raise her eyes to the mountains. The saints before her and her beloved archbishop had shed their blood for the souls so dear to Jesus; she would do the same. As soon as she could, she confided her wish to her director and asked him for permission to add metal tips to her discipline. The priest understood and he himself gave her a handful of the sharp steel points. At that moment Rose was especially grateful that her spiritual father was a Jesuit. As such, he saw the issue of the king’s decree in the same light as herself. 

Is it astonishing that the priest should have given Rose those points so easily? No. As an experienced guide of souls, he knew that she was prepared to share this extent in the passion of Christ.  Her motive in wishing to endure this suffering was unsullied, sane and mature. Her body was accustomed to pain as a result of her childhood and youthful sicknesses and her past mortifications. She would not prolong the flagellation beyond the time he set, for she was obedient. The time was short, very short in the beginning. Only when it grew clear that it was not more than her strength could bear, would he permit her a few more strokes. When she had grown used to it, Rose took the discipline with points for perhaps five or ten minutes at the most. She found that enough, at least then.

Let us now look more closely at St. Rose and her discipline. It is strange that a saint who lived only for the love of God and of souls should be remembered more for her penance than her love. After all, it was love and not penance, which made her a saint. Severe as they were, her penances rank with the happy St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare, St. Theresa of Avila and many others.

To Rose it seemed that what she was doing was not enough. She asked and obtained permission for a private vow to abstain from meat for the rest of her life, and to fast on bread and water. However her confessor conditioned his permission on obedience to her mother. Oliva could command her to eat meat or any other food without causing her to break her promise to God.

Rose longed to consecrate her whole life to God by the religious vows in a community surrounded by nuns who shared her aspirations to sanctity and self-sacrifice.

Troubles began to plague the country once more together with money problems at home.  Gaspar had borrowed money for much needed expenses and now there was no way that he could repay the loan. At this time of supreme anxiety something occurred which Gaspar never forgot. It brought him his first inkling of Rose’s power over the heart of God. The anxiety over the trouble made him sick. He owed a great debt and had to pay it by ten o’clock the next day. He feared the consequences. “It is the end,” he said. 


            “Oh Papa, it cannot be the end”, exclaimed Rose. “God our Father will take care of us.  Why we are like little birds in his hand.  Did you not tell me so?”

The next morning, Fernando went to Mass with Rose. They prayed fervently for their father. On the way home a well-dressed stranger stood before them and gave Rose a package of money saying, “Give this to your father for his present needs.”

Soon after this consoling incident Rose began to suffer interiorly. Scruples about her name began to assail her. Was she called Rose through vainglory? Her baptismal name was Isabel, should she not be called Isabel? She felt such pleasure in the name. This troubled her. She was not to go back to her confessor until she had told both her mother and her grandmother about it, but she dared not mention this to either of them. Rose turned to her heavenly mother and as she prayed about her problem the statue of Mary seemed to glance maternally at Rose while the infant Jesus shook his head. Then Rose heard our Lady’s voice.

            “This divine infant approves of the name of Rose” she said “but he wants you to add to this name the name of his mother. From now on you will be known as Rosa de Santa Maria.”
Rose was filled with joy. “Oh good mother! Good little Jesus! How can I thank you?” she exclaimed. She recounted the incident to her mother who was very pleased at the outcome.

Oliva began to redouble her efforts to find a suitor for Rose. But Rose was bored by them and tried every ruse to avoid going out. At the last minute she would be attacked by a fever or beset by sick persons needing help. In desperation she sometimes acted hastily. Once she rubbed Oliva’s eyelash cosmetic, a lead compound, into her eyes. When they became inflamed and swollen her mother could not present her in public. Oliva punished Rose violently with a heavy knotted stick. Another time, Rose had removed her shoes as she was working in the kitchen and purposely stepped on the hearth as if by accident. She could not appear in company with bandages. This earned her another severe beating.

Then Oliva found out about the pin that Rose put in her crown of roses and forbade her to use it.  Rose then asked to wear a penitential band instead. Her mother consented if her director permitted it, on condition that she goes on wearing the roses. Rose’s director gave his permission. Then Rose set to work with fresh zest at gardening. By selling extra flowers she hoped to save the money she needed to buy a band.  While she worked she prayed, and her patience was amply rewarded. She noted with gratitude that her flowers kept blooming beyond the usual time. This phenomenon drew comments and orders from persons who had never come before. Soon she was able to buy the band and nails. When she wore it she felt considerable pain, but found it bearable. The nails should have been filed flat but Rose left them sharp which caused wounds all around her head. Oliva and her confessor were horrified when this was discovered. The nails were files and she wore the band that way for the rest of her life though it caused her next to no pain.

The Flores family was always poor, but there came a day when there was nothing to serve for supper but soup and bread.  There was not even a little honey for the bread. Mariana and Francisco in turn went to check to see if there was any honey in the crock.  It was as dry as a bone, Francisco declared. Rose asked to go and check in her turn and to the amazement of all she returned with the honey jar full to the brim. God had worked a miracle for Rose and her family. Another time, there was a similar miracle. The family became anxious, would this lead to the Inquisition? Oliva was filled with terror. The continual presence of flowers blooming out of season in her garden drove her to exasperation. In anguish she curtailed Rose’s gardening time. Rose obeyed, but her family doubts undermined her sense of security. She began to be assailed by fears and sorrows so heavy that in the garden she lay prostrate beneath them.


Some time later Rose increased her time of prayer and multiplied her acts of penance. She found that she could not stay awake as long as she wanted to, so she tied her long hair to a spike in the wall to awaken her when she fell asleep.

            Many people were coming to see Rose to ask for her prayers as well as for medications and cures. Her mother became increasingly worried – what would this lead to?

            Oliva’s fears became a reality when one day Mariana brought her a note from Archbishop Toribio. She blanched and took the heavy wax-sealed parchment from the maid. All her vitality left her in an instant; she shook with terror and it seemed to her that her spine would crumple. Her lips moved in agitated prayer. She had no doubt as to the content of Toribio’s message. Fatherly and beloved as he was, as Archbishop of Lima he was nominal head of the Inquisition in the New World. In his compassion for Rose he was doubtless warning her that her case would soon come under consideration if she did not put an end to her extraordinary ways.

            As Oliva feared, the note said that the archbishop would call on her the following day and especially wished to speak to Rose. Everything was prepared to receive the honorable visitor. Oliva managed to insure that the children would be away at the time, all except Rose. To Rose, it was not unusual that she was to have a distinguished caller. She did not ask who the caller might be; it made little difference to her. It was not the Inquisition after all! The archbishop would have liked to have Rose join the Religious Order of Poor Clares that he had founded. Knowing of her piety and her work for the sick poor, it seemed that perhaps she was attracted to the religious life.

            “My Lord is right,” Rose answered with a simple nod. “It is true that I have often longed for the retirement and consecration of the religious state. Still, as my mother says, I have much to do here at home caring for the poor who come for medical help, as well as for the members of our family.” As she spoke of the poor, her eyes shone and her cheeks flushed. “I would miss this work exceedingly; but if I am called to the cloister, God’s will is all. I would willingly forfeit everything for this treasure.”

            Oliva had heard enough. She was convinced that Rose would agree to enter the Poor Clares in another moment if she did not intervene. Don Toribio was about to speak again; doubtless, he would tell Rose that the cloister was God’s will for her. “We cannot thank Your Lordship enough for taking such an interest in Rose.” No way was Oliva going to allow Rose to enter a convent, even when Toribio offered to dispense with the dowry. As he was about to leave, Toribio took Rose’s hand while she knelt to receive his blessing. “The fairest rose in my garden.” he thought. Aloud he said: “Sometimes the divine gardener must be patient. He may have to wait a long time for his choicest blossom, but while waiting his pleasure in it only grows. So it will be with this Rose.” Rose flushed and lowered her eyes. Her heart was ready to burst. To think that Archbishop Toribio wanted her for his foundation of Poor Clares, and she could not go! And he would even have dispensed her from bringing a dowry! What words could convey her gratitude?

“My humble prayers go with you, My Lord,” she said, scarcely trusting her voice. “I have always prayed much and offered sacrifices for Your Lordship’s intentions, but now and for the rest of my life I shall never be able to do enough.”

            It was not too long after this that the saintly Toribio died and Rose was kneeling before his picture, her eyes pleading and full of sorrow.

            “Good father of my soul, you who in your lifetime wished to give me the joy of consecrating myself to Jesus Christ, pray for me now and obtain for me the permission that I need.” Rose made a resolution. She would ask her director and all the priests to whom she had gone to confession whether, in their opinion, God was calling her to the cloister. If their answer was ’yes”, she would go to the Poor Clares in spite of her mother’s opposition. Surely if all the priests who knew her soul were agreed that she should enter, Oliva would come around.

            Taking Fernando into her confidence, she obtained his services as escort for her visits. Her director, on learning of Archbishop Toribio’s visit and offer was emphatic that she should go to the Poor Clares. Her confessors were all in favour of her entering. However, it seemed that it would be more prudent to go to a long established community rather than a new foundation. The greater order and peace in the older community would make the atmosphere more congenial to prayer.

            On the advice of her director she decided to leave home without telling anyone. Under the pretence of attending Mass that Sunday morning Rose and Fernando, who had her small luggage hidden under his cloak, left home to go to the Augustinian nuns. The necessary arrangements had all been made.

            Passing by Santo Domingo’s church, Rose wanted to pay a visit to Our Lady of the Rosary.

            “Very well Rose, but make it brief. We have not much time to spare,” said Fernando. He stayed at the door of the church from which he could see the front gate of their house. As the minutes dragged on, he grew impatient. Three times he went to call her; she seemed not to notice him. At last he strode angrily up to her.

            “You will have plenty of time to pray in the convent,” he snapped. “Come; you are making us late.”

            Rose looked up at him, troubled and anxious.

            “I want to leave, Fernanado, but I cannot move.”

            “Nonsense,” said her brother, “Here, let me help you.” He tried with all his strength to help her up, to no avail. He could not budge her.

            “If God is doing this, find out why,” he ordered.

            Rose turned to the miraculous statue. She had already guessed the cause of her predicament, “Good mother, if you deliver me, I promise to go back to my mother and live at home as long as you want me to do so, instead of in the convent.”

            Instantly, the young girl’s limbs grew flexible. She rose to her feet and followed Fernando from the church.

            “You and your miracles!” he exclaimed, “Well, if you are not going to the convent; at least you are still a Catholic. It is Sunday, and we have not yet been to Mass.”

            Some time later, a Franciscan friar named Francis de Solano, a missionary in the purest sense of the word had a mission from God to preach the Gospel to the poor, and he lived that mission. His words were not heeded. God’s reply followed. The volcano Omate erupted. Then another more distant volcano began rumbling. Brought by force to their knees, the tardy penitents prayed for mercy. St. Francis Solano warned the people. It was time for Lima to repent of her reckless ways. If she did not, she would perish from the earth.

            Oliva and Rose had been praying the rosary. Then Rose, with her mother’s permission went out to the garden to pray and do penance. Only at dawn did she pull herself to her feet. She was covered with slashes and swelling welts, for she had scourged herself without mercy; then she had fallen to her knees. Now, as she stood before her bedroom window gasping for breath in the fog-laden air, her heart sang. She gazed at the peaceful garden and the quiet buildings around it rising like a vision from the gray air. God had heard her prayers and those of her fellow townsmen; he had accepted her penances and theirs. The city stood.

            Early that morning, Fray Francisco received an urgent message from the viceroy and the archbishop. He had preached enough. The people were in a panic and must be allowed to regain their balance. They were converted; his work was done.

            The saintly viceroy took sick and died. Less than a month later, Archbishop Toribio died. Then two more exemplary prelates died. Almost at a single stroke, the New World had lost its viceroy, its archbishop, the senior judge and the two saintliest and most energetic of the bishops after St. Toribio.

            Rose felt their loss very deeply. She saw her vision of freedom for the Indians vanish like smoke. Yet she forced herself to acts of faith and hope in God’s loving providence, and she continued to bear more than her share of her nation’s burden. It occurred to her that Peru had lost its deepest wells of prayer and penance. So she added to her own penances, until she reached the limits of her strength.

            After Toribio’s death Rose made a sorrowful pilgrimage to the monastery of St. Clare which was founded by the archbishop, and which he would have liked her to enter. But God’s plans for her were different from those, which she had formed.

            What Rose really wanted now was to know the will of God in what she should do with her life. The final answer came in the form of a miracle. It occurred one day while she was seated at her embroidery in the garden. Oliva and Juana, Rose’s younger sister, were present. A black and white butterfly alighted on her heart. It was not moving but kept fluttering its wings. Then it flew away, leaving black and white markings on Rose’s dress. Rose looked down and saw the markings over her heart.

            “It means that God wishes me to become a Dominican Tertiary,” she said gently. “I was just praying that he would make his divine will known to me, when the butterfly came. As it rested on me I had an interior light explaining what it meant.”

            Oliva did not like this. “It is some kind of magic,” said Oliva. “You have prayed for a sign, and the devil has given you one to deceive you. Go into the house and change your gown. Perhaps those stains will wash out. As for your precious sign, you will not join the Dominican Tertiaries or any religious Order!”

            In those few moments Rose realized that God was calling her to the third order of St. Dominic and she conceived an ardent desire to enter it. She had longed for the cloister, but the Dominican Tertiaries lived at home.

            Still, it is evident that the grace of this apparition did no more than crown a long series of preparatory graces that Rose had been receiving. It is such with most of God’s works of grace, in spite of an apparently sudden change of disposition. In silence and hiddenness (sic) the divine influence has touched these souls many times but its effects have not been manifested exteriorly.  Then, like the eagle, the Spirit of God swoops upon them, adding but one grace more; and all their thoughts are changed. The world marvels at the sudden conversions, the abrupt changes of heart that it thinks it sees. It was so with Rose. From her childhood, the Holy Spirit had been forming her for the Third Order of St. Dominic. Like many a soul before and after her, she found, on entering the Order that attracted her, that her spirit had been tailored to fit the rule which she then embraced.

            Rose’s first act, on learning God’s will for herself, was to take a Dominican as her director. From his guidance she hoped to learn the Dominican point of view on the inner life. She found it wholly satisfying. Rose pleaded anew with her mother to enter the Third Order. She prayed to St. Catherine of Siena, Our Lady and to Archbishop Toribio. Finally Oliva gave in reluctantly. She consoled herself with the thought that Rose could still get married.

            Brother Martin de Porres was delighted that Rose had decided on the order of St. Dominic, his own religious family. Their bond of friendship drew them closer together, so that they did not hesitate to speak frankly to each other of their inner lives. All took their friendship as a matter of course.

            At her clothing ceremony Rose received the full tertiary habit: a long white tunic and scapular, a leather belt, a coif and a white veil. Although still living at home, she looked like a religious novice. Father Velasquez, her director, presided at the ceremony. He mentioned that the original name of the Third Order was “Militia of Jesus Christ” and that the soldier’s obedience and valor, his devotedness and loyalty must characterize the Tertiary. Then he spoke of the actual name, “Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Dominic.” This name indicated its spirit. Whether married or single they were to carry this thought with them in their daily duties.” Rose was to study her Rule and attend to the formative counsels of her director. She was to be punctual and faithful in attending the monthly chapter meetings. In short, she was to model her life in all things on the example of Jesus Christ and his Virgin Mother, on the life of St. Catherine of Siena and her father St. Dominic.

            All this was boring to Oliva and at the end of the ceremony she was tired and was overcome by a strange drowsiness and she felt dazed. As soon as Rose and her mother were home, Oliva sent Rose to show her habit to her grandmother. She was still far from reconciled to seeing her daughter in a Tertiary habit.

            “Come, Mama. Rest awhile”, said Rose after she has taken off the bedspreads and removed Oliva’s shoes. Oliva seemed paralyzed but she felt no fear. Instead her soul was flooded with peace. She felt a strange nostalgia swell within her. Suddenly she uttered a cry. On a raised throne surrounded by cherubim in the midst of sparkling multicolored clouds, sat the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. She was clad in the white habit of St. Dominic. The borders of her mantle seemed sewn with a constellation of stars .She held the infant Jesus on her knee. He too wore a Tertiary habit, but without the mantle. He had a radiant white rose clasped in his hand.

            “This rose represents your daughter, my Son’s most cherished flower,” Mary said to Oliva with a tender smile. “I plucked her for him from your garden and he will not let her go. Only see how grateful he is to you for having tended her for him and for giving given her to me!”

            With these words, the Virgin of the Rosary held out her divine son towards Oliva so that she could feel his infant hand caressing her cheek.

            “Now, see the reward that my son has prepared for those who love him,” Mary went on. “This reward will be yours if you are faithful in his service.”

                        As Mary pronounced these words, the figure of a young Dominican Tertiary appeared kneeling before herself and the Child. Her habit and her mantle also blazed with glory, as she bent to press her lips to the hand of the little Jesus, Oliva recognized Rose. The mother’s cry of joy was instantaneous, but it could not be heard. It was lost in the cadences of a heavenly chant.

            “Come Spouse of Christ, accept the crown the Lord has prepared for thee from eternity.”

            Now the rose in the hand of the infant Jesus multiplied itself to form a crown of roses blazing with heavenly dew. While Oliva watched in a trance, her daughter inclined her head to receive it.
            “I am thy reward exceedingly great,” sang a seraph in muted tones.

            At these words, Rose received the Infant into her arms, pressing him to her heart while he fondled her face.

            About an hour later, Rose opened the door softly and tiptoed into the room. Her mother was as she had left her, in the armchair. She had not been to bed. When Oliva heard her come in, she opened her eyes and smiled.

            “You are not the only one who has visions, Rose,” she said. “I have just has one myself; and I must say that it was consoling.”

            It was some comfort to Oliva to see how Rose’s social life began to thrive in the circle of Tertiaries. The eager young novice found in them the congenial company that she lacked until then. Coming from every rank of society, from the highest nobility to the servant class, they shared with her the same interests, the same family spirit. She soon won their hearts by her gentle, whimsical, unassuming ways. Rose was so pliant to the guidance she was given and so ready to learn, that soon she was looked upon as the model for the others. Without in the least seeking it she became their unofficial leader.

            Now Oliva had the joy of welcoming to her home a growing circle of Rose’s friends. She noted gratefully that some were wealthy and influential. A few of these had unmarried brothers. Oliva’s hospitality to them was as warm as she could make it. As she watched Rose she saw for the first time her talent for leadership. All her gifts of nature and grace fused to fit her for it. Even her impetuosity lent force to her powers. Her enthusiasm, her quick dexterity and competence made even the older Tertiaries follow her initiatives and give place to her as organizer.

            To Oliva’a annoyance though, Rose’s generosity was too much. The family was still very poor yet Rose often gave away her clothing to some needy Tertiary. Oliva learned one day that Rose had given away her cloak. Rose had seemed so confident that divine providence would repair the loss that Oliva soon let her anger subside. Rose’s miracles mad her uneasy. She only hoped that the reparation would be made soon and not in a miraculous way. Soon after, Oliva found herself being handed a package of money. It was to buy a new cloak, the donor said. This was similar to the much earlier event when Rose had been handed the exact sum that Gaspar so urgently needed.

            Life for Rose began to be filled with many challenges. More perplexing medical cases were presenting themselves. In her doubts she consulted Brother Martin who was a physician. When all human remedies failed, she had recourse to the Child Jesus. Rose called him her “Little Doctor”. Inexplicable cures at her hands were all referred to his power and love. She was only his instrument, she said.

            When Rose was faced with a diffident person, her exhortation was firm. “Where is your faith?” she would say. When faith was forthcoming cures abounded.

            Rose had always loved the truth, now as the Dominican motto, truth became her delight and trust. To defend it, to spread it, to foster it by every means was her intent in all her words and acts. She now felt it her duty as a Tertiary to point out the slightest failure and to report facts in stark realism.

            “Excuse me,” she would say on hearing some verbal vagary, “But it seems to me that things did not happen quite as you say. As I recall them the facts are these…”

            Her zeal for righteousness showed her fearlessness and at times her lack of self-control. She once openly rebuked a group of persons of high rank who were engaged in a noisy conversation at the back of the church while Mass was going on. She was laughed at. “You may laugh,” she said energetically, “but I have spoken the truth.” Fernando quickly took her away. By her hastiness Rose had made foes for herself; from that time on, they watched her like monitors.
            Friars of the order often visited the Flores family. Missionaries about to leave would call to ask for prayers. Priests in need of vestments would be sent there by Dominicans wishing Rose to have the orders. Oliva and Gaspar welcomed them and treated them with supreme courtesy.

            Rose enjoyed these visits, but soon found herself a prey to temptation. No sooner had she taken the habit than she became a center of attention for all whom she knew. Her sensitivity to compliments was as lively as ever. She writhed inwardly in the grip of constant feelings of vanity to which she did not consent. The trial was fierce. Now it seemed to her that she had entered the Third Order so as to draw on herself the praise and admiration of the world. In her mental and emotional turmoil she turned to her spiritual father who diagnosed her fear as a ruse of the devil to rob her of her peace. She accepted his word and relied on his judgment; the scruple fled from her. With renewed joy she plunged into the practice of her Rule and strove to grow in its spirit. Since she had embraced an Order of Penance, it is understandable that she wished to extend and intensify her self-discipline. Her efforts were more zealous than prudent. She tried to use a discipline with chains, a practice too severe for most men. Later she tried the wearing of a heavy chain about her waist. She padlocked it and threw the key in the well. In time the chain hurt her unbearably and Mariana had to break one of the links with a hammer. When she took off the chain pieces of flesh adhered to it. Yet, when the wounds were scarcely healed, Rose tried again. Of course she had to give it up. Then she tried wearing a hair shirt studded with pins with filed off points. Oliva soon found out and threw the shirt into the fire.

            Why this strange desire for penance? Does it not smack of sadism? The answer is no. If Rose wished never to be free of suffering, it was first of all so that she might keep Christ company. Then, it was because souls in need were always storming at her heart. Finally it would seem that it was in order to arm herself against the assaults of the flesh.

            The devil tried a new ruse with her. Doubtless part of this trial came from her own psychological and physiological make-up, but it was stirred up by foul laviscious (sic) (lascivious) visions that obsessed her through the attacks of impure spirits. It was a cruel persecution. Her valiant repudiation of them gained for her a great increase of purity. She knew that to conquer temptations like the saints before her, she had to use the means of the saints. So she gave herself no comfort; ceaseless mortification as well as prayer is essential as a weapon of self- defense. Her bed once again became a penance, with edges of crockery fragments and pieces of broken glass that she strewed between the logs. Rose managed to get a few hours of sleep on it. As the months passed, she began to feel what amounted to terror at the mere thought of lying on it.

            At about this time, Rose was approached by a white clad caballero as she prayed alone in the garden late one evening. With a prayer she managed to wrench herself from his grasp; then she ran to her room and scourged herself without mercy. Keenly aware of her human weakness, it seemed to her that she might well have succumbed to temptation. Now more than ever she prized purity as a thing worth dying for. She fled from the least occasion of sin and fault. She knew that to be an occasion of sin and fault to others was reprehensible in God’s sight if it were avoidable. Her horror at the thought that her beauty had lured one man into sinful desire knew scarcely any bounds.

            With torture in her heart Rose was forced to attend one of her mother’s parties. The afternoon was to prove painful. In her dilemma, Rose lost control of herself and insulted her mother’s friend, committing subsequently an act as excessive as it was heroic – one of the most vehement acts of her life, and one most misunderstood.

            The frivolous lady had taken Rose’s hand, fondled it and declared that its beauty would be the ruin of many a man. Rose withdrew her hand quickly, her face blanched.

“I hope I shall never be an occasion of sin to anyone!” she cried, fleeing from the room.

“Please pay no attention to Rose’s little ways,” Oliva said hastily. “She is self conscious; compliments affect her.”

Rose went and plunged her hands into lye, hoping that they might be scarred so that no one would admire them again. Oliva swathed them in bandages soaked in oil. A month’s time saw them wholly healed.

It is clear from this incident as well as others recorded in her Process that Rose stilled lacked the self-mastery which makes the soul strong enough to cling to God through every incident and crisis. It is such calm of spirit that makes it possible for the soul to live in total union with God. He had destined Rose for the highest possible union with himself – spiritual marriage. To prepare her for this state and raise her to it, he had to purify her. It will be no surprise, then, to find that her inner trials grew acute. She had been suffering from periods of dryness for about six years; now they took on a new aspect. In the designs of God, Rose was to find her sole support in him, so he permitted that the night of the soul take a form which differed outwardly from that experienced by most souls nearing the unitive way. It was, therefore, not recognized as such by her director and the other priests whom she consulted.

Ordinarily, the ‘dark night of the soul’ is marked by a feeling of abandonment by God. The soul feels as if it is at enmity with him, and in this state the soul experiences the worst type of suffering. In Rose’s case aridity had first come in this way, but soon after her clothing as a Tertiary, it assumed the form of visions. The enemy of souls, having failed so far in his war against her, was the direct cause of these visions. But God purifies souls by means of the sufferings he permits them to endure. Only by giving Rose a special motive for clinging to him with all her strength and seeking him in the night of pure faith could he teach her the way of peace. Detachment in all things is the key to this way; it alone frees the soul from self-will so that its acts proceed primarily from the movement of grace and not from self. It is a hard road, and all must tread it who reach perfect union with God. However, all are not asked to bear it in the frightful form that Rose endured.

            For years the garden had been a source of delight for her as she prayed there alone far into the evening. In this garden she had walked and talked with God and sometimes, like Elias, felt raised by his power far above the earth. Then suddenly this was changed, and the garden of delights became a garden of agony.

            “Depart from me, cursed!”

            With terror and paralysis in her soul, Rose heard the words of condemnation hurled at her by the Saviour and Judge of all. Confusion and anguish overwhelmed her. Why was she being damned? She could not remember. But she had once loved God; she knew that. Why could she not love him now?

            “How could I offend one who is so good?” she cried.

She found herself in the midst of condemned souls, hideous with sin. Demons too, of many sorts pressed upon her from every side. Loathsome snakes, slimy lizards with distorted human faces, creatures part man and part bird, but with wings and fur like bats, swooped at her, shrieking foul things. “Forever! Forever!

Rose saw her guardian angel with the other angels before the throne. With an effort born of desperation, she tried to fling herself before him.

            “My angel! Plead for me! You have helped me in the past!”
The angel turned to her with a fearful countenance.
“Your place is with the ghosts; I have charge of you no longer.”

With redoubled anguish, Rose saw the faces of the blessed through clouds of stinking pitch. Her mother was there, her father, Fernando, all her brothers and sisters. Her confessors were there too, Brother Martin and that little Negro slave who was always tagging after him. How his face shone with glory! And now, they heard her cries and turned away from her with looks of reproach. A clamor, a chorus of shrieks, and she felt herself falling. Down, down through an ocean of fire that consumed her and yet did not kill.
“Forever! I am lost forever!”

And now, could it be true? She was in her own garden. Overhead the moon appeared, flooding the sky with silver. About her the shrubs and flowers seemed washed with silver; night birds twittered and insects sang. She was alive! She was not damned! She could still love God!
And now, her whole being vibrated with joy. God was here; she felt herself immersed in his goodness and mercy, his fatherly compassion. She was his! No longer could demons boast that she belonged to them! A wave of consolation swept through her; she felt herself transformed, as the she were no longer in the flesh.

So it would be one night, then Rose would go about her day’s work in a state of nervous exhaustion. Perhaps this evening would be different, she told herself. But then, when her free time for prayer returned….
            “Back from the throne! Go with the goats!”
Rose felt herself hurled from the judgement seat into the shrieking throng of souls distorted with malice and remorse. A flaming sword pierced her; she felt its blade pass through her vitals. Demons tortured her in every pore of her body.
“Ah my God! What have I done? Why am I here? I have loved thee once!” she sobbed.
“Hell! Hell! Hell forever!” shrieked the demons around her.

Rose felt herself torn to pieces by numberless fiends in forms so horrid that she found the sight of them as so many deaths. She was shackled and gagged now; her cries were muffled and went unheard by the throng of the blessed standing before the throne. She could hear their voices through the blasphemies and vile epithets that rose around her. They were singing a hymn of thanksgiving. Suddenly Rose cried out. Very near to Christ stood Archbishop Toribio. He would plead for her. But no, the prelate who had loved her in life as his daughter now stared at her coldly, then turned to kneel before his Lord. There was no more hope for her.
            Oh God! Oh my God! Mine no more! I must be separated from thee forever!”
What had she done? Why was she here?

Suddenly Rose found herself kneeling before the wooden cross that she had planted in the rocks when she prayed in the garden. No demons tortured her! Again she could love God!
Suddenly too, she saw her Saviour near. He was in the form of a lovely infant, kissing and caressing her, filling her soul with bliss. Close to his heart he hugged a rose, the symbol of herself. “This Rose is mine.” He whispered. “I shall never let it go!”

At first Rose managed to hide her trial from Olivia, but her face was pale and her smile forced. Her mother was not long in asking why. Rose told her candidly what was happening. Olivia was stunned. Thinking it was epilepsy; Olivia wanted Rose to see a doctor. Her daughter convinced her that it was not epilepsy and that they could not afford to see a doctor, when they only earned enough for food and clothing.
Rose would be found in a trance and could not be shaken from it. Her parents were worried yet Rose would not see a doctor. Her director was the one to help her, she thought. But no one whom she approached with her trials was able to help her. She went to her confessors and was told that she had abused her health with excessive penances, and nothing could be done. In desperation Rose turned to her lifelong friend Martin de Porres. He understood her and was able to help, for he was going through similar trials, though not the same. It takes a saint to understand a saint.

She was informed that these trials were permitted by God. “It is the lot of those whom God wishes to raise to the highest sanctity to pass this way. You should find in the very violence of your trial a source of encouragement, since he purifies most those for whom he has destined the most perfect union with himself.” Martin told her. Rose felt courage mounting in her heart. “Then why have the priests with whom I have consulted not understood, Brother?” she asked.
“God wills it, that is all,” he said. “While you have support from creatures, you lean less on him. Enter into his rest in the midst of all you suffer, although you neither see nor feel his support. This is what I do myself, Sister,” he added. “You see you are not alone. My trial is not the same as yours, yet in God’s plan it is perhaps meant to serve the same end.” Rose returned from her talk with Martin strengthened in hope. It was well that she had gone to him. She was to find herself in the same trial almost till the end of her life. Her talks with Martin now meant more to her than they had before. They were like oases in a desert.

Other trials also beset her. She had prayed earnestly and done penance to obtain better treatment for the Indians. This did not come about. For Rose it was as though someone had let down a trap door beneath her. Yet she still hoped in God. He would bring good out of this breach of justice; meanwhile she would do all she could in the way of prayer and penance and the offering of whatever pain came her way. She soon had much to offer. The damp atmosphere of Lima during six months of the year had always caused her oppression of the chest. She was afflicted with asthma and now she suffered from arthritis.

This was enough, combined with her nightly visions of hell, to make Rose’s life a constant torture. Still she did not lose her courage. As far as she could, she went on caring for the sick that came to her. Not satisfied with what she was doing for the poor, she decided to build an infirmary behind her home so she might take on the care of bed patients, She helped Mariana mix mud and straw and fill the adobe brick molds.

When she could kneel, she went serenely to her gardening as though nothing had happened. Olivia reproached her in vain. Rose was determined to ignore as much as was prudently possibly. Lifting bed patients became part of her daily routine. When her arms were too stiff or she could not bend her back, Olivia replaced her unwillingly. For Rose to assume this extra work when she was ill herself seemed to her mother sheer folly.

Some four years later, in 1613, came a crisis that shook the whole nation. For the religious orders of Peru, it brought ruthless exposure of their failures. For the king of Spain, who had received his title to the western colonies in virtue of his promise to Christianize the Indians, it was a humiliation before the Pope and the whole world.

Some time previous to this, a zealous diocesan priest named Francisco de Avila, armed with a keen mind, and inquisitive eye and his Indian language dictionary, attacked the barriers posed by the language, customs and hatred of the Spaniards. He meant to reach the souls entrusted to him, to make himself as far as possible one of them. He dealt kindly with their harshness, bore their insults with calm, and gradually won his way into their confidence. Then came the revelation. The Indians were idolaters as well as Christians. They saw no sin in their dual cult.

Father Francisco began to explore other districts with the utmost caution. As the time passed, he reached the conclusion that idolatry was almost as widespread in Peru as it had been at the time of the conquest. Christianity had been forced on them from without, yet inwardly the Indians kept their own faith. To them it represented their entire lost heritage.

The violence of Rose’s grief on learning this is understandable. She had devoted most of her prayers and penance to their welfare all her life. They were lost unless… It was this “unless” that sent her sense of the possible shooting sky high. Her mind was wholly taken up with the thought that she might gain for them a true conversion. This meant frantic efforts to revitalize the work of the clergy. This in turn required the conversion of many priests from tepidity or worse. It was much to hope for, yet Rose soared above all apprehensions. She never faltered in her trust in God’s copious grace.

Still, Rose found her former peace shaken; her ordinary prayer had been changed to one unbroken act of tense petition. She wept and agonized; yet her aridity grew. She found no comfort in this petition; as she flung herself God wards, God receded. Where he had formerly been waiting, she found nothing. Rose thought this state would pass, but it did not. She found that she could not think of God. She was obsessed by one thought: what was happening to her Indians. Gradually her soul seemed to have dried up for want of God. She felt as though she had offended him somehow. To solve her dilemma she began to use ejaculatory prayers. She decided to use the names of God every time she took a stitch when doing her needlework and when engaged in other tasks not too absorbing.

Father Lorenzo, the provincial offered to find all the names of God in the Bible for her. He was glad of the opportunity to make the acquaintance of the young Tertiary whose miracles were the talk of the parish. Of course the continual presence of out-of-season flowers on the altar was a fact that faced him daily. Then too, he had noticed her rapt expression when at prayer.  Sometimes, especially when she received Holy Communion, her face was transformed in a way that made him wonder if the glory of the blessed would differ from it. Recently the Provincial had heard a story that made him wonder even more what was passing in the Tertiary’s soul. She had been saying the Office in the garden, and when she bowed at the Gloria Patri, the shrubs and flowers bowed with her.

About four months later Rose received the list. There were one hundred and forty names of God. She divided them into fifteen verses of ten ejaculations each, ending with a Gloria Patri. Then she made five petitions, praying for freedom from adversity and peril. So, as she worked, she would be praying “God Spirit! God Immortal! God perfect! Generous God! Clement God! Meek God!” etc.

 “Prayer is the great pharmacy where we can find the medicine for all our ills.” Rose told her sick. They voiced their agreement and followed her movements with grateful eyes. She would gesture to the statue of the Infant Jesus, which she had set in the window. “There is your little Doctor,” she would say, “it is he who will cure you; I am only doing his work and his will.” No disease was too loathsome for her to treat, although her stomach might turn. She set fragrant rosemary in wide-mouthed jars here and there throughout the room to help clear the air. She fought her repugnance; but she never lost it until her death. During one Lent, when the new archbishop was trying to call a council to deal with the Indian scandal, Rose simply stopped eating. Nothing but Holy Communion passed her lips except for five pomegranate pips a day, which she chewed slowly to keep their bitter taste in her mouth as long as she could. During this time she began to make the Stations of the Cross in anyway that suited her spirit, but made her mother shake her head.

First she would scourge herself without mercy, then taking a heavy wooden cross, make the rounds of the garden, meditating on the various stations as she went. To her this was no more than a sincere showing of her will to share Christ’s sorrows. To her mother it seemed like spiritual excess.

Rose was trying to find a director. She loved obedience and looked on it as a guarantee of safety. In her fears and desolations, she needed a guide prudent and well versed in the ways of God with souls. One day she came home, her face radiant with joy. But when her mother found out that it was Father Lorenzana the provincial, she screamed and jumped to her feet, dropping her fragile handwork on the floor. Tears began to flow from her eyes, and her voice rose to a shriek. “Oh my God!  What will become of us! You have taken the Inquisitor as your director! You are going to open your soul to him! Daughter you are mad!”

With the help of her new director’s calm counsels, Rose regained her spiritual balance. The use of the names of God, which he had looked up for her, still provided a balm for her soul, as did the writings of the Venerable Louis of Grenada.

More intensely now, Rose felt the need for privacy and silence. Her director gave his consent for her to get her mother’s permission to build herself a hermitage, As a sacrifice, Rose gave up her sole possession of worth, a coral rosary. Brother Fernando, the sacristan on duty, took it and hung it round the statue of Our Lady’s neck. To reach the statue he had to use a ladder. When Rose came back later to pray, the beads were in the Infant’s hand. The brother was confounded; he had not moved them and no one else had access to the ladder. “It is surely a miracle, but what can it mean?” he asked. Rose knew. She was to keep after her mother until she had her consent for the building,

Soon, Rose had her hermitage. Not long afterwards, Rose became gravely ill and was given the last anointing, She pulled through the illness and while she was convalescing, Olivia paid a visit to Father Lorenzana. She wanted leave to destroy Rose’s penitential bed. This she obtained and lost no time in doing it.

When Rose resumed her ordinary life, she found Father Lorenzana firmer in his discipline. He now commanded her to curtail her penances. He allowed her only a hundred strokes a week and if at any time she felt unwell she was to leave off the penance. Rose nodded meekly, although it cost her something. It was a great sacrifice; but God was asking it of her.

At an opportune time she went to her hermitage and began to scourge herself. Since she had not done so for several days, she made up for lost time by using all her strength for every blow. If she had known that she had an audience she would have stopped sooner. It was her friend Isabel. Isabel had already gone to Father Lorenzana begging him to force Rose to have mercy on herself. He had assured her that she had already had her wish. She therefore assumed that Rose had disobeyed and her anger knew no bounds. She had thought Rose was a saint; now the reverse seemed true. She was a fraud, this saint whom half the nobility of Lima sought as an oracle! Isobel went straight to Father Lorenzana. He was in a bad mood. He had just received a complaint about Rose; she practiced witchcraft. She healed by magic arts; a light was seen shining around her grotto when she was there at night. Now he listened to Isabel with mounting impatience. He had been deceived!

When Rose came as usual for her direction, he dismissed her saying that he was not her director. He was not the one she obeyed. Father Lorenzana, at the time was very preoccupied with other more serious problems so he soon put the matter out of his mind.

Later on a man who admired Rose and wished to get more acquainted with her took as an excuse to ask about an order for collars. Rose was not deceived. She greeted her caller coolly and added a sermon. “Ah good Jesus”. She exclaimed, “How admirable is thy patience! And you” she added, turning to Vincent, her caller,  ”know that there are no secrets from God. You are here for quite another thing than this affair of collars.” Rose went on more kindly now. “What does not lead to God is a lie; what flatters the flesh endangers salvation. Do you not know the dangers you risk in letting your eyes enjoy what they wish? Is it not written: ‘He who loves danger shall perish in it’?”

Though mortified, Vincent grasped one fact during this speech that was her ardent love of truth that made her urn on him and that she seemed to care about him. If her interest were in his soul, he would use this means to win her.

For Rose, she was already ashamed of her outburst. He did not deserve it. She took him into her friendship. If she could strengthen this soul and lead him to God, she would spare no words to do so.

Rose had never told others of her vow of virginity, but now she must not let Vincent cherish any delusions as she allowed him to call on her daily. It was strictly on a basis of friendship with no tinge of courtship about it. For this reason she told him that she had vowed her life to Christ.

Vincent took the blow manfully. He loved Rose enough to take what she gave him, as long as it was affection of some kind. She strove to arouse in his soul a life of piety, and he followed her guidance as simply as a child.

When some weeks had passed and Vincent still came to see Rose without proposing, her parents grew anxious. One evening Gaspar drew Vincent aside and asked what his intentions were. Great was his dismay when Vincent, with tears in his eyes, answered that he had none. How could he when Rose was pledged to Christ! She had made a vow of virginity.

Gaspar controlled himself in the presence of Vincent, but when he had gone, Gaspar charged into the room and in raging words he assailed Rose for taking her vow against their will. Obedience to one’s parents was the law of God. How could she think to please him by disobeying? What followed was hysteria – Olivia, then Juana, then Rose’s two brothers raged at her. Then with a cry of anguish she rushed from the room. No one pursued her. They realized that they must compose themselves; visitors were due to come for supper.

Olivia informed Rose that from now on, Sunday Mass and Communion would suffice. She was not to go every day any more. Rose took this outburst calmly. She had been through so much that she was emotionally drained. It was only later, as she knelt in her hermitage and began to follow the Ordinary of the Mass in spirit, that the fullness of grief came over her, but God caught her up into himself and she was consoled.

One of the Tertiaries, noticing the absence of Rose from Mass, went to reproach her. “Pardon me Sister,” Rose answered, “I do not stay home of my own accord. But how generous God is! Every morning for these past three weeks I have been able to go to three or four Masses in spirit, at Santo Domingo’s, at the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, at St. Sebastian’s or St. Marcel’s. From this revelation, it is clear that Rose now enjoyed the gift of being present in some mysterious way in several distant places. Others who had noticed her absence from Mass drew the same conclusions as this Tertiary, but acted less openly. So it was that one day Rose had callers. Father Lorenzana and his fellow inquisitors had come to examine her spirit. They went into the home. Olivia and her visiting friend were allowed to attend the examination. Although Rose was grateful for their concern for her, to see them suffer on her account was an added trial.

To Rose’s surprise, Father Lorenzana did not question her, nor did the other priests present. It was Doctor Juan de Castillo, a medical man, he could judge when a suspect was a mental, not a physical case. He was the one examiner whom she did not know. He began with a general question as to how long she had practiced prayer. She answered that she had done so from her earliest years. She spoke of her sense of the presence of God within her; the happiness she felt in it kept her from finding consolation elsewhere.

Had she ever read books on mystical theology? Rose shook her head. She had never had such books at her disposal. “Experience alone has taught me the little I am saying; that is why I have so much trouble in making understood what takes place within me. I do not even know if my kind of prayer has a proper name.”

Don Castillo then explained Rose’s prayer to her in words that leave no doubt as to what degree she had already reached. She had been in the dark night of the soul long enough to be purified of most impediments to divine union. She had already entered the third stage of the spiritual life, the unitive way. Human faculties do not reach this kind of prayer by their own efforts, he told her. God himself raises the soul to it. It is not an acquired science; it is a kind of infusion that comes from the Holy Ghost.

Maria de Uzetagui smiled and nodded at Olivia. She however, did not return the smile. She was in a state of shock, nothing that passed around her registered, although she heard it. The doctor’s manner would have bewildered her, had she fully grasped its import. She had steeled herself for threats, denunciations, accusations of false mysticism or a declaration of insanity. At the very least, she had looked for a medical diagnosis of Rose’s visions as epileptic. Instead of this the doctor was speaking to Rose paternally. “In this state,” he continued, “the spirit is first wholly stripped of earthly things, then filled by the Lord by a wholly heavenly light and inflamed with a very pure love which, to the creature, is a kind of foretaste of eternal joys.”

Rose breathed a prayer of relief and thanksgiving. She had not been deluded after all! With lightening heart she listened as the doctor went on to explain her prayer in more detail. Then he asked how long and how she had fought the evil inclinations of nature, the demands of self-love, the vices, and the passions. She explained that from infancy she had been drawn to practice virtue; of some involuntary movement arose in her against good, she had only to recall God’s presence to repress it.

The doctor smiled. Inwardly, he himself prayed for light. This was usually the most vital moment in an inquisition, the moment when false virtue tore off its mask, when delusion showed itself, when malice and pride revealed their vain disguises. He phrased his next question with care, yet easily. He had often asked it.

“The soul does not rise to the degree where you are without passing through trials. Tell us if you have suffered contradictions or persecutions on the part of men?”

A frown passed over Father Lorenzana’s already grave countenance. What would Rose say? He himself was present as her judge, and he had cast her off as his spiritual child. Then her mother too was present, and as Rose’s former spiritual director, he knew something of the intimate family trials that centered on her. In these trials Olivia had been foremost, acting as aggressor. How could Rose tell the truth without wounding charity? But he silenced his thoughts.

Rose was speaking. He watched the movement of her lips for the slightest grimace that might show insincerity. “The singularity of my life has sometimes merited vexations and insults.” She drew a deep breath. Her examiners waited tensely for her next words; would she inveigh against those who have troubled her? If she did it was a danger signal. True charity alone means true sanctity. This formed the key to her soul that would soon lead them to knowledge of her true dispositions. “But I had to bear troubles more terrible than those which come from men, these are interior desolations.”

It was all Father Lorenzana could do to keep from clapping. “Bravo Sister Rose,” he murmured to himself.

Rose had turned all the accusations against herself rather than others by drawing attention to her way of life and calling it singularity; then she had done what he knew was more heroic for her than a thousand disciplines to blood: she had herself introduced the question of her inner trials, the very trials that had brought on charges that she was deluded or unbalanced mentally.

“Can you describe these desolations for us, Sister?” asked the doctor. Rose began to speak of her visions of hell and the judgment. Olivia was still in a daze, but she caught the gist of what her daughter was saying and her heart sank despondently. Now the paternal manner would change; now she would hear Rose’s life stripped of its deceptions and delusions. What would happen to those miracles, those incredible fasts and penances? Would they not be called the work of the devil?

Now the doctor asked Rose how long she had experienced her visions of the judgment and demons. Rose told him. “What advice have your directors given you on these experienced?” he asked.

“I have sought help from them without success,” she answered in a gentle voice, sad yet full of resignation. “Some have not understood the explanations I have tried to make of the source of my torments; yet I am not surprised, for I cannot explain myself well.”

Father Lorenzana’s facial muscles relaxed. His tension was lifting. Again Rose had denounced herself and spared those who had caused her suffering. If this soul were deluded, he could wish all souls were so deluded.

Doctor Castillo asked Rose to describe what she felt.

“The torment of fire would seem little beside these interior pains”, she said slowly. “The visions that appear to me and the terrors I feel are so ghastly that they would suffice to tear my life away a thousand times if God did not safe it by the miracle”. The young Tertiary paused; she drew in her breath sharply. The sound was audible in the grave silence. “I can say like the prophet-king”, she concluded, “the sorrows of hell have surrounded me, and I am in the toils of death”.

            The doctor leaned forward and grasped the arm of his chair. He seemed to have forgotten that there were others in the room besides Rose and himself. “When you see these thick shadows”, he said in a voice full of pity, “conceiving the hope of seeing them and, you suffered the desolation of souls held fast in purgatory, when on the other hand, the hope of escaping was taken from you, you felt something of the pains of hell”.

            Rose nodded.

            “Now, why does God send you such torments? Because they teach your soul to know yourself and him. In passing thus from light to dark, from dark to light, she sees on the one hand her own nothingness, on the other what she has from God; on the one hand she is in herself, on the other what God does in her. Several saints canonized today have passed through the furnace in which you yourself have been thrown; they asked God to spare them this trial, offering to bear every other trial but that, which proves what it is in violence”.

            Oliva’s face wore a look of incredulity. What was she to think? Was this the doctor’s method of questioning, to gain the confidence of the person being examined and so bare the truth? Maria de Uzatuqui began to smile; the worst was over. Rose’s case was being heard sympathetically.

            “Now, will you tell us what happens to you on leaving this hellish night?” the doctor asked.
            Rose remained silent, trembling and blushing. The priest frowned in disapproval; Oliva sat stunned.
            “I asked you, Sister, to tell us what happens to you when your are freed from this night”. Doctor Castillo repeated.

            Rose still sat with lowered head, her cheeks burning. Oliva roused herself and gave her daughter a nudge. Still the Tertiary did not speak.

            “Sister”, the Doctor’s voice was now razor-edged, “I have asked you twice to describe your experience on leaving this hellish night. You do not answer. I remind your that your must. To fail again would be a sign of ill-will”.

Maria de Uzatequi’s lips moved in a prayer; she fingered her beads.

Rose began to speak. She told her examiners of her joy on escaping these visions, of her sense of union of God, refreshment and transformation in him.

“In these happy moments”, she added with hesitation, “I feel convinced that my union with God is consummated forever; and I feel sure of never losing his friendship again. There is in me a gift that I cannot explain, but which tells me that I shall never sin more, and I can say with Saint Paul: Nothing will divide me from the love of Jesus Christ, not death, nor life, nor hunger, nor thirst, nor anything that is in this world.”

            Then she revealed the reason for her hesitation. She had feared that what she was about to say would seem false doctrine, for as she told them: “I know indeed, that the elect alone are confirmed in grace; and still, since I am ordered in the name of obedience to say what I feel, I cannot hide the fact that, in these moments, this conviction is in me. ”

            Rose did not know it, but mystical theologians think it likely that souls reaching the state of spiritual marriage are confirmed in grace. As St. John of the Cross puts it, “the faithfulness of God is confirmed in the soul”. Now Rose hat not yet experienced this in a way that could tell her that she had reached this state; this was to come later as the spiritual climax of her life. But baring the conviction that she had in this regard, she was simply giving more proof of her unitive state and firm rectitude.

            “After the martyrdom I bear in hours of darkness” she added. “I often see our Lord in the form of an infant or a young man full of majesty. At other times it is the Blessed Virgin Mary who appears to me with a sweet and lovable face, a thousand times fairer than I could say.”

            Half an hour later, after many questionings on her visions, the illuminative way, the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the hypostatic union, the real presence in the Eucharist, the glory of the blessed, predestination and grace, Father Lorenzana rose to his feet. His countenance wreathed in smiles, he turned his eyes to heaven and spread out his hands in a gesture of gratitude. “I give thanks to thee, Father, because hiding these things the wise and prudent, thou hast shown them to the small and humble.”

             The Inquisition was over. It remained for the other priests to give their opinions.

            “The Holy Ghost speaks through the mouth of this child”, said Father Louis de Bilbao. “He alone could have given her a knowledge like that which shines in her.”
            The other priests nodded; Dr. Castillo smiled.

“And now”, said Father Lorenzana, “how shall we word our conclusions?”
            Methodically the doctor went over the ground he had covered; the priests discussed every point with him. At last they had their verdict in writing. The Inquisitor read it with relish.

            “First that Sister Rose of St. Mary, has reached the prayer of union by the most direct way and almost without passing through the purgative way, the Lord having drawn her heart to himself from her tenderest years. Second that she has borne with that she has kept, in this state of abandonment and desolation, a perfect submission to God’s will.”

            As the examiners were bidding goodbye to Oliva and Maria Uzatequi, Father Lorenzana drew Rose aside.

            “Sister,” he said earnestly, “there is one thing I wish you to tell me for the love of God. In doing so you will not be defending yourself. I beg you to tell me, did you exceed the permissions I gave you?”

            Rose shook her head.  “No, Father.”

            The priest pressed her hand paternally and with a voice full of sadness, he said: “I have been hasty in my judgement. Forgive me please.”

            Rose flashed her smile upon him. “It was nothing. Would you be kind enough to direct me again?”

            “After what I have done to you? Surely you cannot wish that, Sister?”
But, as he saw Rose about to protest, he added quickly: “If you wish it, I shall do so with pleasure. If it suits you, I shall see you on Saturday as before.”

            Rose had her director back, but she still could not go to daily Mass or Communion. There was no one at home to take her. Mariana would have done so gladly, for it grieved her to see Rose confined to her home and deprived of what she held dearest. But her mother kept them busy from early morning until evening. And although Rose had been found blameless by the inquisition, she blamed Rose endlessly. In her mood of the moment, she would have died rather than do her child a favour. The whole family was against her. She had brought humiliation upon them. They kept after her to change her ways or she would end up on the rack or in the fire. Her enemies were gossiping. Indeed it was the scandal that Olivia felt most, for it was great. Rose was so well known because of her beauty and her works of charity.

            Some of Rose’s friends were faithful to her. Vincent kept calling daily as usual, and his friendship was a joy to Rose. He took every possible means to refute the rumours about her. Still every time he visited her, his visit was followed be renewed scenes with the whole family. She was threatened, mistreated, humiliated; all with the aim of making her ask for a dispensation from her vow of virginity. She had only to ask the confessor, and she would be free to marry.

            In the Flores household there was only one person besides the enfeebled Isabel who took no part in the persecution. This was Mariana. Only God knows what she suffered at Rose’s distress; yet she could do nothing to stop the outrages heaped upon her.

            Among Rose’s faithful friends was one couple, Angelino Medoro and his wife, Maria de Mesta. They had private evidence of her power with God. Their marriage life had been wretched by Maria’s violent temper. Outbursts of fury, followed by equally vehement tears of contrition had brought the household near despair. Maria decided to confide in Rose and ask for her prayers. Soon thanks to Rose’s good will, the Medoros where living in peace.

            The de Maza’s, friends of the Flores, saw that Rose’s presence made life painful for the whole family and sympathized with them, but Rose was their darling. They loved her as a daughter. So they asked if she could come and live with them. Oliva and Gaspar gave their consent because there was just nor peace in their household. Rose had no say in the matter. She was stricken by her family’s attitude; her anguish was cruel. Of course, she felt grateful to the friends who were coming to her rescue with such love.

            In leaving home, Rose was leaving herself. Her transfer to the Maza home marked the outset of the final stripping of her soul of all save God. During the time of severe trials, she had received signal mystical graces. Towards the close of her life she summed them up as “the mercies of the soul.”

            The first mercy was the piercing of her heart by a lance, which left her inflamed with love. The second mercy was the burning of her heart by the Infant Jesus. Rose left charming illustrations of all her mercies; her illustration of this shows an empty heart with part of an artery attached. In this artery a hefty black cross is planted. In the middle of the heart, sits the Infant Jesus wearing a plain white halo. The extraordinary thing about the infant is that he seems to have no hands. His hands are plunged into the heart.

            Other mercies she had received show signal work of the Holy Spirit in her. Wounds of love were received in different forms with different effects. At one time a ray of light, at another time inflicted a wound by an arrow. Then a crucifix was implanted in her heart, followed by the wound of the nail, the wound of the fire, the wound of fever, the wound by a harpoon, the wound by a dart and a wound by lightening She has drawn a cross reaching full length from the top of the artery to a distance far beyond the tip of the heart. Then as she is about to leave home, she depicts her heart sending forth flames and winged with love, but the immense cross is still there, plunged deep into her body. At the bottom of this cross she has written “La vida es cruz.”

            Life was indeed a cross for Rose when she left home and family. She lost many things that were dear to her. First was her privacy; she shared a room with the de Maza’s’ two daughters. She could no longer take care of the sick. There was nothing left to her but prayer. She was far from the church and could no longer make daily visits to her favourite shrine; she could not tend the altar as she had done for years. She could not confide in Brother Martin or share in his joys and trials. She rarely saw him again. Rose also left Mariana, her firm and loyal friend since her infancy. For both of them, Rose’s departure was kind of death.

            Gaspar grew very feeble. Soon like Rose’s dear grandmother, he was confirmed invalid. Rose had been close to them both and now missed them sorely. She longed to care for them in their illness.

            To most of her friends her life there seemed easy. She had moved to one of Lima’s most distinguished homes; she hat left a feuding family for one where all was harmony. Its members reverenced her; but this did not please her. She had been happy in her garden. She had lost that too.

            One day Rose surprised Maria. She asked for writing paper to write to her brother Fernando. “I am going to give him a piece of my mind. He has married without telling us.” Then Rose went on “And do you know what the good God will do for them? He will give them a daughter who will be very holy. And when she is born she will have the mark of a rose on her forehead.”

            Not only was this prediction fulfilled, but also Fernando’s daughter entered the convent, which Rose was just then trying to found. She lived and died there like Olivia herself; and the rose on her forehead was a constant sign of her aunt’s protection from heaven.

            Another time, a miracle took place when Maria went with Rose and her daughters to the family oratory to pray. They stayed a few minutes kneeling before the Ecce Homo, which hung above the altar. It was a perfect work by Angelino Medoro. As often-happened Rose was carried out of herself when she knelt before this picture. “Lord when will all men love thee as thou dost deserve to be loved?” she exclaimed. “How long wilt thou let sinners offend and outrage thee? Who will make known to all how good, how lovable thou art for thine own sake, not for rewards? Bend thy bow, Lord; let fly arrows of love on every side, that they may pierce hearts! May all men adore thee, O thou the supreme Good! May all their love focus on thee, who dost love them so tenderly!”

Rose had scarcely stopped speaking when one of the Maza girls cried: “Look, Mother! The face of our Lord is covered with sweat!”

            They all saw it and called for Angelino and the priests. There was no natural explanation for the event. “I do not think it is a sign of the divine anger”, said Rose. “The Saviour, simply wished to recall to men the ardent love he has for them, to excite them to return it.”

            “Why that is what you were saying just when the miracle began!” Maria exclaimed. “You asked him to let fly arrows of love on every side so that they might pierce hearts; this is what he has done. Who can look at the Ecce Homo bathed in sweat without feeling a greater love for him?”

            Not long after this miracle Rose broke her arm. The doctor could not restore life to it. It was useless. Then Maria taking a piece of cloth soaked in the miraculous sweat bound it on the dead member. Life came back to it at once.

            Rose knew that she had not too long to live now, yet she went calmly on with her daily tasks. She still did sewing to help her family. She spent long hours at prayer in the de Maza’s chapel.

            Many came to ask for her prayers. One appeal that is recorded was for a Jesuit who was dying; he hat lived a good religious life but now faced eternity in frightful scruples. Rose understood his anguish, for she had suffered from scruples. She made a bargain.

            “Tell him, she said, “that I exchange half of my merits for half of his. I am sure I shall not lose by it.”

The exchange was made, to the father’s great joy. He died relieved of his scruples, filled with childlike confidence in God. As for Father Loaiza, when he heard Rose’s words, he smiled gratefully. He had once directed her and he knew that she had only half her merits to offer, as she had already given half to a diffident missionary.

            Rose now centred her thoughts on seminarians. She wanted to adopt a young man with no resources, who longed for the priesthood; she wanted to work to earn his tuition as long as she was able. Martin de Porres promised to find one for her.

            Rose wanted to see Father Lorenzana, so Brother Martin sought him for her. He found him in his office.
            “Little Rose is in the sacristy waiting to see you”,
Father Lorenzana looked up from his work. He smiled. “This Rose whom you now call little, the whole world will one day call great,” he remarked.
            A few more months would elapse, and before Martin could find the seminarian she wished to adopt, she would be dead – hailed by the church of Peru and her people as “Mother of the poor.”

            Lent came and Rose asked for and obtained a room to herself. She chose a small room in the servants’ quarters. She had Father Lorenzana’s permission to sleep on a hard bed again. Her interior trials at that time are not known, but she was still grappling with demons. Once, in a cellar she met one in horrible guise; a wonderful thing happened. Rose was not afraid; she ordered him off, and off he went!

            That Lent brought her powers to fresh heights of beauty and maturity. Even her natural talents, for singing for instance, were still more perfected. Her adopted family noticed this; their wonderment grew. She still lived on bread and soup. Her very life was a quasi-miracle.

            Each day at sunset, a bird came and sang with her a song that she had composed. Then it flew off at her bidding. Unnoticed by Rose, Maria and her two daughters came to her door and listened to the strangest duet ever sung. For an hour Rose would sing alternately with her bright-eyed, feathered caller. Then at her signal, it was time for him to leave and she sang the last verse alone.

            On Palm Sunday at church while waiting in line to receive a palm branch, Rose was joyfully eager to receive hers. She inwardly spoke to Jesus saying that she was happy to carry it in his honour and that it was a symbol of her soul, which would always praise him and move in harmony with the slightest breeze of the divine Spirit. Its greenness was the hope she had of being allowed to make the three vows of religion, even though not in a convent.

            Somehow, the sacristan missed her and she was the only one without a palm. Grief seized her. Was she displeasing to God? Was this a sigh that she would not make the vows? When the procession and ceremony were over Rose slipped alone into the chapel of the Rosary. There she poured out her woes to the Consoler of the Afflicted. Little by little, calm came back to her and her soul was filled with the sense of God’s presence. Suddenly, the lips of the Infant Jesus seemed to move. His words were distinct.
            “Rose of my heart, be thou my spouse.”
It was the mystical marriage, the highest state in the soul’s life of union with God. St. John of the Cross sums up this state of the soul as “complete transformation into the beloved.”

Rose’s reply is worthy of note. The same words that Mary used: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” Rose added: “I am your servant, Lord, I am the docile slave of your ageless Majesty. Yes, if you wish what I should not dare, I shall be yours and ever be true to you.”

Rose yielded herself entirely to Christ; he gave himself wholly to her. Her soul though human, was divinised. She knew no evil, having lost all evil habits such as she ever had, and she was innocent. Love alone absorbed her; she had lost particular notions and forms of things. God’s purity, God’s simplicity were hers. She was cleansed and empty of all but him.

            The statue of our Lady inclined towards the kneeling Rose and spoke: “See daughter, the rare honour Jesus deigns to pay you in taking you as spouse in so wondrous a way. Can he better prove the greatness of his love?”

            Rose was filled with gratitude. She could only say that her soul was now wedded to Christ’s and that she believed forever.

            Fernando had a ring made for her. It had the inscription “I.H.S.” and inside the words: “Rose of my heart, be thou my spouse.” Rose took the ring to the sacristan at Santo Domingo and asked him to put it inside the altar of repose. “Father Provincial will know about it,” she said
“You can give it to him.” Then Rose planned a solemn ceremony. She invited her mother and some close friends. Father Lorenzana agreed to officiate. Rose had told him of the graces received on Palm Sunday, and he well knew their worth. He was going to bless the ring and place it on Rose’s finger when she received our Lord at the Easter Mass. But God intervened with his own plan. As Rose bent her head at Communion time, there on her finger was her wedding ring. How had it been put on? By no human hand, but by Christ’s power.

             It was time for the faithful receive. Hastily, Rose slipped the ring off and hid it in the palm of her hand. She could pass it quickly to Father Lorenzana. He would place it on her finger as agreed. No one would know of the miracle.

            Usually, the soul does not stay long on earth once it has attained his highest union. So it happened with Rose. Her first intimation of death came during prayer. She saw herself in a radiant light that flowed from the Godhead present everywhere, a light that seemed to extend without limit. In the midst of the light stood a brilliant rainbow, incredibly varied and lovely. Under it stood a second rainbow, equally radiant, bearing in its centre a cross, bedewed with blood. Over it was inscribed the words: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Nail holes could be seen in the cross. In the space within the double rainbow stood Jesus. Never had she seen him clothed with such glory. How could she fear the pains of death, which would bring her at last to this beloved goal! The flame that gushed from his heart penetrated her soul; she seemed freed from the flesh and carried to heaven.

Jesus spoke, “Affliction is always accompanied by grace; grace is proportionate to suffering. The measure of my gifts is increased with the measure of trials. The cross is the true and only road that leads souls to heaven.”

            Rose had no sooner grasped what he had said when she felt herself seized with so burning a zeal that she wished to run through the streets and squares crying out like the Baptist: “Christians, listen to me! Delude yourselves no more about pain! Trial is the road to perfection! It is by this that we reach beauty of soul, the fullness of grace, the Glory of God’s children! Believe me; I have learned it even from the mouth of Jesus Christ!”

            While Rose felt this impetuous ardour, God gave her his cross. She knew when she was to die, and what pains she would suffer. She knew that those pains would exceed all those of nature, especially an excruciating thirst. Jesus himself had asked for a drink when he was dying; could she not to the same? And something else would be needed when all was over: hands to prepare her body for burial. No curious person must see her body, scarred all over by Scourges. They would think her holy; and she knew herself to be the vilest sinner on earth.

            These are the thoughts of the saints, their estimates of self so far from those that we form of ourselves. Seeing their impurities in the light of God’s spotless purity, they seem to them lethal. Seeing their evil propensities, they look on what they are of themselves, what they would do of themselves, and they shudder.

            Rose asked Maria that she and her mother Oliva be the only ones to touch her body when she was dead, to prepare it for burial. Also, that when she was devoured by a burning fever and asking for water that she, Maria, would bring her a glass of water.

            Soon after the vision in which she learned that she was to die in four months, Rose paid a visit home. She wanted to make sure of this farewell to all her loved ones. Her brother had business to attend to elsewhere, so he escorted Rose to Santo Domingo, promising to call back in two hours. “Do not let me find you kneeling like a statue in the chapel,” he said with a laugh. He had not forgotten the miracle that kept Rose form entering the Augustinian convent.
            That afternoon, when Rose saw Father Lorenzana, she told him of her vision of the Sacred Heart. She told him that she was to die at the end of August, on the eve of the feast of St. Bartholomew. She described the pains that she would suffer and asked him earnestly for prayers. He assured her of his prayers but added that he hoped God would change his mind and not take her yet. Then Rose asked to see Brother Martin and asked for his prayers. “I am in dire need of prayer Brother Martin,” said Rose “I have before me a trial such as I have never experienced and shall never experience again. To pass through it according to God’s will, I must have extraordinary help. It is for you and my other friends to obtain this grace for me. Without it I shall fail.” Martin shook his head and assured her that she would not fail.

“There is no comparison between this trial and what I have suffered in the past,” she said. “In it there will be nothing natural. All will be far beyond the strength of any mortal to bear. But blessed be God who gives me this share in his cross! It is my death of which I speak. It will come on the vigil of St. Bartholomew.” For many years others had come to her asking for prayers now she gently forestalled them, pleading for theirs.

So the time passed until, late one evening, Maria de Uzatequi and her husband found Rose, lying on the floor of her room. Her groans had attracted them, but they came too late. They carried her upstairs to her bed in their daughters’ room. She was paralysed on one side.

When she had prayed for suffering, she had imagined no torments like these. She felt as though a hot iron were being passed over her whole body, from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet. At the same time a sword of fire pierced her heart. A ball of red-hot iron seemed to roll across her temples; her head felt crushed in an iron helmet and struck by the blows of a giant hammer. The fire that raged within her reached the marrow of her bones; pains racked each joint, as though her body were being torn apart. Each member was given up to its particular torture. Her bones were slowly dissolving into dust; they were being scorched and reduced to cinders. Her life was being taken little by little under the action of these torments; surely, her prediction would prove true and she would die tonight.

“May God’s will be done in me without reserve” she said. “My sole affliction is the pain I give to those who care for me.”

            But the thirst! She could bear it no more! Jesus understood; he himself had felt this fierce fire. She was alone for a time, as she had asked to be, that she might prepare for her judgement. But surely, of all her loved ones downstairs, someone would bring her a glass of water! She listened intently. Was that not a footfall outside her door? Was that not the rustle of a woman’s skirts? No – it was her thirst that had caused this illusion. There was no one outside; she was going mad with thirst. Oh, would not her Jesus send someone to help her? With a stifled sob, Rose clasped more closely the crucifix she held in her arms. What a coward she was! What had Jesus not suffered for her! Would she dare refuse him? “Do not spare me then, Lord, while this illness lets me breathe. Do all thy will in me; weigh down the measure of sufferings, but increase my patience!”

             With her unparalysed hand, she kept handkerchief after handkerchief held to her mouth to stanch the blood. Still it flowed in streams, gushing forth from between her cracked lips. A phrase from the psalms came to her. “Lord, do not rebuke me in thy fury nor chastise me thy wrath; the voice of my blood cries out to thee for mercy. It is my blood that I was away my sins to find grace in thy sight.” If only someone would bring her a drink. Would her holy angel not send help? He had helped her so often. Would he fail her now?
There were footsteps at her door. Someone knocked gently and slipped into the room. Rose raised her eyes and saw the servant girl Inez, with a tray in her hands. On the tray stood a glass, but it was not of water! It was a thick, cloying essence that they mixed with some healing extract. This was the drink, exquisite and sweet that they brought to her in place of gall and vinegar! But she could not force it down her swollen throat. Even the savour of its sweetness redoubled the fire of her thirst.

            “I cannot take this drink,” she told the servant. “It is impossible, my throat will not open to receive it.”
            “My master will not be satisfied, as it is by his order that I bring it to you,” said the servant.

            What could she do? As she had done all her life: in her crisis she turned to her guardian angel. He had not brought her water, but he would help her swallow this drink for love of obedience. With a superhuman effort, Rose drained the glass, forcing the thick essence down her throat. “Go and tell your master that I have been able, by his order, to do what was impossible to me by nature. Even at the gates of death I forget not a whit my dependence on him.” She let her hand fall back on the bed and clasped her crucifix close. Like the furnace of Babylon, she felt the fire within her stoked to sevenfold heat. Now it was surely the end! She would never live until midnight! Yet she had been so sure of the time!
            The young Tertiary kissed her ring, that blessed memento of Jesus” love for her soul. It was the sign of her wedding with him. She had not the vows of religion, for these were denied her. The answer hat not come from Rome. Death was snatching them from her, with her dream of the cloister. Yet her Spouse was coming. Was this not enough? “I thirst!’ she murmured. He thirsted for her love, and for its fulfillment in her.

            Now Maria entered. She knelt beside the bed and whispered consoling words, but Rose did not hear them. She had lost consciousness. In the flickering lamplight, her face gleamed with translucent brilliance. Was this her last agony? Startled and fearful, Maria called her husband, Rose’s parents, her brothers and Father Lorenzana, who was reciting his breviary in the chapel. It was a chastened Flores family that grouped, with the de Maza’s round her bed.

            Now that Rose was dying, they began to feel shame and confusion. Oliva and Gaspar, who had always loved her but whose hopes for her future had been blighted by her life of prayer and penance, felt their coming loss to the full. This was the second daughter they were to lose, and the one who had long been their favourite. As for Fernando, he and Rose had been close since their childhood. His Chilean bride shared his grief. As she entered the room, Rose came to herself. Seeing her parents weeping, she let them express their sorrow. Then she turned to her father, who was seated in a chair near her bed. He had been carried from his own bed to see her.

            “I am going to leave this life you have given me; I beg you and my mother to bless me.”
            They blessed her.
            “Have you been sleeping, daughter?” Oliva asked.
            “No, Mama. I have not been sleeping. Sleep will come to my eyelids no more. Have no illusions about me; I am nearing the end. Still, I must drink the chalice prepared by my Beloved, to the dregs.”

            Now Father Lorenzana approached the bed. He had stayed in the house since early morning. He had helped Rose review her life; he had placed on her tongue the Living Bread, the pledge of eternal bliss. Rose had renewed her private vows and the formula of her profession as a Tertiary, with her scapular spread on the bed before her. He had said the prayers for the dying with her, not once, but several times. He had watched at her bedside during her frequent ecstasies. Now he looked gravely at his penitent. What more could he do? He had to go home to his convent; in his office, a whole day’s work was waiting to be done before Matins.
“My child, I can stay no longer today. I shall come back very early in the morning,” he said softly.
            “But Father,” Rose protested, “I beg your Reverence not to leave without giving me your last blessing!”
            “I shall give it to you then.”
            “But I shall not be alive in the morning.”

            What could he say? Did he dare claim that she did not know the future? He blessed her and left the house. Outside, he met Angelino. Gonzalo had summoned him, bidding him bring his oils. He was to paint Rose’s portrait at last, not in life as he had longed to do, but in death. But he would have to work in haste. He would have to finish her portrait that night, by the light of the wake candles. He brushed back his tears. His work must be perfect. He owed it to Rose; and he owed it to the world.

            After an interval of coughing and spitting blood Rose turned to Maria and asked for a glass of water to keep the promise she had made four months before. With tears flowing down her cheeks Maria hat to refuse. It was doctor’s orders.
            Oliva was weeping inconsolably, Rose pleaded with her not to weep, saying: “The suffering is just for a time; the body is used up, and the soul remains.”

            One thought consumed Rose. She had tried to live like Jesus. In death she would follow him. He gave his mother to St. John. To whom could she give hers? Her father would not live much longer and Fernando was married. So, raising her eyes to her mother she pronounced the words of her last will and testament. “Lord, I return her into thy hands. Strengthen her; uphold her; and do not let her hear be broken by sorrow.”

Then Rose asked Fernando to put her on the floor.

“I wish to die not on a comfortable bed, but as my beloved died for me.”

            “No,” cried Oliva. “Do not lift her! She already suffers so.”

            “Then at least take away the pillow,” she said.

            With gentle hands, Fernando supported her head and removed the pillow. A candle was brought at her request and Rose repeated three times the holy name of Jesus. “Jesus be with me!” And as she spoke, he came. It was just striking midnight.
Olive withdrew from the room, filled with a joy she could not hide.

            Yes, Rose had gone into an ecstasy, the final and endless rapture prepared for all who die in Christ. Many streets away, in another quarter of the city, Luisa lay asleep. Suddenly, a bright light wakened her. She saw Rose beside her, rising to heaven in an aureole of glory, surrounded by saints and angelic choirs. Her gleaming white habit was strewn with roses. Another person in the death chamber saw her crowned. Still another lady, pious and prayerful, saw her crowned by the Virgin Mother as Oliva had on the day of her clothing.
            In his choir stall Father Lorenzana intoned the Te Deum.
            Rose was freed from her body and welcomed in the New Jerusalem.


            Arriving very early the next day at the de Maza’s home as he had promised, Father Lorenzana knelt beside Rose’s body as it lay in the coffin, clothed in her white Tertiary habit and crowned with roses from St. Catherine’s statue.

            “O Rose, blessed be the authors of your days! Blessed be the hour in which you came into this world! Blessed those who have known you and occupied some place in your heart! You have died as you lived, bearing to heaven your baptismal robe in all its purity. Follow, follow the Lamb wherever he goes!”


            The portrait by Angelino hangs today in Saint Rose’s Sanctuary, still lovely after more than three and a half centuries.
            How is Oliva remembered in Lima? Not as the woman who harassed a saint, not as a bitter, frustrated, ambitious woman, not as an overworked, impoverished mother. She is venerated as a saintly religious who turned on herself with that holy violence dear to our Lord. Jesus, to whom Rose had willed her mother, accepted that bequest. He took Oliva, on her husbands’ death as his consecrated spouse.