Posted by: fvbcdm | August 23, 2013

Feast of Saint Rose of Lima (23 August 2013)

Question: who was the first inhabitant of the western hemisphere—the Americas—to be canonized? Answer: A young woman who lived and died in Lima, Peru, back in the colonial days. Her name is Rose: Saint Rose of Lima. And I speak of her today because she was a member of the Dominican Laity, and therefore a part of our Dominican family. We are understandably proud that the first American saint was “one of us!”

Around the year 1970, there was a revision of our church calendar. Before that, the feast of Saint Rose fell on August 30, and that was the date chosen by our province to give the religious habit to the incoming novices and allow them to begin their career as Dominicans. It happened each year on the feast of Saint Rose, so we had a special fondness for her. Then, after having spent a year of novitiate and three years of philosophy, we went to Saint Rose Priory in Dubuque, Iowa, to begin our studies of theology and to receive the minor and then major orders leading to the priesthood.  Again, under the patronage of our friend Saint Rose.  So, even though we celebrate her on August 23 now rather than August 30, she is special to us who entered the Order back in those days.

It is not often that you find a church which boasts the bodies of three canonized saints, but our Dominican church in Lima contains the bodies of Saints Rose, Martin de Porres, and Juan Macias, which shows the remarkable flowering of sanctity in the New World even in its earliest history. America had been discovered less than 100 years when Rose was born of Spanish parents in Peru. Some of the Spanish conquistadors gave a bad name to their nation because of their greed for gold and other riches and their cruel treatment of the indigenous peoples of the New World. However, those sins must be counterbalanced by the excellent evangelization and education of those peoples by Spain and Portugal—efforts that are still bearing fruit five centuries later, and which produced sanctity in people like Saints Rose, Juan Macias, and Martin de Porres. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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