The first saint of the New World was a natural beauty who pursued the perfection of the spirit
“Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gift of grace increases as the struggles increase.” — St. Rose of Lima
Saint Rose of Lima’s words seem almost counter-intuitive in an era where we seek relief from all that is difficult, and affliction — particularly physical affliction — is something to be suicidal over, rather than something meant to shape us via grace.
Born to a “noble” but impoverished family, St. Rose (baptized Isabella) possessed a natural beauty so great her parents believed she could make an extremely desirable marriage, one that would help them with their own financial straits. Instead, from a young age their daughter declared herself as belonging to Christ alone. She would rub pepper on her face, to bring on a rash, and lye on her hands, to render them coarse and unattractive. At the age of 20, Isabella — like her role-model, St. Catherine of Siena — put on the habit of a Dominican tertiary. She asked he father to build her a hermitage on the family’s property, which he did, and there she lived out a life of severe penance and prayer.
Recently, the scientists from the University of St. Martin de Porres (another Dominican!) in Peru joined up with forensic experts and, after examining her skull, attempted to show us just how pretty St. Rose of Lima really was. As you see above, she was indeed lovely. Very likely, though, she would say that the beauty of a face counts as nothing in comparison to the beauty of a soul. On her feast day, it seems a good time to ask St. Rose to pray that we too seek to beautify our souls over our looks:
Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us
St. Michael, the Archangel, pray for us
St. Rose of Lima, pray for us
That we may be delivered of vanity, pray for us
That we may be freed from self-interest, pray for us
That we may consider our needs over our desires, pray for us
That we may consider the needs of others before our own, pray for us
That we may pursue holiness over worldly praise, pray for us
That we may seek to beautify our souls in the eyes of the Lord, pray for us
That we may count all good as coming from Him, pray for us
That we may recognize God’s graces offered to us through our difficulties, pray for us
That we may welcome solitude when we encounter it, as time to be alone with the Alone, pray for us
That we may walk in peace, pray for us