By Sister Roxana Contreras

Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617) was a Peruvian woman who left a lasting impression of holiness on our world today. Her priority was to do God’s will; in her heart she cherished Him above all things and wanted everyone to know Him. 

A dedicated, understanding woman: she excused the errors of others, forgave offenses, and strove to bring sinners back to the right path. She strove for mercy and compassion; she tried to make sure that everyone had the necessities of life, food, and health. 

Much of what is known about her speaks only of her ascetical practices, which were befitting of her time. As she was very devout and fearful of God she lived very committed to the Lord and was loved by all for her kindness and her love for the poorest, especially the sick, children and indigenous people. She set up a makeshift hospital to care for them, bringing all those she met along the way without distinction. 

Our saint left us an example of humility. She would say “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder to climb to heaven” and “Let everyone know that grace follows tribulation. Let them know that, without the weight of afflictions, the height of grace is not reached.” 

She effectively demonstrated her solidarity with the slaves of her time, which is why she wore chains on her body and threw the key into the well that is now known as the wishing well. She was an inclusive woman, evidenced by her funeral lasting three days because everyone from the poorest to the richest wanted to say goodbye to her.  

Every 30th of August in Peru, thousands of people visit the sanctuary of Saint Rose of Lima. They go to the wishing well, which is a symbol of faith for millions of believers who deposit their letters with the hope that what is written in them will come to pass. 

As women of mercy, we can ask her to help us in our quest to be more inclusive. 

Note: Saint Rose of Lima’s feast day is celebrated August 23 worldwide, but her home country continues to celebrate the original feast day of August 30. She was the first person born in the Americas to be canonized.