Rose of Lima, the first canonized saint of the Americas, is widely loved, especially here in Santa Rosa de Copán but she is an enigmatic figure. Her mortifications, her self-mutilation, her bulimia are troubling. But there is still something very attractive about this young woman from Lima who died young.
Her parents denied her wish to enter the convent and so she made of her little room a convent. When her parents’ fortunes plummeted, she helped the family by embroidery and raising flowers for sale.
She had a deep devotion to the Cross and spent long times in prayer.
But, at some point she began taking in children of the streets and the sick elderly. Her love of Christ opened her to love of the poor.
For her it was simple. In The Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 2449, it is noted that
When her mother reproached her for caring for the poor and the sick at home, St. Rose of Lima said to her: “When we serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.
In that way she lived out Jesus’ response to the scribe in today’s Gospel:
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
May Saint Rose and her contemporary in Lima, Saint Martin de Porres, remind us of these two great commandments and inspire us to love.