St. Rose of Lima's Song Prayer
August 23, 1992
Brother John Raymond
With a name like St. Rose we can well imagine the inherent beauty
of this Saint. She was born in Lima, Peru, in 1586. From her birth
God endowed her with many graces. During her entire life she was
attracted to God like a magnet. St. Torribio the Archbishop
confirmed St. Rose. Later another Saint would play a prominent role
in her life.
St. Rose used her state in life to reach sanctity. She was known
to be extremely obedient to her parents and a hard worker. She had a
special devotion to the Infant Jesus and our Blessed Mother. Very
early in her life she chose Catherine of Siena as a model to
imitate. She would fast three days a week and spend many hours in
prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament which she receive on a
daily basis. Unlike most of the girls of her time she cut off her
beautiful hair, wore rough clothing, and washed her face and hands
with hot lime in response to temptations to vanity. Her love for God
grew to such a pitch that she vowed only to live for Him. For ten
years she struggled with her parents' desire for her to marry.
Her love of penance drove her to eat only barely enough to
sustain her. She would spend ten hours a day helping to support the
family with exquisite needle work and flower gardening. Her nights
were spent in prayer and penanace. With the consent of her confessor
she lived in a hermitage built with the help of her brother on the
family property. At the age of twenty she received the habit of
the Third Order of Saint Dominic. Her religious name, given to her
by Our Lady in prayer, was Rose of Saint Mary.
St. Rose wanted to join a convent, but the day she set out to
visit one she stopped in at the church to kneel in prayer before the
statue of our Lady. When she was ready to leave she found that she
could not move a muscle. Her brother who was with her also could not
budge her an inch. The moment she decided not to enter a convent she
was free to move. Thus she took this as a sign that she was to live
out the rest of her life in her hermitage.
The next fourteen years were marked by increases of penance until
they reached a heroic degree. These penances were a loving response
of reparation for the offences committed against Our Lord, for the
Indians who practiced idolatry, for the conversion of sinners and
for the souls in purgatory. Through her prayerful intercession two
people were raised to life after having been given up for being
dead. Also, she would go out to care for the sick and she nursed
many back to health. Her example of loving concern and heroic virtue
brought others back to the Sacraments. In loving imitation of Our
Lord's Passion she was known to wear a ninety-nine spiked metal
crown concealed by roses on her head, an iron chain tightly wound
about her waist and drank gall mixed with bitter herbs. Our Lord
balanced her suffering with frequent ecstacies of peace and joy
which would last for hours. Also, her close friendship with another
great Dominican, St. Martin de Porres, must have given her an
Rose prayed for martyrdom and longed for the life of a
missionary. She almost obtained the grace of martyrdom when a fleet
of Dutch pirates anchored off the coast of Peru. She ran to the
church with the intention of giving her life in defense of the Most
Blessed Sacrament. Through her prayers the fleet sailed on without
St. Rose is also believed to have bilocated to Mass. She amazed
her visitors when they found that she knew every sermon preached at
any Mass said on a given day.
After fifteen years she moved out of her hermitage to live the
last three years of her life with Don Gonzalo de Massa, a government
official, and his wife. Here St. Rose was stricken by a long and
painful sickness which took her life on August 24, 1617 at the age
of thirty-one. She was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671 and was
the first canonized saint of the New World.
St. Rose, like many saints, had a special relationship with
nature. She had a natural talent for singing and she composed a song
in praise of God. The family she stayed with would listen at her
door each evening for a unique duet sung by St. Rose - yes a duet!
At sunset a small bird came and sang (chirped?) with her the song
she composed. They sang alternately for an hour. Then at her signal
the bird would leave. Here are some of the verses of her
Tiny singer, flit your wings;
Bow before the King of kings.
Let your lovely concert rise
To Him Who gave you songs and skies.
Let your throat, full of carols sweet,
Pour them before the Eternal's feet
That we His praise may magnify
Whom birds and angels glorify.
I shall sing to Him who saved me:
You will sing to Him who made ye.
Both together, we shall bless
The God of love and happiness.
Sing, sing with bursting throat and heart!
In turn our voices will take part
To sing together, you and I,
A canticle of holy joy.
As the bird flew away:
The little bird abandons me:
My playmate's wings ascend.
Blessed be my God, Who faithfully
Stays with me to the end.