| By Jan Rynearson

Why Did This Beautiful Woman Rub Pepper on Her Face?

Saint Rose of Lima

Birthplace: Lima, Peru

Feast Day: August 30

Claim to Fame: Named Isabel when born in 1586, her impoverished family considered her their treasure and called her Rose. They dedicated her life to God. Rose was deeply devoted to her parents and obeyed them in everything they asked of her, except one thing.  She refused to marry, because she wanted to give herself to God. She was so concerned that everyone was only interested in her lovely appearance that she rubbed pepper on her face until her skin blistered, dressed in rough clothing and cut off her hair. She wanted to ensure that no one would be tempted by her and that she would not succumb to vanity.

What made her a saint: She worked at embroidery and needlework to help sustain her family, even when she would rather have been praying. Rose sold her delicate creations and gave her family all the money. Eventually, she moved from her parents’ house to a hermitage, where she fasted and prayed. Although Rose spent hours in prayer each day, she was plagued by sinful thoughts and had a natural tendency toward loneliness and sadness. But she cheerfully offered her suffering to the Lord and was rewarded with ecstasies of peace and joy. She often cared for the sick, even though she was frequently ill and weak herself – partly because of the fasting she felt brought her closer to God. Even when she was in pain, she didn’t let her anguish overcome her love for God.

Best Quote: During her last agonizing illness, she prayed, “Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase your love in my heart.”

How she died: She died following a long, painful sickness. She was beatified in 1667 and canonized by Clement X in 1671.

Prayer: Help me to remember what is really important: that I am your child. You are my Father. You love me for who I am and how I live, not for what I look like or what I own. Let me praise you who see into my heart, who is always with me and who eases my suffering. Amen.