Skip to main content

Honoring the Peruvian Patroness

Depending on where you live, the feast day for Santa Rosa de Lima is celebrated on August 23 or 30. I like to think of the 23-30 as her feast week. Widely known in South America, she is much less well known in North America. I like thinking of her during this semana de fiesta for many reasons. Santa Rosa was of both Spanish and Inca bloodlines, and one of the causes dearest to her heart was what we think of today as "equal rights" among ethnic groups. She was acutely aware of the treatment of Africans "imported" to South America as slave labor. She set up a small clinic in her family's courtyard to offer herbs and remedies to any who needed them, irrespective of their skin color. This--in the 17th Century--is behavior that challenges the most radical definition of "radical." Much against her parents' wishes, and those of various ardent suitors, she chose not to marry, but instead to live a life of service. For a beautiful woman whose impoverished family needed her to "marry well," this, too was radical. Such was her own mother's disapproval that Rosa had to move out of her family home and live with friends toward the end of her brief life.

She did reflect some of the environment of the time, however, particularly in the ways she chose to manifest her faith practice, which included doing her best to disfigure her face in order to diminish her physical beauty. This behavior was well within the tradition of self-induced punishments and sufferings, part and parcel of Catholic contemplative practice in South America and Spain during this time, and is just one of several anecdotes in a similar vein from her biography.

The Catholic Church named her the first saint of the Americas and considers her the santa patrona of the Americas (North and South), India, and the Phillipines.

She is one of the saints that continually holds my attention, not only for her piety and devotion to her faith, but also for her courage and vision. She practiced, worked for and prayed for racial equality before this term even existed. She was brave enough to admonish clergy when people were being noisy during mass, though she had no authority whatsoever to do so. She refused to bend to relentless social pressure and the view that women were to be vehicles and servants, wives and mothers, often in the very basest sense of the word. She blended caring for her family with her life in a tertiary order--living as a nun in the world, not separated from it, balancing the sacred and the secular. I return to her example, her modeling of how to walk one's own path, frequently. Even the things she did that seem less than healthy to us in the 21st century--like placing thorns beneath the wreath of flowers her mother made for her to wear to enhance her beauty with suitors--even these took courage and sheer "guts." I can admire that courage--even as I am unwilling to condone her physical immolation.

My favorite books on Santa Rosa de Lima are: St. Rose of Lima, Patroness of the Americas by Sister Mary Alphonsus, O.SS.R, published by Tan Books and Publishers; and The Rose and the Lily, The Lives and Times of Two South American Saints by Frances Parkinson Keyes, published by Hawthorn Books.

So, en honor de Santa Rosa de Lima y sus días festivos, recuerdo su ejemplo y me pregunto: ¿Estoy caminando por mi vida con integridad? ¿Compaginan mis creencias y valores con mi vida diaria? ¿Tengo el valor de enfrentar y participar en el mundo y a la vez mantener y proteger lo que es sagrado para mí? Sólo con la ayuda del Patrón de la Santa, con la ayuda de Dios, puedo decir que sí.


Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Thank you, Press Women!

My blog won first place in personal blog writing for 2014 in the Press Women of Texas's Communications Contest. Afterward, my blog placed second in personal blog writing nationwide in the National Federation of Press Women's Communications Contest. I can't adequately tell you what these awards mean to me, but I feel impelled to try.
From the NFPW website:
On May 6, 1937, 39 women from seven states gathered at the Chicago Women's Club to turn their vision into reality. They formed the National Federation of Presswomen (yes, then it was one word) and set forth their goals: "To provide a means of communication between woman writers nationally; make possible the expression of a common voice in matters of national interest to press women, and otherwise advance the professional standards of press women."

It was brave enough for women to found such an organization in any decade prior to 1970, but this group was founded at the height of the Great Depression. It grew to …