A Crown of Thorns Beneath One of Roses
All that We Have: The Image of Saint Rose of Lima in the Daily Mass Altar
Published on August 17-18, 2013 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
An image of Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617) is enshrined in the right niche of the north-facing side of the altar in the Daily Mass Chapel of Saint Andrew’s. It is based on a stained glass window at the Cathedral of Saint Francis Xavier in Green Bay, Wisconsin. That window was made around 1900 by the Tyrolese Art Glass Company of Innsbruck, Austria.
The image portrays Saint Rose as a young woman clothed in a decorated olive mantle. Underneath the mantle she wears the white habit of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. With a silver crown of thorns set upon her head, she holds close to her breast a wooden cross and a bouquet of red roses. Her face is turned to Heaven, her eyes set on “what is above, not of what is on earth” (Col. 3:2).
Rose of Lima was born Isabel Flores y de Oliva to Gaspar Flores and María de Oliva on April 20, 1586 in Lima, Peru. Her extraordinary beauty had earned her the nickname ‘Rose.’ Yet, instead of flaunting her loveliness, she devoted her life to loving God and neighbor. She fasted daily, spent hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament, and donned, as a penance, a crown of thorns beneath one of roses. She turned her own room into an infirmary and there cared for the sick and the elderly in the community. She supported her own family by selling the flowers that she grew with such success.
Rose had wanted to become a nun, but her parents, who wished her to marry, denied her desire. Still she insisted on taking a vow of virginity and, at age 20, followed the example of her model, Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), and became a Dominican tertiary. She died at the age of 31 and was buried in the crypt of the Church of Saint Dominic in the Convento del Santisimo Rosario in Lima.
Rose of Lima was beatified in 1668 by Pope Clement IX (1667-1669); she was canonized on April 12, 1671 by Pope Clement X (1670-1676). The Church celebrates the memorial of this patroness of America, the first saint to have been born in this continent, on August 23, the eve of her death in 1617.
The oldest Dominican house in the United States is named in her honor. Now called the Protopriory, Saint Rose in Springfield, Kentucky, was established in 1806 with the Rev. Edward D. Fenwick, OP (1768-1832), as the first superior of the Province of Saint Joseph. (Fr. Fenwick eventually would be ordained the first Bishop of Cincinnati, serving from 1822 to 1832.) The friars assisted the Rev. Stephen T. Badin (1768-1853) in ministering to the Catholics here in Mercer County before the priory took charge of the mission from 1829 to 1867. It was during that period that a parish was established in Harrodsburg by a friar of Saint Rose, the Rev. Joseph T. Ryan, OP (1819-1877). The first Church of this new parish was dedicated in 1858 and was named after Saint Peter of Verona (1205-1252), another Dominican saint.