Santa Rosa de Lima

August 30th is a public holiday in Peru in honour of Saint Rose of Lima, the first female from the Americas to be canonized, and the patron female saint of Peru, the New World, the Philippines, the Peruvian Police Force, and the Argentinean Armed Forces ... among others.

Rosa was born in Lima in 1586, but spent much of her childhood in the Andean town of Quives where her father was the administrator of a silver refinery. Upon her return to Lima, she entered the Order of Santo Domingo as a nun, took vows of chastity - in the face of pressure from her parents to marry - wanting to remain a virgin in service of God. 

She opened a room in her house to care for the homeless, elderly, sick, and orphans. Believing in penance, she showed masochistic tendencies: she spent most of her time in a two-metre square hut at the bottom of the garden, fasted for long periods, wore a silver headband with interior spikes to emulate Christ’s crown of thorns, slept on a wooden bed without bedding, and prayed for many hours without sleep.

She died aged 31, on Aug 30th 1617, and was canonized by Pope Clement X (for me, the best of the Clements) in 1671.

If you are looking for concrete vestiges of Santa Rosa in Lima, then there are a couple of options. A block from the Plaza de Armas is Santo Domingo Church. The church was founded by the Dominican friar Vicente Valverde, who accompanied Pizarro when Inca Atahualpa was captured in Cajamarca. It was constructed in the 1540s, and most of it has since been rebuilt, although the ceiling and the older of the two cloisters are early 17th century.  

The church is revered by Limeños because, as well as housing Santa Rosa's remains, it also has those of Martin de Porres (1579 – 1639), the patron saint of barbers and one of the few black saints; and Juan Macias (1585 – 1645), a Dominican missionary to Peru. The reliquaries can be seen to the right of the main altar.    

A few blocks away, the Saint Rose of Lima Sanctuary marks the spot where Santa Rosa was born and lived her short life. The celebration of her death on August 30th is an important holiday in Lima. Santa Rosa is the patroness of the Americas.