On 30 August, Peruvians celebrate a public holiday called “Santa Rosa de Lima”. This is the commemoration of the death of Saint Rosa of Lima, who is well known in Peru for her efforts at caring for the sick during the 1600’s. The centre of celebrations for this holiday is in the section of Lima named after Santa Rosa, but it is kept throughout all Lima and all Peru.
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Rosa’s original baptised name was “Isabel”, but she was called “Rosa” because she was considered as beautiful as a rose by many of her day. This led her to fear, however, that such constant praise over her looks would lead her to become prideful. This, in turn, led her to devote herself more fully to the Catholic faith and to spend much time in prayer.
Rosa finally decided to avoid marriage by rubbing hot peppers on her face, cutting her hair, and making her hands rough through hard work. She did this so she would not be attractive to potential suitors. She instead became a Dominican nun and took a vow of lifelong chastity. She then wore a metal crown with roses in it and a chain of iron about her waist. And she would fast often, wear simple clothing, and eat only simple foods.