OF HER LOVE FOR HER DIVINE SPOUSE JESUS CHRIST,
AND OF THE MIRACLE WHICH SHE ENTREATED HIM TO
WORK TO INFLAME THE HEARTS OF MEN WITH
HIS DIVINE LOVE
As charity makes saints, Almighty God, who destined S. Rose to attain to a high degree of sanctity, rendered her heart, as it were, another Etna, which sent forth night and day flames of love, and which was so completely filled with this celestial fires, that heat and sparks from it were visible on her countenance during her prayer. Fires was frequently seen issuing from her mouth and eyes, and through them she was enabled to give vent to the flames with which she was consumed while conversing with God by prayer. The ardent signs which she continually breathed, manifested this evidently, for she was obliged to allow them to escape her, in order to moderate the violent heat of the love which burnt in her heart.
This ardent charity pervaded so completely all the faculties of her soul, that nothing issued from her heart, her mouth, or eyes, that did not express this celestial ardor. She had almost continually these words in her mouth: “Oh my God! Who would not love Thee? Oh good Jesus! When shall I begin to love Thee as I am obliged? How far am I from this perfect, intimate, and generous love? Alas! I know not even how to love thee. How shameful! What advantage is it to have a heart, unless it be quite consumed with the love of Thee!” Inflamed with this divine charity, she composed several ejaculatory prayers to obtain his perfect love of God, which are so moving that they may produce in the hearts of them who read them the same effects as in the heart of our Saint. The following is an example:
“Lord Jesus Christ, God and Man, my Creator and my Savior, I am extremely sorry and sensibly grieved for having offended Thee, because Thou art what Thou art, and Because I love Thee above all things. My God, who art the Spouse of my soul, and all the joy of my heart, I desire, but I desire it with all the powers of my soul, to love Thee with a very perfect love, with a very efficacious love, with a very sincere ineffable love, the greatest that a creature can have for her God, with an incomprehensible love, with a love resolute and invincible in difficulties; in a word, I desire to love Thee in heaven. Even more, O God of my heart, of my life, and all the joy of my soul, I desire to love Thee; as far as I am capable of it, as much as the Blessed Virgin, Thy Mother and my sweet Lady, loves Thee. Oh, Salvation of my soul! I desire to love Thee as Thou lovest Thyself. Oh, my sweet Jesus! May I burn with the fire of Thy divine love! May it consume me, and make of my soul a holocaust to Thy glory.”
She was so penetrated with this love, that it was the ordinary subject of her conversations with others; for whenever she spoke with ladies or with young girls, she always began by these words: “Let us love God: let us love Him with all our hearts.” We may say, in a word, that the love of God was the salt with which she seasoned all her words, either in conversation, in answering questions, or when civility obliged her to speak to any one.
All her pleasure was in speaking of this love, or in hearing others speak of it; and when anything else was made the subject to discourse in her presence, she contrived to turn the conversation, and to make it almost imperceptibly fall upon the excellence of charity, and on the happy necessity in which we are of loving God with all our soul, and with all our strength. She spoke very little, but on this occasion she was wonderfully eloquent. It was easy to perceive, by the fire that sparkled in her eyes, that in these delightful discourses on the love of God, her tongue was the faithful interpreter of her heart, and that she drew from the abundance of the charity with which it was replenished, the substance of everything she said. It was delightful to hear her when praying in her hermitage, giving full scope to her love, and exhorting all creatures to love God, who had given them their being. She generally remained two or three hours in these transports, and those who observed her closely, sometimes saw her take a harp, and joining the sweetness of her beautiful voice to the symphony of that instrument, she sang canticles of praise to God for his love towards men. As divine love is a fire, it cannot lie so concealed in the soul as not to sometimes manifest its presence by actions of piety, to which the soul is carried by the desire of pleasing God. S. Rose, reflecting one day on the charity which S. Catherine of Sienna had shown towards Jesus Christ, hidden under the form of a beggar, in depriving of her garments to clothe Him, thought she might imitate her by making a sort of spiritual and mysterious garment for the infant Jesus of several acts of virtue. This is the formula, which was found in her own handwriting:
“This year, 1616, by the grace of my Savior, and under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I will clothe my Divine Jesus, whom the Church will soon represent to us born naked, in a manger, exposed to all the severity of winter. I will make him an undergarment of fifty Litanies, of nine hundred pair of beads, which I will recite, and of five days of abstinence from every sort of nourishment, in honor of the adorable mystery of the Incarnation. I will compose his swaddling clothes of nine visits to the most Blessed Sacrament, of nine Psalters of the Blessed Virgin, and of nine fasting days, to honor the nine months during which He was enclosed in her chaste womb. His covering shall consist of five days passed without eating or drinking; of five visits to the most Blessed Sacrament, and of as many rosaries in honor of His birth in this world. His bands shall be made of three chaplets of our Lord; of five days’ abstinence from food, and of five stations which I will make before the most Blessed Sacrament. For the fringes and borders of His swaddling clothes and bands, I will make thirty-three extra communions; I will assist at thirty-three masses; I will spend thirty-three hours in mental prayer; I will recite thirty-three times the Pater Noster, thirty-three times the Ave Maria, Credo, Gloria patria, and Salve Regina, each; I will also recite thirty-three Rosaries, I will fast for thirty-three days, I will take three thousand stripes of the discipline, in honor of the thirty-three years he spent on earth. Lastly, I offer as a gift to my dear Jesus, my tears, my groans, and all the acts of love which I shall make. With this I offer my heart and soul, that there may be noting in me which is not entirely consecrated to Him.”
Zeal being the fruit of love, draws its degrees of excellence from the cause which gives birth to it: so that if love be imperfect, zeal is cold and languishing: on the contrary, if love be generous, zeal is all on fire; thus, as the love of God which consumed the soul of S. Rose was most ardent, she had an incomparable zeal for His glory.
There was no one in the house bold enough to say one word in her presence contrary to modesty: they well knew that her generous zeal for the interests of God would prompt her to condemn it instantly. She could not endure a word to be spoken in the church, much less that it should be made a place of conversation; her zeal closing her eyes to human respect and every consideration of flesh and blood, gave her a holy confidence in speaking to any one whatever who committed this act of irreverence. From her youth up, when she heard her brothers and sisters sing profane airs or immodest verses, she wept for grief, and showed them, by the abundance of her tears, how much the freedom of their words wounded her heart. She must indeed have felt it exceedingly; for she had so high an esteem for tears, which she said belonged to the treasury of God, and were a useful sort of money with which we may purchase the kingdom of heaven, that she could not endure that they should be wasted for any earthly cause; hence, seeing her mother shedding them one day profusely for trifles, she said, “Ah, mother! Why do you waste this precious merchandise, which you might deposit in the treasury of God, to use when they might avail towards your salvation?” This zeal made her enter so deeply into the interests of her Divine Spouse, that she felt an incredible joy when she saw Him served and honored by men; and a poor nun having returned to her convent after having scandalously left it, our Saint showed more pleasure on this occasion than if the crown of Peru and all America had been placed on her head; and God, to increase her joy, showed her in spirit the eminent sanctity which this repentant religious would attain through her tears and groans. Her confessor having been requested to preach on some considerable occasion, when all the first people in the town would be present, was attacked with a violent fever. Rose being acquainted with his indisposition, very earnestly begged of Almighty God to send her the fever from which her confessor was suffering. In the confidence she felt that her prayer would be heard, she sent to tell him to prepare for this great action, for he would certainly be without fever when he entered the pulpit, which happened according to her desires; for he acquitted himself of this honorable employment to the satisfaction of his hearers, while S. Rose was suffering the burning heats of his fever.
Almighty God testified His approbation of the eagerness of S. Rose in advancing His glory by a famous miracle. In the year 1617, which was the year in which she died, on the 15th of April, about five o’clock in the evening, as she was praying in the oratory of don Gonzalez before a very beautiful statue of Jesus Christ, she felt so ardent a love of God, that, unable to moderate its violence, she rose up and began to address Him, and after some devout colloquies, she begged Him to enkindle the fire of His love in the hearts of men. At the same instant in which she made this prayer, the daughter of Don Gonzalez perceived that this image of the son of God was quite moist with perspiration, by which He made known, in order to satisfy Rose’s desire, the immensity of His charity for men, that being convinced of it by his prodigy, they might detach their affections from creatures, to consecrate them to Him, and to love Him only.
Don Gonzalez hurried to the place when he heard of the miracle, and seeing the image sweat, he sent immediately for the Rev. Father Diego Martinez, and Diego Penalosa, that they might be eye-witnesses of this prodigy. The first being prevented, the second came, and having entered the oratory, he saw the sweat, and wiped it off himself with cotton. He perceived that this miraculous appearance augmented in proportion as he wiped it. This miracle lasted four hours, in the presence of a number of persons of consideration, whom this prodigy had drawn to the place. They all saw several drops of perspiration, as large as little beads, rise successively on the face of this same statue one after the other, and run down the hair and neck: the more they wiped the more abundant did the sweat become, but it did not injure the colors of the painting; on the contrary, it seemed like a varnish, which gave them additional brightness. Don Barthelemy Lobo Guerrero, then archbishop of Lima, appointed Dr. Juan de la Roca, curate and archdeacon of the metropolitan church, as judge, to examine it juridically. When the examination had been made, and the depositions of the witnesses had been taken, this sweat was declared to be miraculous, not proceeding from the coldness of the place, nor from the unctuous moisture of the oil, of which the colors used in painting the statue had been mixed, but that is was an effect of the omnipotence of God, who acts when he pleases out of the order of nature and above the rules of art.
Don Gonzalez was very uneasy about this; he feared that this prodigy might be a forerunner of the justice of God, who intended, perhaps, to punish some secret sin committed by some member of his family: but S. Rose removed his fear, telling him that Jesus Christ in this image had sweated to animate mankind to love Him. This miracle, which so sweetly invited men to love God, accomplished the charitable desire of our Saint, for all those who had ocular demonstrations of it felt an internal fire, which inflamed them with the ardor of the charity of Jesus Christ, and they were happily pierced with the darts of His divine love. This miracle gave rise to another, for S. Rose having seriously injured herself by a fall, the surgeons feared she would die, or at least be a cripple the rest of her life; but she having more confidence in the goodness of God than in the efficacy of remedies, thought that she should certainly be cured if she were to dip a little cotton in the sweat of that image, and apply it to her wounded arm; but from the delight she felt in suffering, she dared not do it without speaking first to her confessor, and obtaining his permission. He wished her to follow the first inspiration, believing that Almighty God had sent it, in order to manifest His power by some new miracle. As soon as she applied this moistened cotton to her arm, she felt the nerves return to their place, the cartilages grow stronger, the tumor sink down, and the muscles stretch out. This was a source of astonishment to the surgeons, who despairing of curing this evil, which resisted their remedies.
To Praise * to Bless * to Preach