Monday, August 23, 2010

First Flow'ret of the Wild

Saint Rose of Lima
by Harriet Skidmore


Thou hast rare and regal dower,
O fair Peruvian land !
A boundless wealth of fruit and flower,
From Nature's partial hand ;
And thine is one transcendent gem—
One pure and peerless rose,
The fairest crown of mortal stem,
In thee its dwelling chose,—
Rare daughter of a radiant clime,
Bright blossom of the West,
Glad starbeam of our gloomy time,
Queen Rose of Lima blest.
Columbia's saint! her very own !
The New World's favored child !
Our gem, enshrined beside the throne,
"First flow'ret of the wild."
O wondrous life ! O matchless bloom,
From heaven's glory caught!
O ceaseless tribute of perfume,
With pure aroma fraught!
The worship of a stainless heart,
A fair, embellished shrine,
Grace-guarded, kept from earth apart,
Fit home of love divine !
Meet votary of Sharon's Rose !
To thee, pure flower, was given
Sweet semblance of each charm that glows
In that bright Queen of Heaven.
A love unsullied bade thee bow
At Mary's holy shrine,
And on her statue's shining brow
Thy garden's gifts entwine.
Loved Rose of Lima! while we bend
Before our Lady's throne,
To our frail, fading tributes lend
The grace that decked thy own.
For lifted heart and humble head
Win blessings from above,
And o'er our scentless off'rings shed
The fragrance of thy love ;
And so, each fair, immortal flower,
Transplanted from the sod,
Shall bloom, with thee, in fadeless bower,
The garden of our God.

Today is the feast day of St. Rose of Lima, the first person in the Americas to be canonized. She died in 1617. She is always interesting. It is difficult to imagine a saint whose life was deliberately more antithetical to what in the modern-day West has widely become regarded as the good life, but she is nonetheless a very popular saint, and the patroness of Latin America, Peru, embroiderers, and people ridiculed for their piety, among other things. She is best known for her extraordinary mortifications, but much of the devotion to her is based on the extraordinary amount of charity and work for the poor, much of which was made possible by her mortifications, which made it possible to devote far greater time and resources to prayer and to helping others.

According to Henrietta Dumont's The Language of Flowers, the proper flower for the observance of the feast day of St. Rose of Lima is the Guernsey Lily; the scientific name she gives is Amaryllis sarniensis but I'm thinking that 'Amaryllis' here indicates the tribe or family, and that the genus and species are actually Nerine sarniensis.

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