Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


The growth of the cult of Santa Rosa de Lima during
the 20th century in Peru

Yuriko, YAGI

(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies, Department of Comparative Studies)

Key words:

Peru, Santa Rosa de Lima, Catholic Church, State, Sanctuary, National Police

Santa Rosa de Lima (Saint Rose of Lima) is one of the most famous saints in Peru. She is the first saint that has been canonized in the Americas, and nowadays, she is known for being the patron saint of Peru and the National Police. The festivity of Santa Rosa on August 30th is celebrated not only by the Church, but also by the National Police. Therefore, the latter also contributed to the diffusion of the cult of this Saint.

In this article I describe the growth of Santa Rosa’s cult in the 20th century, focusing on the Catholic Church and the State policy. At the end of this article, I would like to present the factors behind this growth.

The Catholic Church ordered the construction of the “Basilica of Santa Rosa” in 1918. Following that, in 1920, it began the restoration of her house in Lima and her residence of Quives (a pilgrimage place). These initiatives were part of a strategy for retaining social control and strengthen links with people, which became weak in that period. It was inferred from the “Invitation Episcopal” that the Church sought to unify people and the clergy under this construction. The mind behind this plan for reviving Santa Rosa’s cult was the archbishop of Lima, Emilio Lissón. He urged these projects and issued a decree to promote the celebration and pilgrimage to these places where people can remember and get closer to Santa Rosa.

Meanwhile, in 1928, the National Police declared Santa Rosa as patron saint and started to celebrate its institutional day with her festivity. At this time, Augusto B. Leguía was president of Peru. His government was known for being a despotic one, and for its modernization policy, which encouraged the construction of monuments. He also took part in the construction project for the Basilica of Santa Rosa. It could be considered that he used the Saint as an ideology element in his policy for creating a national unity.

As a result, since the 1920s, we can observe a beginning of the revitalization of the Saint by the church and the state. It can not be considered that both, the church and the state, had the same initiative just as a coincidence since there was a close relationship between Archbishop Lissón and President Leguía. This relationship symbolizes the connection between church and state. In addition, there were social conditions that encouraged this revival. Back then, there was a growing tendency to establish a national state. This condition encouraged Santa Rosa as national symbol.