In emulation of Saint Catherine of Siena, she fasted three times a week with secret severe penances. When she was admired, Rose cut off her hair against the objections of her friends and her family. Upon the censure of her parents, Rose disfigured her face with pepper and lye. She was very upset that she was so beautiful, and hurt herself to help others.
Rose began to tell of visions, revelations, visitations and voices as her parents deplored her penitential practices more than ever.
She spent many hours contemplating the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily. She determined to take a vow of virginity in opposition to her parents, who wished her to marry.
Daily fasting turned to perpetual abstinence from meat. Her days were filled with acts of charity and industry. Rose helped the sick and hungry around her community. She would bring them to her home and take care of them. Rose sold her fine needlework, grew beautiful flowers, and would take them to market to help her family. Her exquisite lace and embroidery helped to support her home, while her nights were devoted to prayer and penance in a little grotto which she had built. She became a recluse leaving the grotto only for her visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
She took the name of Rose at her confirmation in 1597. In her twentieth year she had so attracted the attention of the Dominican Order that she was permitted to enter a Dominican convent in 1602 without payment of the usual dowry. She donned the habit and took a vow of perpetual virginity.
For eleven years this self-martyrdom continued without relaxation, with intervals of ecstasy, until she died on August 24, 1617, at the age of 31. Her funeral was attended by all the public authorities of Lima, and the archbishop pronounced her eulogy in the cathedral.
Rose was beatified by Pope Clement IX on April 15, 1667, and canonized on April 2, 1671 by Pope Clement X, as the first Catholic in the western hemisphere to be canonized. Her shrine, alongside those of her friends St. Martin de Porres and Alonso Abad, is located inside the convent of St. Dominic in Lima. The Roman Catholic Church says that many miracles followed her death. All the places named Santa Rosa in the New World pay homage to this saint. Pope Benedict XVI has a special devotion for this saint.
Her liturgical feast was inserted into the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1727 for celebration initially on August 30, because August 24, the day of her death, is the feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle and August 30 was the closest date not already occupied by a well-known saint. Pope Paul VI's 1969 reform of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, made August 23 available. Her optional memorial is now celebrated on August 23. However, in Peru and other Latin American countries where August 30 is a public holiday in her honor, the liturgical feast is celebrated on the same day. In addition, Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate her feast day on August 30.
She is the patroness of Lima, Peru, the Americas, the Philippines, Santa Rosa, California, and Sittard in the Netherlands. Early Lives of Santa Rosa were written by the Dominican Father Hansen, "Vita Sanctae Rosae" (2 vols., Rome, 1664–1668), and Vicente Orsini, afterward. Pope Benedict XIII wrote "Concentus Dominicano, Bononiensis ecclesia, in album Sanctorum Ludovici Bertrandi et Rosae de Sancta Maria, ordinero praedicatorum," Venice, 1674).
There is a park named after her in downtown Sacramento. A plot of land at 7th and K streets was given to the Roman Catholic Church by Peter Burnett, first governor of the State of California. Father Peter Anderson would build one of the first of two churches in the diocese to be consecrated in honor of Rose.