Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Saint Rose of Lima Holiday

Saint Rose...Isabel Flores y de Oliva was born in Lima on April 20 1586. She felt a spiritual calling early and devoted most of her short life to helping the poor and sick. After her death in 1617 there were reports of on-going miracles associated with her activities. She was canonized in 1671. Every year on August 30th every community in Peru from the coastal desert to the jungle will have some sort of celebration in honor of Saint Rose. All public and many private businesses will be closed, and there will be pageantry and parades. 

The Karl Weiss Alumni Association chose this day to hold their annual parade. Even though the parade lasted over two hours, there were considerably less participants and spectators this year. One reason is that groups that normally would have participated were involved in other activities celebrating the holiday. Traditionally the Karl Weiss parade is held on a Sunday. Why the association officers chose to deviate this year is unknown.

One of the main competitors for spectator attention was the police department. Saint Rose is the patron saint of Peru’s National Police Department and every year police departments across Peru hold impressive ceremonies. This formation extended for nearly three blocks on Balta Avenue South. It included most of Chiclayo’s national police force; military units representing the Army, Navy, Marines and Air force plus nurses from the police hospital. Also taking part in the parade was the K-9 and mounted police.

The downside to being able to watch the police pageantry is that there are very few police patrolling the streets, which probably explains why two fine, upstanding citizens, one on foot and the accomplice in a moto-taxi attempted to relieve Maribel of her purse as she was walking home from the Weiss parade on a usually 'safe' street . She screamed as loud as she could (her throat is still sore today) and fortunately a man driving a mini-van pulled up next to her, opened the passenger door and shouted, “Get in!” She did and they drove away leaving the thieves empty handed, at least for the moment. My thanks to this man for not being afraid to do the right thing.

There was a time a few years ago when better than 50% of Peru’s population lived in poverty; there was no work available and the philosophy “steal or starve” may have been a necessity for some. No more. Conditions have improved considerably but crime hasn’t lessened. Ironically, the vultures stalking the streets today are doing it because in this improved economy many Chiclayanos have a few more coins in their purse or wallet. And it’s easier than working. I wonder if the spirit of Saint Rose would consider working a few ‘miracles’ on these scavengers?

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