On April 12th 1671, Isabel Flores de Oliva (1586-1617), a lay member of the Dominican Order, was canonised by Pope Clement X (r. 1670-76), becoming the first figure from the Americas to be made a saint.
In 1665, three years before Rose of Lima (as she was popularly known) was beatified, the young Maltese sculptor Melchiorre Gafà (1636-67) immortalised her in marble.
Gafà (also known as Cafà) depicts an angel comforting the dying Rose, who wore a spiked, metal crown and suffered privations in imitation of a fellow Dominican, St Catherine of Siena. A highly emotive work, the sculpture was the first to depict a saint dying,
The sculpture's public life in Rome was short; it served as the centrepiece of the beatification ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica (April 12th 1668) and at the subsequent celebration in the Dominican church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. It was then transported to Lima, in Peru, where it remains in the church of Santo Domingo.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
Search Walks in Rome: