Born in Lima in 1586, the capital of the viceroyalty of Peru, the saint's given name was Isabel Flores de Oliva but from childhood, she was called Rosa. Santa Rosa was one of thirteen children. Her father Gaspar Flores, was born in Puerto Rico and married her mother, María de Oliva, a native of Lima. The saint lived at a time in which religious fervor prevailed over an entire community who truly believed in the power of miracles, healing of all things incurable--both diseases and vices, and placed a great emphasis on Christian virtues. Although a Franciscan nun, Rosa traded in her robes for the order of the Dominican Saint Catherine of Siena. Pius, Rosa led an exemplary life and devoted herself to kindness and service to her fellow men.
Botero's rendering of the patroness of Peru, the Americas and the Philippines, is rather humorous and endears the saintly woman to all--faithful and sinners alike. In her apparition, she is not surrounded by angels and in communion with the saints, instead, Santa Rosa stands amidst the stones of the ancient city of Machu Pichu and as a symbol of a new Christian who belongs to this New World. The saint has fascinated Botero and he has rendered her in several portraits.