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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Santa Rosa de Lima, myth busted!

Today, august 30, Peru (and surely many other countries) celebrate the festivity of Santa Rosa de Lima. I remember 10 years ago I was at the sanctuary of Santa Rosa, along with my whole school, to attend a mass in her honor. I don’t remember if I was ok with that or hoped (as most of my classmates) the celebration finished quickly.

That’s one of the memories I have about Santa Rosa, going every year to the sanctuary. Another is an old nun singing a song in her honor in a squeaky voice when I was in elementary school.

As you can notice, children are taught to revere these saint figures since they are very young. No wonder some adults keep revering those figures. I think part of the fascination one feels about it are the miracles that those saints supposedly did.

One of the miracles Santa Rosa is credited for is praying for the corsair Jorge Spilbergen not to attack Lima. Well, thanks to El Utero de Marita and Amautacuna de la Historia, that miracle has been busted.

From Amautacuna de la Historia:
When the corsair Spilbergen, a Calvinist, arrived to Callao (the principal port in Peru, very near Lima, the capital) everywhere in Lima was the rumor that his men would enter the Santo Domingo Convent to desecrate the Sacrament in the Altar. When Santa Rosa heard that, she run to the temple and “climbed up the altar to protect the eucharist with her own body”, eager to die defending it. At the same time she prayed to the Virgen del Rosario to protect the city

Being a corsair, I’m sure Spilbergen had better things to do than going to a church and desecrate whatever was there. His men might have had a good time with 29 year-old Rosa, but that’s just my speculation. After all, they weren’t pirates.

Coincidently, Spilbergen did not disembarked in Callao, neither attacked Lima; he went to Paita and Acapulco and then to Molucas and never came back. The people from Lima attributed their salvation to Santa Rosa de Lima and to this day many remember the episode as one of her principal miracles.

However, checking some books, I found some facts that allow us to understand better why Lima was not attacked that Tuesday, July 21, 1615:

- In the Cerro Azul combat, Spilbergen lost a ship and other 5 were left very damaged
- In that same combat, the corsair lost 25% of his men.
- When Spilbergen arrived to Callao and commanded the disembarkment, his ships were attacked by a canon that protected the port.
- Spilbergen only had 300 men and did not

IN OTHER WORDS, Lima was NOT SAVED because Santa Rosa’s prayers (as if prayer ever worked), but because a particular reason.

On a certain way is understandable that people pray when they have no other options and all hope is lost. But those prayers won’t change anything. Your beloved ones may be dying and you can gather the entire town to pray, but that won’t work. Sorry, that’s how it is. Santa Rosa may have prayed all she wanted, but she doesn’t deserve any credit for Lima no being invaded.


  1. I would like to see the reaction of our compatriots. Surely, many (not all of course) peruvians prefer nice myths than hard truths.

  2. I don't agree or disagree with the myths or the mentioned facts...but neither of us were there...
    Iam peruvian, my husband is european and someone gave him a book about Peru the first time he visited...you couldn't believe the facts they got wrong!
    God bless us all. Amen.

  3. Signo, if you don't disagree with the "myths", I might assume that you don't disagree either with the Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo myth. I don't think so. The "we were not there" is no excuse to not hold a position regarding something that makes no sense.

    Why should God bless us all? He clearly isn't blessing all of those who suffer from hunger and diseases.

  4. I don't see how a prayer is so bad and how this whole attack on other people's belief is better. There are elements about Manco C. and Mama O. that could be true (we weren't there) is a man teaching how to cultivate the earth or a woman teaching how to weave and other things impossible?
    Iam not devouted to any saint, after all they were only human. But I do believe in God and that he grants us miracles everyday but Godless people can't see that. Thank you God for my children and for those people who believe in you and try to help those in need in your name, thank you also for the people who don't believe but still do good. May I say that faith itself made this page so sucessful (or rather the lack of it), what would you talk about otherwise?

  5. Hi Signo. My "attack" on prayer is the same attack you would get from me in the case of a car that is announced to work every time, but it breaks down does after just 5 miles, and keeps getting broken down every day. It doesn't do what the advertiser said. Same thing with prayer. It doesn't work. Might make you feel better, but doesn't change anything in the world. It can even be dangerous when people rely on it instead of on medicine (See this case: http://sunombreenvano.blogspot.com/2010/07/nutcase-for-prayer.html).

    In Santa Rosa's case, people think she prayed and Lima was saved. The catholic church gets good publicity from that. Publicity used to further its power and push its anti-scientific and bigoted views in public policy.

    Regarding the Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo myth, do you really think that just one couple might have been able to teach a whole group of people how to cultivate the Earth? Moreover, do you really think that couple came out from the Titicaca lake and were given a golden bar by the Sun God?

    Godless people won't see miracles because we are rational people. We look for explanations and natural causes. And so far it has worker. What years ago was considered "miracle" now is explained by science.

    You know? I would really like not to be writing this blog. But I do, because of the people who believe in God can be very hateful, bigoted and ignorant, while presenting themselves as loving, caring, and holders of "the truth". I'm happy that many people understand that, and it's them who have made this page "so successful" (thanks for that). Our lack of faith, added to our hunger of knowledge to make this a better world, gives us energy to keep going. There is no god in the equation.

    Finally, pray all you want and thank all you want for your family, they must be great. But I'm sorry, there is no god to answer those prayers. And if there is, it doesn't care. Why should it care for you, when there is so many other people suffering in the world?

    Sorry if they went too long, but I wanted to give you a detailed answer.

  6. Iam sorry if you got tired of praying and felt it wasn't worth it but do you realise that you take a handful of people as example and generalise? Prayer works for me and for a lot of people (it doesn't mean that is the only thing we do). There are a lot of people doing their part to make this a better world, they pray a lot and they volunteer a lot (not blogging).

    As I know lots of terrorist groups do they work in the name of the people and with books written by men, make that bright men (no God involved in their belief), should I condem all people who believed in comunism at one point or another, should we think that all white people are hateful and kill all non-whites because some groups did?.

    You say "people who believe in God can be very hateful, bigoted and ignorant..." so much for the much mentioned tolerance on your part.
    You are familiar with the saying "Beware of the lion disguised as sheep", right? Well, I know that there are a lot of people like that but being agnostic is not garantee that all of you are honest is it? or maybe there is a scientific explanation for that, perhaps in the genes huh?.

    There is a lot of things that science can't explain, one of them is that there is a whole bunch of people who according to science should be dead but still here...YES, I think that there are miracles even in times like this, but you will not see them as that. A prayer are only words if you do not have faith. And a lot of those suffering people keep going because of the strengh they find in God, even though if it hurts you so much. Have a good day. Virgisignotierra

  7. Hi Signo, welcome back.

    I don't recall saying that I got tired of praying. In fact, I stopped praying when understood that it wasn't more than wishful thinking, or a placebo that makes us feel happy and that we are doing something. If you read the news piece I linked, you will see that prayer offers no benefit for health, an issue in which people usually pray. It's not a generalization, it's true. If it works for you it might be only because you are predisposed to believe that. But in a serious study, it has no better results than mere chance.

    Indeed, many terrorist don't do whatever they do based on their belief. But communists didn't do it either in the name of atheism, but in the name of a regime. Supposedly, people who are believers are closer to God and to its message, yet, won't accept gays' rights or people of other faiths around (see the Ground Zero Mosque issue).

    I say that people who believe in God can be hateful, bigoted and ignorant. That's because the core doctrine and ethics ask them to do so. The bible has been used to preach hatred against many, or to push science away. That is undeniable, since still is done nowadays.

    To be an agnostic or an atheist is no guarantee that a person will be honest. Yet, we have no holy, unquestionable book that tells us to discriminate against others and support that by faith.

    Science still can't explain many things, but it's our best tool to understand the world. What before was not understandable, now is. Thanks to science. Centuries ago there were much more miracles because there was no science to explain them. Now there is. You might like the idea of a loving and powerful God caring for you, but, that is not true. There are no miracles, just improbable things that happen, but aren't impossible. Lots of suffering people might keep their strength through prayer and faith, but as I said before, that is just a placebo.

    Finally, that doesn't hurt me. What might hurt me is the idea that because of the belief that prayer works and that a god cares for us results in people dying or suffering when they can find a cure in what medicine and science has given us.


Blasfema libremente

"Que esté permitido a cada uno pensar como quiera; pero que nunca le esté permitido perjudicar por su manera de pensar" Barón D'Holbach
"Let everyone be permitted to think as he pleases; but never let him be permitted to injure others for their manner of thinking" Barón D'Holbach