Ask Sister Rose!

Sister Rose explains how she became a healer. (Photo by Bill Mortley)

While I continued to explore St Lucia’s deep rooted culture of spiritual healers, I was led to Pierrot to seek out a woman known as Sister Rose.
Photographer Bill Mortley and I made our way for our appointment.  Sister Rose emerged from behind a set of stairs.  She had been making some medicine.  All our apprehension fluttered away at the immensely warm welcome we received from Sister Rose and her family.
Surprisingly, Sister Rose has a pretty professional set up.  She beckoned us into the waiting room where there were chairs, a nurse’s desk, a scale, a pharmacy and an office.  She showed us around and we saw shelves with local medicine and a box with patient cards.  For a while I forgot what I came to do.
Sister Rose is a very meek, soft spoken woman but headstrong where her faith is concerned.  Her first words in our interview was “Life without the Lord is a losing game.”
Trying to get her given name proved to be a hassle because Sister Rose abhors publicity in any form.  She did eventually tell her name but on the condition we would not reveal it as she is a simple woman with a humble task.  However, her reputation does precede her.  You have to make an appointment months in advance because of the numbers who flock to her door.
Sister Rose had turbulent childhood.  Her parents were estranged, constantly fighting over her custody.  She eventually ended up staying with her grandmother. Despite her circumstances, Sister Rose always had a helpful disposition, shying away from any sort of conflict.  Her grandmother enrolled her in the Desruisseaux Combined School where she spent five years.
Said Sister Rose, “When I was eight years old God called me and spoke to me. God called my name and told me, “look at my people they are busy. Go to them and help them.”  I asked God “why me? I cannot do that.” He told me, yes, I can do it and He was sending me to do it. I told God no and turned my back. When I did that He came to my front and told me to go do what He asked me to do. I told Him they will not believe me so He should go to them. He then told me ok then said “go and I will go with you. I will be in you and I will speak through you.”
Shortly after this, Sister Rose had a terrible accident that landed her at the Victoria Hospital. She spent five years recovering and her doctors took a liking to her.
Sister Rose said, “I didn’t know what they saw in me but they were honest with me. I could not understand how government was treating the people inside there like that. I think it is for that reason God allowed me to go there to see it for myself.”
She was determined to do her part to help.  Three months after being released from the hospital, Sister Rose encountered another obstacle.  Her mother was ill and had asked Rose’s only sibling, a brother, to cook food.  She was racing with her brother to assist her mother because she felt she needed to make amends for the five years her mother spent travelling from Desruisseaux to Castries. Rose used her crutches and made a dash for the coal pot but her brother was still able to get to it first.  They began wrestling for it.  She took a piece of wood to try to cut it to use to light the pot. However, when she attempted to cut the wood, a piece lodged just above her eye.  Her mother rushed to her aid and too her straight to the hospital.  Unfortunately, Rose was given the wrong medication, it was too strong and burnt her eye.  All she got was apologies.
She was fifteen when she lost her eye. Once again, she said God appeared to her and prophesized.  Said Rose, “He said you will have a boy, a girl, a boy, a girl, a boy, a girl, a boy, a girl, and a boy. He then told me that the first one was His. He told me when He would come for the first one. He didn’t tell me the time. I was so scared.”
After coming home from the hospital, Rose was put on eye drops but it caused her agonizing pain.  She cried out one day and said, “Lord but you gave me your work to do. How can I confront people with that pain? If you really want me to do that work, then take the pain away.”
One day she was in her garden digging potatoes when the cutlass stuck to the ground and dirt flew into her face.  She thought she would have died that day.  She flushed her eyes with water.  Opening them, she was amazed.  There was no pain.  Even today, she feels no pain in her eye.  That is when she embarked on her journey.
At the age of sixteen, Rose began “dressing” people in her community.  That is when she met her husband and got married at the age of nineteen.  People would come from all over for her to rub them, identify their ailment and for God to heal them through her.  Rose admitted to us that she believes God has many workers.  As such, there are some things beyond her expertise, for example surgery.  If she suspects surgery would be the best option for a client, she would not attempt to “dress” or prescribe any medication.
Rose was brought up in the Catholic faith and being a spiritual person she avidly read her Bible.  One day she questioned her priest, “Why are we not keeping the Sabbath? He told me it was not him and that he was ordained to do what he was doing but the Sabbath is there for true. I got married as a Catholic and a week after, I left and joined the SDA church.”
That week she went to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and asked to be baptized but was told she couldn’t because she had never been to a Crusade.  Rose persisted and was baptized that day.
Following that, Rose believes God’s prophesies to her started materializing.  She had nine children in the order that He indicated.  The eldest was a boy.  At the age of 26, he died.
Rose went through many hardships as a mother and a wife.  Her husband was a fisherman and sometimes, things were so hard that she would take her children to the river and they would eat from the fruit trees.  At times, one loaf of bread had to feed the entire family of eleven.  Through it all Rose kept her faith and her family never complained.
After having nine children, Rose and her husband adopted five more.  None of the children, save for the first, have been hospitalized.

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