|Devotion to Our Lady||
SOME OF THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF THE "GOLDEN ROSE" THAT HAVE BEEN CRAFTED OVER THE CENTURIES
THE CUSTOM OF THE "GOLDEN ROSE"
FOR LAETARE SUNDAY
The Golden Rose is a gold ornament, which popes of the Catholic Church have traditionally blessed annually. It is occasionally conferred as a token of reverence or affection. Recipients have included churches and sanctuaries, royalty, military figures, and governments.
The exact date of the institution of the Golden Rose is unknown. According to some it is prior to Charlemagne (742-814), according to others it had its origin at the end of the twelfth century, but it certainly antedates the year 1050, since Pope Leo IX (1051) speaks of the Golden Rose as of an ancient institution at his time.
It is said that the exclusive recipient of the Golden Rose was at one time (in the beginning), the prefect of the City of Rome. It was his duty and privilege on Laetare Sunday to lead the horse of the pope after Mass to the plaza in front of the Lateran Basilica, and to assist him in alighting from the horse. In recompense for his service the pope would award him the Golden Rose blessed during the liturgical celebration.
The custom of giving the Golden Rose supplanted the ancient practice of sending Catholic rulers the Golden Keys from St. Peter's Confessional, a custom introduced either by Pope Gregory II (716) or Pope Gregory III (740). A certain analogy exists between the Golden Rose and the Golden Keys of St. Peter: both are made of pure gold; they are both blessed and bestowed by the pope upon illustrious Catholics, and also, both are somewhat reminiscent of a reliquary—the rose contains musk and balsam, the keys are filings from the Chair of St. Peter.
When the popes moved to Avignon, of conferring the rose upon the most deserving prince at the papal court, continued after the papacy moved back to Rome. The prince would receive the Golden Rose from the pope in a solemn ceremony and be accompanied by the College of Cardinals from the papal palace to his residence. From the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Golden Rose was sent only to queens, princesses and eminent noblemen. Emperors, kings and princes were given a blessed sword and hat as a more suitable gift. However, if a deserving Catholic emperor, king or other great prince was present in Rome on Lætare Sunday, he would be presented with the Golden Rose.
A number of crowned dignitaries were subsequently recipients of the Golden Rose: Louis VII in 1163, Raymond Béranger, the last Count of Provence in 1244, and Don Juan Austria after the victory of Lepanto in 1576--to name only a few.
Association with Laetare Sunday
Traditionally, the Golden Rose is blessed on the fourth Sunday of Lent, Lætare Sunday, also known as Rose Sunday, when rose-colored liturgical vestments replace the penitential purple. The rose color symbolizes hope and joy in the midst of Lent. Morini is his Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiatica suggests that the rose color holds the balance between scarlet and purple. Rose Sunday is an opportunity to look beyond Christ's death at Calvary and see Christ, the redeemer, risen in the first rays of the Easter sun, and rejoice. The shining golden flower shows forth Christ's majesty, appropriate because prophets called him "the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys." Its fragrance, according to Pope Leo XIII "shows the sweet odor of Christ which should be widely diffused by His faithful followers", and the thorns and red tint refer to His Passion. See Isaias 63:2: "Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress?"
Recipients of the Golden Rose
Golden Roses have been awarded to people―men, women, and one married couple―as well as to states and churches. Until the sixteenth century Golden Roses were usually awarded to male sovereigns. From the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Golden Rose was sent to queens, princesses, and eminent noblemen. Emperors, kings, and princes were given a sword as a more suitable gift. However, if a deserving Catholic emperor, king or other great prince was present in Rome on Lætare Sunday, he would be presented with the rose. Among the deserving ladies we count Marié-Thérèse of Austria (1668), Charlotte of Bavaria (1819), Maria-Teresia of Sardinia (1825), Maria-Pia of Savoya (1842), empress Eugénie (1856), Elisabeth of Austria (1868), and Maria Isabella of Spain (1868)―again, to mention only some of these crowned ladies. The last male to receive a Golden Rose was Francesco Loredan, Doge of Venice, in 1759. The last female and the last sovereign to receive a Golden Rose was Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg in 1956.
Among the principal churches to which the Gold Rose has been presented are St. Peter's Basilica (five roses), the Lateran Basilica (four roses), Basilica of Mary Major (two roses), Santa Maria sopra Minerva (one rose), and Sant'Antonio dei Portoghesi (one rose). The Golden Rose was also presented to the Archconfraternity of the Gonfalone.
In the second half of the twentieth century, awards of the Golden Rose became very rare, and were all conferred upon places, mostly Marian Shrines. Pope Paul VI, for instance, made only five Conferrals of the Golden Rose during his pontificate which, without exception, were given to churches and shrines.
The Golden Rose was awarded in the Pontificate of John Paul II nine times, among the recipients were the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes (France), and St. Joseph's Oratory (Canada) in 2004.
Pope Benedict XVI made eighteen awards of the Golden Rose: among the recipients were the Sanctuary of Jasna Gora (Częstochowa, Poland); the Basilica of Aparecida (Brazil), the Mariazell Basilica (Austria), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and the Shrine of Our Lady of Ta'Pinu on Malta.
Symbolism of the Golden Rose
Many papal diplomas and papal sermons when conferring it have explained the rose's mystical significance. Innocent III said: "As Lætare Sunday, the day set apart for the function, represents love after hate, joy after sorrow, and fullness after hunger, so does the rose designate by its color, odor and taste, love, joy and satiety respectively." and compared the rose to the flower referred to in Isaiah 11:1: "There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root."
The rose, according to Morini, represents charity (fragrance), joy (color), and spiritual substance (taste), and thus stands for the person of Jesus Christ. Durandus of Mende (died 1296) assimilates the rose with eternal spring after the gloom of winter of this life. Through his Passion and Resurrection, both symbolized in the Golden Rose, Jesus Christ opens the door to eternal spring.
Prior to the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471-1484) the Golden Rose consisted of a simple and single flower made of gold slightly tinted with red. Later, to embellish the ornament while still retaining the religious symbolism, rubies and other precious gems were placed in the heart of the rose or on its petals. Pope Sixtus IV replaced the single rose with a bouquet or bunch of ten or more roses. In the center of the principal rose was a tiny cup with a perforated cover filled with balsam and musk.
The Design and Material of the Golden Rose
Pope Sixtus IV substituted in place of the single rose a thorny branch with leaves and many (ten or more) roses, the largest of which sprang from the top of the branch with smaller roses clustering around it. In the center of the principal rose was a tiny cup with a perforated cover, into which the pope poured musk and balsam to bless the rose. The whole ornament was of pure gold. This 'Sixtine' design was maintained but varied as to decoration, size, weight and value. Originally it was little over three inches in height, and was easily carried in pope's left hand as he blessed the multitude with his right hand, when passing in procession from the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (in Rome) to the Lateran Palace. Afterwards, especially when a vase and large pedestal became part of the ornament, a robust cleric was required to carry it, preceding the papal cross in the procession. The rose sent to Wilhelmina Amalia of Brunswick, wife of Joseph I, afterwards emperor, by Innocent XI, weighed twenty pounds and was almost eighteen inches high. It was in bouquet form, with three twisting branches that came together after many windings at the top of the stem, supporting a large rose and cluster of leaves.
The vase and the pedestal supporting it have varied as to material, weight, and form. In the beginning they were made of gold; but afterward of silver heavily gilt with gold. The pedestal can be either triangular, quadrangular, or octangular, and is richly ornamented with various decorations and bas-reliefs. In addition to the customary inscription, the coat of arms of the pope who had the ornament made, and that of he who blessed and conferred it, are engraved on the pedestal.
Value of the ornament
The value of the rose varies according to the munificence of the pontiffs or the economic circumstances of the times. Father Baldassari, S.J. (De Rosa Mediana, p. 190) says that the rose conferred about the year 1650 cost five hundred dollars. The two roses sent by Pope Alexander VII were valued at eight and twelve hundred dollars respectively. Pope Clement IX sent the Queen of France one costing twelve hundred dollars [1650 rate], made of eight pounds of gold. The workmanship on this rose was exceedingly fine, for which the artificer received three hundred dollars. Innocent IX caused eight and one-half pounds of gold to be formed into a rose, which was further embellished with many sapphires, costing in all fourteen hundred dollars. In the 19th century not a few of the roses cost two thousand dollars and more [in the value of currency at that time].
Blessing of the Rose
The earliest roses were not blessed; instead, blessing was introduced to render the ceremony more solemn and induce greater reverence for it on the part of the recipient. According to Cardinal Petra, Pope Innocent IV (1245–54) was the first to bless it. However, others claim that Pope Innocent III (1198–1216), Pope Alexander III (1159–81), or Pope Leo IX (1049–55) was the first. It is said that Leo IX, in 1051, obliged the monastery (nuns) of Bamberg in Franconia, to furnish a Golden Rose to be blessed and carried on Laetare Sunday each year. Pope Benedict XIV attests that the ceremony of blessing originated at the end of the 14th, or the beginning of the 15th century. Catalanus, papal master of ceremonies, believes that even the earliest Golden Roses were anointed with musk and balsam, but the blessing with prayers, incense, and holy water had its inception later on, sometime before pontificate of Pope Julius II (1503–13). Currently, the pope blesses the Golden Rose every year, but it is not always a new and different rose; for the old one is used until it has been given away—at which point a new one has to be made.
Originally (before the papacy moved to Avignon), the Golden Rose was blessed in the Hall of Vestments (the sacristy) in the palace where the pope was; but the solemn Mass and the donation of the rose took place in the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (a figure, according to Pope Innocent III, of the heavenly Jerusalem). The blessing was followed by a solemn Mass, sung either by the pope himself or the first Cardinal Priest. In the former case the Golden Rose was placed on a veil of rose-colored silk, richly embroidered with gold; in the latter case the pope held the rose in his hand, except while kneeling, or during the Introit, Confiteor, Elevation and the singing of "Laudemus in Domino".
Rose in hand, the pope returned processionally to the Lateran Palace; the Prefect of Rome led his horse by the bridle and aided him in dismounting. Upon arrival, he gave the rose to the Prefect, as a recompense for these acts of respect and homage. Prior to 1305, the Golden Rose was given in Rome to no foreigner, except the Emperor on the day of his coronation. While residing at Avignon (1305–1375), the popes, unable to visit Roman churches and basilicas, performed many of their sacred functions, among them the blessing of the Golden Rose, in the private chapel of their palace (whence the origin of the Cappella Pontificia). On their return to Rome they (Sixtus V excepted) retained this custom.
The blessing of the rose now takes place in the Hall of Vestments (sacristy), and the solemn Mass in the papal chapel. The Golden Rose is placed on a table with lighted candles, and the pope, vested in alb and rose-colored stole and cope with precious miter on his head, begins the ceremony with the usual versicles and the following poetical prayer:
The Prayer of Blessing
"O God! by Whose word and power all things have been created, by Whose will all things are directed, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty, Who art the joy and gladness of all the faithful, that Thou wouldst deign in Thy fatherly love to bless and sanctify this rose, most delightful in odor and appearance, which we this day carry in sign of spiritual joy, in order that the people consecrated by Thee and delivered from the yoke of Babylonian slavery through the favor of Thine only-begotten Son, Who is the glory and exultation of the people of Israel and of that Jerusalem which is our Heavenly mother, may with sincere hearts show forth their joy. Wherefore, O Lord, on this day, when the Church exults in Thy name and manifests her joy by this sign [the rose], confer upon us through her true and perfect joy and accepting her devotion of today; do Thou remit sin, strengthen faith, increase piety, protect her in Thy mercy, drive away all things adverse to her and make her ways safe and prosperous, so that Thy Church, as the fruit of good works, may unite in giving forth the perfume of the ointment of that flower sprung from the root of Jesse and which is the mystical flower of the field and lily of the valleys, and remain happy without end in eternal glory together with all the saints."
The prayer finished, the pope puts incense (handed by the cardinal-deacon) into the censer and incenses the balsam and then the musk, and afterwards puts the balsam and powdered musk into the tiny cup in the heart of the principal rose. He then incenses the rose and sprinkles it with holy water. It is then given to the youngest cleric of the Camera, who carries it in front of the pope to the chapel, where it is placed on the altar at the foot of the cross upon a richly embroidered silk veil, where it remains during the Mass sung by the first cardinal-priest. After the Mass, the Golden Rose was carried in procession before the pope to the sacristy, where it is carefully put away in a place set apart for it, until bestowed upon some worthy personage or shrine.
The Forty Days’ Fast, which we call Lent (In most languages the name given to this Fast expresses the number of the day, Forty. But our word Lent signifies the Spring-Fast; for Lenten-Tide, in the ancient English-Saxon language, was the season of Spring. Translator.), is the Church’s preparation for Easter, and was instituted at the very commencement of Christianity. Our Blessed Lord himself sanctioned it by his fasting forty days and forty nights in the desert; and though he would not impose it on the world by an express commandment, (which, then, could not have been open to the power of dispensation,) yet he showed plainly enough by his own example, that Fasting, which God had so frequently ordered in the Old Law, was to be also practiced by the Children of the New.
The Disciples of St. John the Baptist came, one day, to Jesus, and said to him: “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy Disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast” (Matthew 9:14-15).
Hence, we find it mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, how the Disciples of our Lord, after the Foundation of the Church, applied themselves to Fasting. In their Epistles, also, they recommended it to the Faithful. Nor could it be otherwise. Though the divine mysteries, whereby our Savior wrought our redemption, have been consummated, yet are we still Sinners: and where there is sin, there must be expiation.
The Apostles, therefore, legislated for our weakness, by instituting, at the very commencement of the Christian Church, that the Solemnity of Easter should be preceded by a universal Fast; and it was only natural, that they should have made this period of Penance to consist of Forty Days, seeing that our Divine Master had consecrated that number by his own Fast. St. Jerome , St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Isidore of Seville, and others of the holy Fathers, assure us that Lent was instituted by the Apostles, although, at the commencement, there was not any uniform way of observing it.
We have already seen, in our Septuagesima, that the Orientals begin their Lent much earlier than the Latins, owing to their custom of never fasting on Saturdays, (or, in some places, even on Thursdays). They are, consequently, obliged, in order to make up the forty days, to begin the Lenten Fast on the Monday preceding our Sexagesima Sunday. These are the kind of exceptions, which prove the rule. We have also shown, how the Latin Church, ― which, even so late as the 6th Century, kept only thirty-six fasting days during the six weeks of Lent, (for the Church has never allowed Sundays to be kept as days of fast) thought proper to add, later on, the last four days of Quinquagesima, in order that her Lent might contain exactly Forty Days of Fast.
The whole subject of Lent has been so often and so fully treated, that we shall abridge, as much as possible, the History we are now giving. The nature of our Work forbids us to do more, than insert what is essential for the entering into the spirit of each Season. God grant, that we may succeed in showing to the Faithful the importance of the holy institution of Lent! Its influence on the spiritual life, and on the very salvation, of each one among us, can never be over-rated.
Lent, then, is a time consecrated, in an especial manner, to penance; and this penance is mainly practiced by Fasting. Fasting is an abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself, as an expiation for sin, and which, during Lent, is practiced in obedience to the general law of the Church.
According to the actual discipline of the Western Church, the Fast of Lent is not more rigorous than that prescribed for the Vigils of certain Feasts, and for the Ember Days; but it is kept up for Forty successive Days, with the single interruption of the intervening Sundays.
We deem it unnecessary to show the importance and advantages of Fasting. The Sacred Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, are filled with the praises of this holy practice. The traditions of every nation of the world testify the universal veneration, in which it has ever been held; for there is not a people, nor a religion, how much soever it may have lost the purity of primitive traditions, which is not impressed with this conviction―that man may appease his God by subjecting his body to penance.
St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great, make the remark, that the commandment put upon our First Parents, in the earthly paradise, was one of Abstinence; and that it was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every kind of evil upon themselves and us their children. The life of privation, which the king of creation had thenceforward to lead on the earth―(for the earth was to yield him nothing of its own natural growth, save thorns and thistles)―was the clearest possible exemplification of the law of penance, imposed by the anger of God on rebellious man.
During the two thousand and more years, which preceded the Deluge, men had no other food than the fruits of the earth, and these were only got by the toil of hard labor. But when God, as we have already observed, mercifully shortened man’s life, (that so he might have less time and power for sin)―he permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as an additional nourishment in that state of deteriorated strength. It was then, also, that Noah, guided by a divine inspiration, extracted the juice of the grape, which thus formed a second stay for human debility.
Fasting, then, is the abstaining from such nourishment as these, which were permitted for the support of bodily strength. And firstly, it consisted in abstinence from flesh-meat, because it is a food that was given to man by God, out of condescension to his weakness, and not as one absolutely essential for the maintenance of life. Its privation, greater or less according to the regulations of the Church, is essential to the very notion of Fasting.
Thus, whilst in many countries, the use of eggs, milk-meats, and even dripping and lard, is tolerated―the abstaining from flesh-meat is everywhere maintained, as being essential to Fasting. For many centuries, eggs and milk-meats were not allowed, because they come under the class of animal food: even to this day, they are forbidden in the Eastern Churches, and are only allowed in the Latin Church by virtue of an annual dispensation. The precept of abstaining from flesh-meat is so essential to Lent, that even on Sundays, when the Fasting is interrupted, Abstinence is an obligation, binding even on those who are dispensed from the fasts of the week, unless there be a special dispensation granted for eating meat on the Sundays.
In the early ages of Christianity, Fasting included also the abstaining from Wine, as we learn from St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, Theophilus of Alexandria, and others. In the West, this custom soon fell into disuse. The Eastern Christians kept it up much longer, but even with them it has ceased to be considered as obligatory. (Dom Guerange, The Liturgical Year, Volume on Lent)