Golden Rose

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.

Golden Rose by Giuseppe and Pietro Paolo Spagna. Rome, around 1818/19. Kept today in the Imperial Treasury in Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna.

Significance and symbolism

Golden Rose of Minucchio da Siena (1330), given by Pope John XXII to Rudolph III of Nidau, Count of Neuchâtel

The rose is blessed on the fourth Sunday of Lent, Lætare Sunday (also known as Rose Sunday), when rose-coloured vestments and draperies substitute for the penitential purple, symbolizing hope and joy in the midst of Lenten solemnity. Throughout most of Lent, Catholics pray, fast, perform penance, and meditate upon the malice of sin and its negative effects; but Rose Sunday is an opportunity to look beyond Christ's death at Calvary and forward to His joyous Resurrection. The beautiful Golden Rose symbolizes the Risen Christ of glorious majesty. (The Messiah is hailed "the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys" in the Bible.)[1] The rose's fragrance, according to Pope Leo XIII, "shows the sweet odor of Christ which should be widely diffused by His faithful followers" (Acta, vol. VI, 104), and the thorns and red tint of the petals refer to His bloody Passion.

Many popes, on the occasion of conferring the Rose, have in sermons and letters explained its 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 colour, odour and taste, love, joy and satiety respectively," also comparing 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."

History and development of the modern Rose

Workmanship

The blossom

Before the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471–84) the Golden Rose consisted of a simple and single blossom made of pure gold and slightly tinted with red. Later, to embellish the ornament while still retaining the mystical symbolism, the gold was left untinted but rubies and afterwards many precious gems were placed in the heart of the rose or on its petals.

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 'Sistine' 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 the 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.

Vase and pedestal

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

Golden Rose from the Vatican Library.

The value of the rose varies according to the munificence of the pontiffs or the economic circumstances of the times. Baldassari (1709) says that the rose conferred about the year 1650 cost about 500 scudi d'oro (equivalent of about 1.7 kg of gold). The two roses sent by Pope Alexander VII were valued at about 800 and 1200 scudi respectively. Pope Clement IX sent the Queen of France one costing about 1600 scudi, made of eight pounds of gold. The workmanship on this rose was exceedingly fine, for which the artificer received the equivalent of 300 scudi. Innocent XI caused seven and one-half pounds of gold to be formed into a rose, which was further embellished with many sapphires, costing in all 1450 scudi.[2] Rock (1909) adds that in the 19th century not a few of the roses cost 2000 scudi and more.[3]

Origin

The custom of giving the 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 rose and the keys: both are of pure gold 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.

The exact date of the institution of the rose is unknown. According to some it is anterior to Charlemagne (742-814), according to others it had its origin at the end of the 12th century, but it certainly antedates the year 1050, since Pope Leo IX (1051) speaks of the rose as of an ancient institution at his time.

The custom, started 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 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 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 rose.

The office of carrying and conferring the rose upon those living outside of Rome was given by the pope to cardinal legates a latere, nuncios, inter-nuncios and Apostolic ablegates. In 1895 a new office, called "Bearer of the Golden Rose" or "Keeper of the Golden Rose", destined for Members of Royal Houses (not hereditary), was instituted, and assigned to a secret chamberlain of sword and cloak participant, a rank within the Papal Household, but it was abolished in a series of reforms in 1968 by Pope Paul VI.

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 (Comment. in Constit. Apostolicas, III, 2, col. 1), 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 (Theop. Raynaud, De rosa mediana a pontifice consecrata, IV, 413). 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 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 rose every year, but it is not always a new and different rose; the old one is used until it has been given away.

Originally (before the papacy moved to Avignon) the rose was blessed in the Hall of Vestments (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 rose was placed on a veil of rose-colored silk richly embroidered with gold; in the latter 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. Before 1305, the rose was given in Rome to no foreigner, except to 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 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 Golden Rose is presented by Archbishop Domenico Maria Jacobini to Amélie of Orléans, Queen of Portugal, at Necessidades Palace, 1892

The blessing of the rose now takes place in the Hall of Vestments (camera dei parimenti), and the solemn Mass in the papal chapel. The rose is placed on a table with lighted candles, and the pope, vested in alb and rose-colored stole and cope with precious mitre on his head, begins the ceremony with the usual versicles and the following poetical prayer:

"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 odour 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 favour 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 rose is 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.

Recipients

Golden Rose of the Basilica of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel

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 sixteenth century onwards it became more common to award them to female sovereigns and to the wives of sovereigns. The last male to receive a Golden Rose was Francesco Loredan, Doge of Venice, in 1759. The last person to receive a Golden Rose was Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, in 1956.

Among the principal churches to which the rose has been presented are St. Peter's Basilica (five roses), the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran (four roses),[4] and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (two roses).[5]

Since Paul VI, all Golden Roses have been awarded to churches; all of Benedict XVI's awards were to Marian shrines.

Year Recipient Pope Type of recipient Geographical area of recipient Notes
1096Fulk IV, Count of AnjouUrban IImanFrance[6]
1148Alfonso VII, King of León and CastileEugene IIImanSpain
1163Louis VII, King of FranceAlexander IIImanFrance
1183William I, King of ScotsLucius IIImanScotland[7]
1227Raimondo OrsiniGregory IXmanItaly[8]
1244Church of Saint Juste, LyonInnocent IVchurchFrance[8]
1304Church of San Domenico, PerugiaBenedict XIchurchItaly[8]
1348Louis I, King of NaplesClement VImanItaly
1348Louis I, King of HungaryClement VImanHungary[8]
1350Niccolò Acciaioli, Grand Seneschal of NaplesInnocent VImanItaly[8]
1362-70Valdemar IV of DenmarkUrban VmanDenmark[8]
1368Joanna I, Queen of NaplesUrban VwomanItaly[8]
1369St. Peter's BasilicaUrban VchurchItaly[8]
1389Raimondo Del Balzo OrsiniUrban VmanItaly[8]
1391Alberto d'Este, Marquis of FerraraBoniface IXmanItaly[8]
1393Astorre I Manfredi da BagnacavalloBoniface IXmanItaly[8]
1398Ugolino III Trinci, Lord of FolignoBoniface IXmanItaly[8]
1410Niccolò III d'Este, Marquis of FerraraAlexander VmanItaly[9]
1411Charles VI, King of FranceJohn XXIIImanFrance[9]
1413Luigi Alidosi, Lord of ImolaJohn XXIIImanItaly[9]
1415Sigismund, Holy Roman EmperorJohn XXIIImanGermany[9]
1419Republic of FlorenceMartin VstateItaly[9]
1420Guidantonio da Montefeltro, Count of UrbinoMartin VmanItaly[9]
1435Sigismund, Holy Roman EmperorEugene IVmanGermany[9]
1444Henry VI, King of EnglandEugene IVmanEngland
1448Casimir IV, King of PolandNicholas VmanPoland
1452Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Empress EleonoraNicholas VcoupleGermanyreceived the day after they were crowned
1457Charles VII, King of FranceCallistus IIImanFrance
1461 March 15 Thomas Palaiologos Pius II man Greece [10]
1477Ludovico III Gonzaga, Marquis of MantuaSixtus IVmanItaly[11]
1481Louis XI of FranceSixtus IVmanFrance[12]
1482Eberhard I, Duke of WürttembergSixtus IVmanGermany
1486James III, King of ScotlandInnocent VIIImanScotland
1491James IV, King of ScotlandInnocent VIIImanScotland
1493Isabella I, Queen of CastileAlexander VIwomanSpain
1505Alexander Jagiellon, King of PolandJulius IImanPoland
1506Manuel I, King of PortugalJulius IImanPortugal
1514Manuel I, King of PortugalLeo XmanPortugalSecond award
1518Frederick III, Elector of SaxonyLeo XmanGermany
1512?Henry VIII, King of EnglandJulius IImanEngland
1521?Henry VIII, King of EnglandLeo XmanEngland
1524Henry VIII, King of EnglandClement VIImanEngland
1537Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of MantuaPaul IIImanItaly[13] because of his kindness towards the Fathers of the Council of Trent
1543Ercole II d'Este, Duke of FerraraPaul IIImanItaly[14]
1548Catherine de' Medici, Queen of FrancePaul IIIwomanFrance[14]
1550João Manuel, Prince of PortugalJulius IIImanPortugal[14]
1551Basilica di Santa Maria MaggioreJulius IIIchurchItaly[14]
1555Mary I, Queen of EnglandPaul IVwomanEngland[14]
1557María Enríquez Álvarez de Toledo, Duchess of Alba de TormesPaul IVwomanSpain[14] wife of Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 3rd Duke of Alba de Tormes
1560Mary, Queen of ScotsPius IVwomanScotland
1561Anne, Queen of BohemiaPius IVwomanBohemia[14]
1564Republic of LuccaPius IVstateItaly[14]
1572Charles IX, King of FranceGregory XIIImanFrancegiven in appreciation of the King's role in enabling St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
1574 March 24 Don John of Austria Gregory XIII man Spain and Germany given in the church of St. Clara, Naples, by the Pope's Chamberlain, "in token of his [the Pope's] benevolence and paternal love."[15]
1592Henry IV, King of FranceClement VIIImanFrance
1597Morosina MorosiniClement VIIIwomanVenicegiven at her coronation as Dogaressa of Venice
1598Margaret, Queen of SpainClement VIIIwomanSpainreceived on the day she was married by proxy to Philip III, King of Spain
1607Santa Maria sopra MinervaPaul VchurchItaly[16]
1610Sancta SanctorumPaul VchurchItaly[16]
1625Henrietta Maria, Queen of England and ScotlandUrban VIIIwomanEngland and Scotland[16] received at Amiens
1626/7Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of TuscanyUrban VIIImanItaly[16]
1628Maddalena, Dowager Grand Duchess of TuscanyUrban VIIIwomanItaly[16]
1630Maria Anna, Queen of HungaryUrban VIIIwomanGermany[16] later Empress Consort
1631Taddeo Barberini, Prefect of RomeUrban VIIImanItaly[16] he was the pope's nephew
1634St. Peter's BasilicaUrban VIIIchurchItaly[16]
1635Maria Anna, Electress of BavariaUrban VIIIwomanGermany[17]
1649Mariana, Queen of SpainInnocent XwomanSpain[18]
1651?Marie Louise, Queen of PolandInnocent XwomanPoland[18]
1654Lucrezia, Duchess of ModenaInnocent XwomanItaly[18]
1658Siena CathedralAlexander VIIchurchItaly[18] cathedral of the pope's hometown, rose designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
1668Maria Theresa, Queen of FranceAlexander VIIwomanFrancefor her infant son, the Dauphin, for whom the pope was godfather
1672Elenor, Queen of PolandClement XwomanPoland
1684 March 25Marie Casimire Louise, Queen of PolandInnocent XIwomanPoland[19]
1699Wilhelmina Amalia, Empress of the Holy Roman EmpireInnocent XIIwomanGermany
1701Maria Luisa, Queen of SpainClement XIwomanSpain
1726Violante Beatrice, Grand Princess of TuscanyBenedict XIIIwomanItaly[20]
1736Maria Josepha, Queen of PolandClement XIIwomanPoland[21]
1759Francesco Loredan, Doge of VeniceClement XIIImanItaly
1776Maria Christina, Duchess of TeschenPius VIwomanAustria
1784Maria Amalia, Duchess of ParmaPius VIwomanItaly
1790Maria Carolina, Queen of NaplesPius VIwomanItaly
1819Caroline Augusta, Empress of AustriaLeo XIIwomanAustria
1825Maria Theresa, Queen Dowager of SardiniaLeo XIIwomanItaly
1830Cathedral of CingoliPius VIIIchurchItaly[22] cathedral of the pope's hometown
1832Maria Anna, Queen of HungaryGregory XVIwomanAustria[22] later Empress Consort of Austria
1833St Mark's BasilicaGregory XVIchurchItaly[22]
1842Maria II, Queen of PortugalGregory XVIwomanPortugal
1849Princess Maria Pia of SavoyPius IXwomanItalygiven by her godfather on the day of her baptism; later Queen Consort of Portugal
1856Eugenie, Empress of the FrenchPius IXwomanFrance
1861Maria Sophie, Queen of the Two SiciliesPius IXwomanItaly
1868Elisabeth, Empress of AustriaPius IXwomanAustria
1868Isabella II, Queen of SpainPius IXwomanSpain
1870Sant'Antonio dei PortoghesiPius IXchurchItaly[23]
1877 Sep.Sanctuary of Our Lady of LourdesPius IXshrineFrance[24]
1886Maria Christina, Queen Dowager of SpainLeo XIIIwomanSpain
1887 Mary Gwendoline Caldwell Leo XIII woman United States Mrs. Caldwell had donated money towards the founding of the Catholic University of America[25][26]
1888Isabel, Princess Imperial of BrazilLeo XIIIwomanBrazilsee Lei Áurea
1892Amélie, Queen of PortugalLeo XIIIwomanPortugal
1893Marie Henriette, Queen of the BelgiansLeo XIIIwomanBelgium
1923Victoria Eugenie, Queen of SpainPius XIwomanSpain
1926Elisabeth, Queen of the BelgiansPius XIwomanBelgium
1930Elena, Queen of ItalyPius XIwomanItaly[27]
1937Elena, Queen of ItalyPius XIwomanItaly[28] in observance of her 40th wedding anniversary
1953Se CathedralPius XIIchurchIndia[29] placed on the tomb of Francis Xavier
1956Charlotte, Grand Duchess of LuxembourgPius XIIwomanLuxembourg
1964Church of the NativityPaul VIchurchPalestine[30]
1965Sanctuary of Our Lady of FátimaPaul VIshrinePortugal[31]
1966 March 25Basilica of Our Lady of GuadalupePaul VIchurchMexico[29]
1967Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida (now known as the "Old Basilica of Aparecida")Paul VIchurchBrazil[29]
1979 JuneBlack Madonna of CzęstochowaJohn Paul IIshrinePoland[32]
1979 Sep.Knock ShrineJohn Paul IIshrineIreland[33]
1982 JuneBasilica of Our Lady of LujánJohn Paul IIshrineArgentina[34][35][36]
1985 June 28Basilica of Assumption of Mary and Saints Cyril and Methodius in VelehradJohn Paul IIshrineCzech Republic[37][38]
1987 JuneKalwaria ZebrzydowskaJohn Paul IIshrinePoland[39]
1988 May 14Sanctuary of Our Lady of the EvangelizationJohn Paul IIshrineLima, Peru[40]
2000 Dec.Holy House of LoretoJohn Paul IIshrineItaly
2004 Aug. 14Sanctuary of Our Lady of LourdesJohn Paul IIshrineFrance[41] Second award
2004 Oct. 17Saint Joseph's OratoryJohn Paul IIchurchMontreal, Canada

[42]

2004 Dec.Sameiro SanctuaryJohn Paul IIshrineBraga, Portugal

[43]

2006Black Madonna of CzęstochowaBenedict XVIshrinePolandSecond award
2007 May 12Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida ("New Basilica of Aparecida")Benedict XVIshrineBrazilSecond award to the image of Our Lady Aparecida. The first award was given to the image in 1967 when it was housed in the Old Basilica, before the construction and consecration of the new Basilica in 1980.[44]
2007 Sep. 8Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary MariazellBenedict XVIshrineAustria[45][46]
2008 Apr. 9Shrine of Our Lady of AltöttingBenedict XVIshrineAltötting, Germany[47]
2008 Apr. 16Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate ConceptionBenedict XVIshrineWashington D.C., USA[48]
2008 May 17Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della MisericordiaBenedict XVIshrineSavona, Italy[49]
2008 May 18Shrine of Nostra Signora della GuardiaBenedict XVIshrineGenoa, Italy[49]
2008 Sep. 7Shrine of Our Lady of BonariaBenedict XVIshrineCagliary, Italy[49]
2008 Oct. 19Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary of PompeiBenedict XVIshrinePompei, Italy[50]

[51]

2009 Apr. 28Shrine of Our Lady of the CrossBenedict XVIshrineAquila, Italyafter the earthquake[52]
2009 MayShrine of Our Lady of EuropeBenedict XVIshrineGibraltar[53][54]
2009 Nov. 22Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la CabezaBenedict XVIshrineJaén, Spain[49]
2010Catedral Basílica de Nuestra Señora del ValleBenedict XVIchurchArgentina[36][55]
2010 Apr. 18Shrine of Our Lady of Ta' PinuBenedict XVIshrineMalta[56]
2010 May 12Sanctuary of Our Lady of FátimaBenedict XVIshrinePortugalSecond award[57]

[58]

2010 Aug. 23Sanctuary of Our Lady of the ValleyBenedict XVIshrineCatamarca, Argentina[59]
2010 Nov. 13Virgen of SocorroBenedict XVIshrineValencia, Venezuela[60]
2011 May 15Basilica of Our Lady of ScherpenheuvelBenedict XVIshrineBelgium

[61]

2012 March 26Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la CaridadBenedict XVIchurchCobre, Cuba[62][63]
2013 Nov. 22Basilica of Our Lady of GuadalupeFrancisshrineMexico

[64] Second award

2015 June 21 Santuario della Consolata Francis shrine Italy [65] Given during the pope's visit during the public showing of the Shroud of Turin
2016 July 28 Black Madonna of Częstochowa Francis shrine Poland [66] Third Award
2017 May 13 Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima Francis shrine Portugal Third Award[67]
2017 October 7Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida ("New Basilica of Aparecida")FrancisshrineBrazilThird award of the Golden Rose to the icon of Our Lady Aparecida; second award since the icon was transferred from the Old Basilica to the new Basilica. This award commemorates the 300 anniversary of the icon's appearance and of devotion to it.[68]
2019 June 1 Our Lady of Csíksomlyó Francis shrine Transylvania, Romania [69]
2021 September 15Basilica of Our Lady of SorrowsFrancisshrineSlovakia[70]

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