What is the golden rose?

December 14, 2016 | Author: | Posted in Jewelry, Religion

The golden rose is an artificial ornament of pure gold set with gems and made by skilled artificers. It is blessed by the Pope on the fourth (Laetare) Sunday in Lent, which for that reason is sometimes called “Rose Sunday.” For centuries the popes have been accustomed to confer the golden rose upon churches and sanctuaries, Catholic rulers and other persons of distinction, as well as on governments and cities, conspicuous for their Catholic spirit and loyalty to the Holy See. The origin of the custom is obscure. According to some authorities, it originated in 1049 with Pope Leo IX. This Pope, wishing to establish his authority over the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Alsace, exacted from it each year a golden rose, which was blessed by the Pope on the fourth Sunday in Lent and presented to the individual or city best deserving the favor of the Holy See. In feudal clays the presentation of a red rose was the symbol of fealty and the token of annual rent. A golden rose weighing one hundred fifty pounds, inscribed with the names of Constantine the Great and his mother Helena, was placed by the Roman Emperor on the legendary tomb of St. Peter in Rome. However it originated, it superseded the custom of bestowing the Golden Keys of St. Peter’s Confessional on Catholic rulers. In recent times the golden rose has been reserved for Catholic queens. Originally and until the close of the fifteenth century the golden rose consisted of a single rose of pure gold slightly tinted red. The sacred ornament was about six inches high and in the center was a cup formed by the petals. During the ceremony of blessing the golden rose with incense and holy water the Pope poured balsam and musk into this cup. Then the ornament was carried in solemn procession to the sacristry of the Pope’s private chapel. Sixtus IV, who was Pope from 1471 to 1484, substituted for the single flower an upright thorny branch with leaves and with one large central flower and other smaller flowers. That is still the general type of the golden rose, the petals of which are decked with gems. The ancient ceremony of blessing the golden rose has undergone little change. The same ornament is used at the annual ceremony until it is given away, which may not be for many years. Two English kings and two English queens have received the golden rose. They were Henry VI; Henry VIII, who received it three different times from three different popes; Queen Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, and Henrietta Maria, queen consort of Charles I.

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