With the Rosary, Christian people place themselves at the school of Mary, to allow themselves to be introduced to the contemplation of the beauty of the face of Christ and to experience the depth of his love.
John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae
Why bless roses on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary?
For many centuries, the devotion to the Rosary has been entrusted by the Church in a special way to the Dominican Order.
Even today, the Dominican parishes observe the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary with a public recitation of the Holy Rosary, the blessing of the rosaries and the blessing and distribution of roses (or rose petals).The petals may seem a sacramental a bit ‘special, but it is brilliant to link this particular flower and the powerful prayer of the Virgin.
A rose with another name
The name of the Rosary comes from the Latin term rosarium, meaning a wreath or a bouquet of roses. In the fourth century, Gregorio Nazianzeno talks about “making a garland for the Virgin Mary”. The garland here indicates the same crown thing.According to German and Spanish legends of the thirteenth century, a monk saw the “Ave” that offered to Mary become a chain of roses.
What a beautiful image! Pope Leo XIII says: “When we greet Mary with the angelic greeting ‘full of grace’, we present to the Blessed Virgin, in the repetition of our words of praise, roses that emit the most pleasant scent”. Every prayer offered through Mary takes on the sense of a lovingly arranged rose.
Evoking the Passion
To ensure that our concept of the Rosary is not reduced to romantic sentimentality to offer flowers, we should remember that roses also have a “dark side”. The thorns should remind us of the crown of our Savior during his Passion. The red petals evoke the drops of blood that he poured. Their thin stems? They recall the cane he held in his hand as he was cruelly mocked and the sticks with which he was beaten.Their leaves? The clothes ripped from his tortured body.
It is not by chance that the Christians chose the roses, which the Greeks associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and applied them to Mary. The Virgin lets us enter into the mystery of the love of Christ, reminding us at the same time that true love requires sacrifice. For Christians, the rose is a catechism of the love of Christ.
Sign of grace
Roses are also signs of the graces that Divine Providence allows Mary to offer. The fallen roses from the mantle of Juan Diego. A rose embellished the Virgin’s forehead at Knock. At La Salette the roses crowned her head, a crown of roses adorned her cloak and a third wreath surrounded her feet. In Lourdes, Saint Bernadette saw a rose that bloomed on each of her feet.
The fact that the rose appears repeatedly indicates its privileged link with devotion to Our Lady. Mary herself chose her as one of her symbols.
Among the many things that represent the rose, we should interpret it as an element that manifests, as Pope Pius XII says, “the fullness of its perfection and the delicacy of its goodness”.
Take advantage of October, the month of the Holy Rosary, to grasp the graces that Our Lady wants to offer. Take the rosary and place your prayers at your feet.