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date: 21 November 2019

Papal roselocked

  • Nigel J. Morgan


Golden branches of roses, some embellished with jewels, symbolizing Christ’s love and Passion, given on rare occasions to persons and places specially favoured by the Pope for services to the Church. Most popes have given no more than four or five during their pontificate and some none at all. The earliest documented example is that granted to Fulk IV Rechin, Count of Anjou (reg 1067–1109), at Angers by Pope Urban II (reg 1088–99) at the time of the First Crusade in 1096. The origin of the custom is unknown, but by the 13th century a special liturgical rite of the blessing of the golden rose had been established. Usually the gifts were to individuals, but on rare occasions since the 14th century they have been given to churches, shrines of the Virgin or even cities. Roses were usually given to persons of the highest rank and, up to the 14th century, exclusively to men, but in ...

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