Francis will donate the Golden Rose to the Virgin Salus Populi Romani

Symbol of the papal blessing, it will be given by Francis to the Marian icon kept in Santa Maria Maggiore on the evening of 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. A historic gesture that has not been repeated for 400 years.

The Act of Veneration of the statue of the Immaculate Conception in the Plaza de España, which the Pope will hold at 4 p.m. on 8 December, will have a small ceremony half an hour earlier in Santa Maria Maggiore, where Francis will arrive on the traditional visit to the basilica to bring the gift of the “Golden Rose” to the icon of the Virgin Salus Populi Romani.

An ancient gift
The Golden Rose has ancient roots, symbolising the papal blessing, and the tradition of this gift dates back to the Middle Ages. Over the centuries it has been given to monasteries, shrines, sovereigns and prominent personalities in recognition of their commitment to the faith and the common good. With the gift of the Rose to the Salus, “Pope Francis – reads a note from the Marian basilica – underlines the spiritual importance and profound significance that this icon has in the life of the Catholic Church, as it is also the oldest Marian shrine in the West dedicated to the Mother of God”.

The two precedents
The one to be donated by the Pope is not the only Rose attributed to the Salus. The first was donated in 1551 by Pope Julius III, who had a great devotion to the Marian icon preserved in the Basilica and where, on the altar of the Crib, he had celebrated his first Mass. In 1613, Pope Paul V donated the Golden Rose on the occasion of the transfer of the venerated icon to the new chapel erected for this purpose. The Basilica retains no trace of the two Golden Roses donated by the two Popes, which were probably lost with the Napoleonic invasion of the Papal States (Treaty of Tolentino 1797). Thus, after 400 years, the note continues, “the Pontiff has chosen to give a tangible sign of his devotion to the venerated icon, reinforcing the millenary bond between the Catholic Church and the city of Rome”.

“Historic gesture”.
At the news of this tribute, the extraordinary curator of the basilica, Monsignor Rolandas Makrickas, expressed his joy: “The gift of the Golden Rose is an historic gesture that visibly expresses the deep bond of Pope Francis with the Mother of God, venerated in this shrine under the title of Salus Populi Romani. The people of God will be further strengthened in their spiritual and devotional bond with the Blessed Virgin Mary. We ask the Salus for the gift of peace for the whole world.