by Anura Guruge
Detailed Itinerary Of Benedict XVI’s March 23 to 28, 2012
Trip To Mexico & Cuba — January 7, 2012.
A Golden Rose (Rose d’Or), an intricate, artisan gold ornament, made from at least two ounces of gold (but often more, and thus now costing well in excess of US $4,000), depicting as of the 15th century a branch with multiple roses, is one of the oldest (from at least c. 1050) and important favors that can be bestowed by a pope.
Since the time of Leo IX (#153), [1049 - 1054] a Golden Rose is blessed each year by the pope on the fourth Sunday of Lent, Lætare Sunday (Rose Sunday/Mothering Sunday). [This year, Lætare Sunday will be on March 18 -- 5 days prior to the pope's departure to Mexico and Cuba.] Originally the blessing would take place in Rome’s Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem). In the early days the Golden Rose could also get presented to a worthy prince in the papal court straight after the ceremony. But in time this shifted to the Golden Rose being reserved to be sent to nobility, typically kings and queens (in time the fairer sex usually getting preference). It is not clear where the blessing takes place these days. It is in the Vatican, and the indications are that it happens in the Apostolic Palace as opposed to St. Peter’s.
Leo IX ordered a large monastery for nuns to be constructed in Bamberg, in the German province of Franconia. The claim is that the nuns were required to provide the pope, hence after, a Golden Rose, annually, on Lætare Sunday. If they could not meet this obligation they had to provide at least two ounces of gold as compensation. Another version of the story has it that the pope inherited this monastery (or similar) but opted to give it back to the nuns who established the tradition of paying homage to the pope for his kindness with this annual Rose.
These days the creation of the Golden Rose or Roses, usually by a famed artist, is funded and managed by the Vatican. c. 1950 the Golden Rose was not routinely awarded each year. So a new one was not produced on a yearly basis — the pope blessing the last one still at the Vatican. There were only five awarded during Paul VI’s (#263) 15 year pontificate. It appears that John Paul II (#265) made even fewer awards! Benedict XVI (#266), who appears to have a weakness for all things gold, has so far awarded 12 Golden Roses — the one he is taking to Cuba thus being his 12th (and he has yet to be pope for 7 years).
Henry VIII [1491-1547], of the six wives, the King of England & Ireland, the founder of the Church of England received not one but three (3) Golden Roses, one each from Julius II (#217), Leo X (#218) and Clement VII (#220) — which must have come in handy as nice presents for the then wife. Charles IX, King of France, was given one to celebrate the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. So if the pope gives a Golden Rose to Fidel it would not be that incongruous. But, to be fair to the pope, the Golden Rose he is taking to Cuba is not for Fidel.
Actually, since 1956 the Vatican has not presented a Golden Rose to a person (though there is nothing that says that a pope can’t renew that tradition). Instead the Golden Rose now gets awarded to shrines. Thus, the Golden Rose being taken to Cuba will be given to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity, the patron of Cuba, when the pope visits the shrine on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.
Yes, there is chatter that the pope will indeed meet with Fidel — albeit not at the Shrine. Fidel, as shown here, dressed in a snazzy black suit, did meet with John Paul II when he visited Cuba. The meeting will most likely take place in Havana, later on in the day on March 27, the pope is scheduled to meet with Fidel’s brother, the now President of Cuba.