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Pope Francis to Present Golden Rose to Salus Populi Romani on Feast of the Immaculate Conception

On the upcoming Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis is set to make a historic gesture by placing a Golden Rose at the feet of the ancient Roman icon of ‘Maria Salus Populi Romani’ in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. 

This symbolic act, not performed for 400 years, serves as a powerful expression of the Pope’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Scheduled for December 8, the Pope’s visit to the Basilica marks a rare occasion as he will revive a centuries-old tradition. The Golden Rose, a significant symbol representing the papal blessing, has roots tracing back to the Middle Ages. Historically, this precious gift has been bestowed upon monasteries, shrines, sovereigns, and notable figures as a recognition of their dedication to faith and the common good.

A statement from the Basilica underscores the spiritual importance of the Salus Populi Romani icon in the life of the Catholic Church. Being the oldest Marian shrine in the West dedicated to the Mother of God, the Basilica holds a profound significance for believers. The Golden Rose, gifted by Pope Francis, serves as a tangible manifestation of his deep connection with the revered icon.

This will not be the first time the Salus Populi Romani receives the Golden Rose. In 1551, Pope Julius III presented the first Golden Rose to the icon, emphasizing his profound devotion. The Basilica, where the Pope celebrated his first Mass, has a historical connection with this cherished gift. In 1613, Pope Paul V continued this tradition by donating another Golden Rose on the occasion of the translation of the icon to the new Borghese Chapel.

However, the Basilica currently holds no trace of the Golden Roses presented by these two Popes, possibly lost during the Napoleonic invasion of the Papal States in 1797. The forthcoming gesture by Pope Francis, after four centuries, symbolizes a rekindling of the enduring bond between the Catholic Church and the city of Rome.

Archbishop Rolandas Makrickas, the Extraordinary Commissioner of the Basilica, expressed joy at the Pope’s historic gesture. He highlighted the significance of the Golden Rose as a visible expression of Pope Francis’ profound connection with the Mother of God. The Salus Populi Romani, venerated in this shrine, holds a special place in the hearts of the people of God.

“The gift of the Golden Rose is a historic gesture that visibly expresses Pope Francis’ profound bond with the Mother of God, who is venerated in this shrine under the title of Salus Populi Romani,” Archbishop Makrickas remarked. “The people of God will be strengthened even more in their spiritual and devotional bond to the Blessed Virgin Mary. To the Salus, we ask the gift of peace for the whole world.”

In addition to the Golden Rose ceremony, the Pope will partake in the traditional Act of Veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Piazza di Spagna, continuing the rich tapestry of rituals and practices that celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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