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THE GOLDEN ROSE CUSTOM
Monday evening local time the sanctuary of the Virgen de la Caridad de Cobre in Cuba received a gift: Pope Benedict XVI. honoured it with a golden rose, a custom going back to the middle ages, popes used to hold such a golden rose during a procession on fourth Sunday of lent, called Laetare. Pope Eugene III. called this rose a sign of Christ’s passion: the gold symbolizing the resurrection and the thorns the suffering.These roses were conferred to dignitaries of the Church, and they carried a double meaning: the conferral served as both an honour and a reminder: do not forget the responsibilities that come with being a Christian. In that spirit the group of recipients widened, princes and kings received it as well as abbeys and sanctuaries. Today, only the latter are being honoured by this special grace. Benedict XVI. gave roses to Altötting and Mariazell, Fatima and Aparecida. To these he today added the sanctuary of the Virgen de la Caridad. The rose is not the only remarkable gift that can be found there. Already pope John Paul II. had given a golden crown, with which he had crowned the mother of God national patron saint of Cuba. Ernest Hemingway’s Nobel-prize for literature can also be found there, after receiving it in 1954 he dedicated it to the Virgin. It was stolen, given back and now it is kept safe. Among these famous dedications there are numerous others, for example a plaque a mother gave, asking the Virgen de la Caridad to keep her sons safe from the guerrillas. The names of her sons: Raúl and Fidel Castro. (Fr. Bernd Hagenkord, SJ reporting from Cuba)
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