The golden rose is the symbol of papal recognition of some outstanding service to the Church. Its symbolism is linked with the mid–Lent (or Laetare Jerusalem ) Sunday, on which the pope traditionally blessed a golden rose in the church of Sta Croce in Gerusalemme and bore it in procession to the lateran palace. In modern times the ceremony takes place within the Vatican, the blessing in the Hall of Vestments and the solemn Mass in the papal chapel. At first (from the late 11th century) the rose was a single flower of red–tinted gold, but it was later embellished with gems, and at least from the mid–15th century it comprised a branch of gold with leaves and roses and a principal rose at the top. The meaning of the rose was explained by Pope alexander iii to King louis vii in Ex antiqua (L. Jaffé, Regista pontificum romanrun ad condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198, ed. S. Löwenfeld, 882–1198; 10826) in 1163: the flower
is the symbol of Christ the King, the gold of His kingship, the red of His passion, its fragrance prefiguring His Resurrection and glory. The practice grew of dispatching this rose to a Catholic king or ruler, basilica or sanctuary, republic or city, indeed to any place or person, and most commonly in modern times to Catholic queens, in recognition of some outstanding service to the Church. The origin of the tradition is uncertain; the earliest sure reference dates from 1049, when Pope leo ix described it as an ancient custom; and the first recorded example dates from 1096, when urban ii dispatched a rose to Fulk of Anjou. The more recent recipients have included the American M. G. caldwell, who gave $300,000 to the Catholic University of America in 1887, the Queen of the Belgians in 1925, the Queen of Italy in 1937, and the shrine of Our Lady of fatima in 1964.
Bibliography: a. shield, "The Golden Rose," Month 95 (1900) 294–304. e. mÜntz, "Les Roses d'or pontificales," Revue de l'art chrétien 44 (1901) 1–11. j. kreps, "La Rose d'or," Questions liturgiques et paroissiales (Louvain 1921–) 11 (1926) 71–104; 149–178. f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 570. j. a. jungmann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (Freiburg 1957–65) 4:1041. e. barnikol, Die Religiion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 3, 7 v. (Tübingen 1957–65) 5:1183.