Roses have long been connected with Mary. The red rose, symbolic of love – the white rose, symbolic of purity.
As early as the fifth century, Mary was referred to as a “rose among thorns” or the “queen of flowers,” the rose representing Mary as Queen of Heaven.
Medieval writers saw this title based Biblically in many passages:
“I grew tall like a palm tree in Engedi, like rosebushes in Jericho; Like a fair olive tree in the field, like a plane tree beside water I grew tall.” – Sirach 24:14
“But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” – Isaiah 11:1
“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” – Song of Songs 2:1
Mary as the Rose Mystica began appearing in Medieval imagery as early as 1138, seen in the Maria Rosenberg Church in southwest Germany.
The theme of Rose Mystica was also seen in the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe:
“She assured him that Juan Bernardino had now recovered and told him to gather flowers from the summit of Tepeyac Hill, which was normally barren, especially in the cold of December. Juan Diego obeyed her instruction and he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming there. The Virgin arranged the flowers in Juan Diego’s tilma, or cloak, and when Juan Diego opened his cloak later that day before Archbishop Zumárraga, the flowers fell to the floor, revealing on the fabric the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.”
Saint John Henry Newman later wrote of Mary as the Rose Mystica:
“Mary is the most beautiful flower ever seen in the spiritual world. It is by the power of God’s grace that from this barren and desolate earth there ever sprung up at all flowers of holiness and glory; and Mary is the Queen of them all. She is the Queen of spiritual flowers; and therefore, is called the Rose, for the rose is called of all flowers the most beautiful. But, moreover, she is the Mystical or Hidden Rose, for mystical means hidden.”
Our Lady of the Rose is celebrated in Lucca, Italy on January 30th.
The Diocese of Brescia in Milan, Italy also has shrine dedicated to the Rose Mystica, Mother of the Church.
Our Lady of the Rose, pray for us! 🙏