Pope Francis is set to continue a centuries-old tradition on December 8, 2023, by bestowing a significant honor upon the Salus Populi Romani, an ancient Marian icon. This event, taking place on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, will see the Pope visiting the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to offer a Golden Rose, a symbol of papal blessing and reverence.

This tradition, dating back to the Middle Ages, is more than just a ceremonial gesture. It represents a profound spiritual connection between the Pope and the icon, emphasizing the Catholic Church’s deep veneration for the Mother of God. The Golden Rose has been historically awarded to churches, shrines, and notable individuals in recognition of their dedication to faith and service to the community.

The Salus Populi Romani holds a unique place in this tradition. Previously, two Popes, Julius III in 1551 and Paul V in 1613, had honored this revered icon with a Golden Rose. However, these earlier roses were lost during the Napoleonic invasion of the Papal States. Pope Francis’ gesture is, therefore, a renewal of this ancient devotion, symbolizing a bridge across centuries of faith and tradition.

Archbishop Rolandas Makrickas, Extraordinary Commissioner of the Basilica, remarked, “The gift of the Golden Rose is a historic gesture that visibly expresses Pope Francis’s deep connection to the Mother of God.”

In a world longing for divine peace and unity, Pope Francis’ venerable act embodies a profound expression of Catholic faith and tradition. As he readies to bestow the Golden Rose, it becomes a time for devout contemplation and spiritual upliftment, echoing the timeless connection between the Church’s enduring faith, its rich history, and the relentless quest for sanctity and communal welfare.

Salus Populi Romani, pray for us!


Photo credit: RickMorais via Wikimedia Commons
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