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Easter 2017: There Is a Bit of Holland in St. Peter’s Square

It Will Be Transformed into a Flowering Garden for the Celebration of the Solemnity of Easter

The Solemnity of Easter on Sunday, April 16, will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, which will be transformed into a flowering garden, symbol of the joy over Christ’s Resurrection. More than 35,000 plants and flowers have arrived from Holland for the occasion. In addition to highlighting the sacredness of the liturgy, the floral decoration is rich in symbolic references to Pope Francis’ Easter Message, stated a press release of the Holy See Press Office specifying, among other things, that “the traditional Dutch floral homage to the Pontiff on the occasion of Holy Easter, has reached its 31st edition. The floral arrangement is the work of a team of Dutch florists, coordinated by Paul Deckers, who is taking part for the 30th time.

“Every year it is a moment of pure magic! — explained Deckers. The truck from Holland arrives on the Thursday before Easter. The trees, flowers and floral compositions already prepared in Holland are unloaded immediately, and the work begins to transform the immense Square into a floral canvas.” The position of the trees and floral arrangements is studied so as not to disturb the unfolding of the Pontifical Mass and to facilitate the television shots of the Mass, followed by millions of television viewers throughout the world.

The initial preparations already began last autumn with the selection of flowers and the most beautiful plants. The position of the flowering bulbs in front of the Basilica and at the foot of the stairs creates an image similar to the famous flowering fields in the Low Counties: long lines of tulips, hyacinths and narcissus of various colors. This year the various architectural heights of the Square will be accentuated to highlight as much as possible the religious rite. The palette of colors is obtained primarily with thousands of flowering bulbs — yellow, white, red and orange tulips, blue and white hyacinth and abundant brush strokes of yellow narcissus. The flowers for the Easter of the Lord’s Resurrection represents a unique event to highlight the value of plants and flowers in different moments of life. This year is a special Easter because it is being celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox on the same day.

Important criteria in the selection of flowers is their symbolic value. As usual, yellow and white prevail, the color of Vatican City. There is an abundance of lilies, emblem of purity and that, in Christian iconography, represents the Virgin Mary. An absolute novelty this year is the Roseliy, the first lily to flower without pistils. The absence of pistils means that it does not produce pollen and does not stain fabrics, so that this flower can be used in all types of compositions.

Much used also is the grandiflora Avalanche, symbol of the Marian month dedicated to Our Lady. Thousands of white specimens, pale rose and salmon rose can be admired in great spheres, which symbolize the union of peoples through flowers. After all, the language of flowers is universal.

In front of the columns there is a small green oasis of birches, 6 meters high, and of flowering limes raised to the column.  The lime is considered the plant of conjugal love, the birch the tree of life and of rebirth.

Outstanding on the sides of the entrance to the Basilica are four great floral compositions with light blue Delphinium that, in the language of flowers, express sincere love towards on high, light and a large heart. The Delphinium is next to the white Avalanche rose, which symbolize modesty and humility. These roses are also used in the decoration of the altar and the balcony, from where the Holy Father imparts the Urbi et Orbi Blessing.

For the Easter decoration of St. Peter’s Square thousands of Avalanche roses, blue Delphinium, lilies, forsythia and plum trees are used, highlighted by branches of red and yellow cornelian cherry trees. The stairs that take the faithful’s gaze to the altar is arranged with ample semi-circle borders of yellow narcissus. When the Holy Father passes towards the altar it is as if he were walking in a typical Dutch flowering field. In the gardens, great floral works of Roselily, new double flowering lilies of various colors, from white to pale rose, to intense rose capture the attention.

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