Today, May 12, 2017, Pope Francis will offer the Virgin of Fatima a golden rose — as Pope Benedict XVI did in 2010 –, at the end of his prayer in the small Chapel of the Apparitions, during his pilgrimage of peace and hope.
The Pontiff alluded to the spiritual meaning of this offering in his video-message to the Portuguese on Wednesday, May 10: “I need your closeness (physical and spiritual, what is important is that it comes from the heart) to compose my bouquet of flowers, my ‘golden rose,’” he said.
The Holy Father Francis has already offered a golden rose three times to a Marian Shrine: to Our Lady of Czestochowa (Poland) in July of 2016, to Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico) in February of 2016 and to Our Lady of Cobre (Cuba) in September of 2015.
It was Pope Leo IX who created this distinction in 1059, in thanksgiving for services rendered to the Church.
However, the first rose sent to Fatima was Pope Paul VI’s on November 21, 1964, at the end of the third session of Vatican Council II: it was left by his Legate, Cardinal Fernando Cento on May 13, 1965.
But it was Benedict XVI who was the first to offer the rose personally, during his prayer in the small Chapel of the Apparitions on May 12, 2010, as a “homage of gratitude” to Our Lady of Fatima.
Other Marian Shrines have also received the homage of Popes with a golden rose, such as the Shrine of Braga: a gift of John Paul II for the centenary of the crowning of the image of Our Lady of Sameiro on December 8, 2004.
Pope John Paul II, who went to Fatima in 1982, in 1991 and in the year 2000 offered a bullet of the 1981 attack on March 25, 1984, during the ceremony of consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the presence of the image venerated in the Chapel of the Apparitions. It was later set in the crown of the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Pope Francis will also offer an image of Saint Francis of Assisi to the Chapel of the Monte Real Air Base where his plane from Rome will land this afternoon, Friday, May 12.
He will also offer a mosaic evoking the centenary of the Apparitions to the President of the Republic, Mr Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
In addition, he will offer a painting of the Last Supper to Our Lady of Mount Carmel house where he will be staying as John Paul II and Benedict XVI did, and a chalice and chasuble to the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Monsignor Antonio Augusto dos Santos Marto, and finally a chalice to the Apostolic Nunciature.