Pope plans rare honour for Lourdes shrine
Pope John Paul II will confer a rare papal honour - a golden rose - on the Lourdes sanctuary during his visit there this weekend.
Catholic World News reports that the golden rose is a precious object in itself, and a special mark of honour bestowed by the Roman Pontiff.
The tradition dates back to the 11th century, when the Pope would annually offer a golden rose to the king or prince. The rose - traditionally regarded as the most fragrant and beautiful of flowers - is a spiritual symbol as well as a gift of intrinsic beauty and value.
The design of the golden rose is traditionally entrusted to a goldsmith who is recognised as a fine craftsman. When it is complete, the jewel is then blessed by the Pope.
The gold used for these designs is always of a high quality, and historians believe that over the centuries, most of the kings who received the papal rose melted it down for profit. In more recent times, the practice of giving this honour to secular sovereigns has become increasingly infrequent. The last royal personage to receive the golden rose was the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, in 1956.
However Popes have continued to give the honour to beloved Catholic shrines. Pope John Paul has previously bestowed the papal rose on the Marian sanctuaries of Czestochowa, in Poland, and Loretto, Italy.
Pope plans rare honour for Lourdes shrine (Catholic World News 11/8/04)
Pope sends blessings to Olympics (Independent Catholic News 11/8/04)
Pope's frailty complicates travel plans (Catholic World News 11/8/04)
French tighten security for Pope's Lourdes visit (Catholic World News 11/8/04)
Pope prepares for Lourdes, says sanctuary reminds Christians of need for conversion (Catholic News Agency 11/8/04)
Pope urges Russian youth to reject temptations, false ideals; says the Church needs witnesses (Catholic News Agency 11/8/04)
Pope reveals why he is going on pilgrimage to Lourdes (AsiaNews.it 11/8/04)
Pope set to follow pilgrim trail to Lourdes (CathNews 11/8/04)
Website offers prayer by proxy for pope's visit to Lourdes (Yahoo/AFP 8/8/04)
Pope's Lourdes pilgrimage to praise God, not seek healing (CathNews 2/8/04
Official Lourdes website
Pope claims to carry 'hopes of world' to Lourdes (Expatica/AFP 11/8/04)
France's Town of Miracles (Expatica/AFP 11/8/04)
12 Aug 2004