A gold ornament set with gems which is blessed by the pope on the fourth Sunday of Lent, known as Laetare or Rose Sunday. In token of special service or loyalty to the Holy See it has been conferred on churches, cities, sovereigns, and other distinguished persons, but of recent years it has been reserved to Catholic queens, a sword being regarded as a more suitable gift for emperors, kings, and princes. It is not known when the custom originated, but it antedates 1050, and superseded the practise of bestowing the Golden Keys of Saint Peter’s Confessional upon illustrious Catholic rulers. The delivery of the ornament is now entrusted to the “Bearer of the Golden Rose,” an office instituted in 1895. The ornament is formed of a central flower and a number of smaller roses, skilfully wrought by papal artisans. In the heart of the principal rose is a small covered cup in which musk and balsam are placed at the annual solemn blessing, the same rose being used at this ceremony until given away. The Golden Rose was last bestowed upon Elizabeth, Queen of the Belgians, in honor of her silver wedding anniversary in 1925. Among the noted recipients of the ornament have been Charles VII of France, James III of Scotland, Isabella I of Spain, Henry VIII of England (prior to 1525), Mary Queen of Scots “who like a most fair rose among thorns diffuses far and wide the sweet odor of her faith and good works”, and Eugenie, ex-Empress of the French. Charles IX of France was the only recipient of it who was unworthy at the time it was conferred; reports which reached Rome after the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day falsely laid the slaughter to the rivalry of the Guise and Coligny families, stating that it had taken place without the sanction of the king, who in reality had given his consent to it. It was due to the pope’s misunderstanding of the affair that Charles received this mark of papal favor. “” is the title of a remarkable novel by Mrs Hugh Fraser.
- “Golden Rose”. . CatholicSaints.Info. 22 January 2016. Web. 4 December 2016. <>