Naples | Escorted by a Knights of Columbus Color Corps, a white-gloved man, wearing a biker vest, solemnly lead the opening procession at Mass. In those hands was a small object, a silver rose.
When the procession reached the front of the church, the object was then handed to a priest who placed the rose to be displayed on a table to the right front of the altar.
The rose was on display during Masses June 25, at St. Agnes Parish in Naples and then at Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria a few days later before the object continued its sacred journey.
Each year, from early March through mid-December, Silver Roses are stewarded by Knights of Columbus councils along routes in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Every stop the Silver Rose makes throughout the pilgrimage is a rosary-centered occasion for Knights, parishioners and community members to pray for respect for life, for the spiritual renewal of each nation, and for the advancement of the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Knight George Lopez, who is also the Diocese of Venice Knight on Bikes Coordinator, was the custodian of the rose while it was in the Diocese. “We were very fortunate to have it make a visit here because many of the stops are planned well in advance,” Lopez explained. “It was an extraordinary honor to be the custodian of the Silver Rose. The response at the two sites was incredibly positive, so we are planning a longer stay in 2020.”
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass and was present while the Silver Rose was welcomed at St. Agnes on the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). “I wanted to acknowledge, with my presence, to honor the idea behind the Silver Rose, and to honor the Knights of Columbus for bringing it to the Diocese and for what it is they do day in and day out.”
Throughout the day at St. Agnes, and again at Ave Maria Parish, the faithful were able to view the rose and take pictures. They also prayed the rosary and took time to reflect.
George Scottsman said he knew very little about the Silver Rose before attending Mass at St. Agnes. “There was an announcement in the bulletin and it was intriguing to know that this simple object travels from parish to parish on a special journey. Incredible to be able to be here to see this.”
Lopez spent much of his time sharing the history of the Silver Rose, which dates to 1960. It was in Mexico where Columbian Squires, a youth organization of the Knights, wanted to give something back to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. It was decided that a rose would travel from Knights Council to Knights Council on a path from Canada to the Old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Monterrey, Mexico.
Our Lady of Guadalupe has a long history in Mexico dating to 1531 when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to an Indian peasant, St. Juan Diego, near the present-day Mexico City. To help convince the local Ordinary of the message of Our Lady, St. Juan Diego was able to present his garments which contained live roses in winter and an emblazoned image of Our Lady on the fabric, in what is known as the “Miracle of the Roses.” The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Dec. 12, the day each of the Silver Roses concludes its nine-month journey. While at least three of the eight traveling Silver Roses will arrive at the Old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the others will conclude their journey at key locations in the United States.
The first run included a living rose and was blessed by a bishop in London, Ontario, Canada. It was then flown to New York City and then to Dallas with great fanfare. From there it was shepherded to Laredo, Texas, and then passed to the Columbian Squires on the International Bridge there. The run continued through to the Monterrey Basilica, arriving on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, 1960.
Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said in a description of the outreach, that the Silver Rose Program of the Knights of Columbus is intended to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe and express the unity of the Knights, while they also reaffirm their dedication to the sanctity of human life.
“It is the Blessed Mother that we turn to in prayer as we work to end the Culture of Death that grips our society,” Anderson added. “As we think in the terms of ‘One Life, One Rose,’ it is most appropriate that we turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe who made known Her will through St. Juan Diego and the miracle of the roses.”