The rose is referred to as the flower of flowers, or as the queen of the flowers. Its beauty, its oneness with the elusive divine and the enigmatic secret inaugurates this marvel as a symbol of mysteries from the very beginning. Using for healing the water and the oil, both gained from the rose petals, dates back to ancient times. As to the Christian tradition, at the dawn of time roses had no thorns at all, the flower has started to grow its thorns since man’s fall into sin only.
As a reference, we can meet the term “flower’s flowers” even in the ancient Hungarian language, more precisely in the oldest extant Hungarian poem, the “Lamentations of Mary”. Tradition has it that St. Dominic created the first Rosary by tying together the dried and compressed rose petals, so to count the sections of the prayers. The flower of flowers is closely linked to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, one of the most favoured Hungarian saints, whose relic is also embedded into the Mission Cross, the symbol of the 52 nd International Eucharistic Congress. St. Elizabeth’s life has ever been associated with the “miracle of the roses” that often appears in depictions as her attribute. Once, when in a chilly weather Elizabeth was secretly taking bread in her apron to the poor, her husband happened to come across. “What are you hiding in your apron?” – he asked suspiciously. “Roses” – answered Elizabeth opening her apron, and indeed, roses were therein.
Remembrance for the future generation
Hundreds of roses are going to be planted in parish gardens all over the capital and the countryside these days. Following the donation ceremony,the plant donor, István Nagy, Minister of Agriculture assisted Gábor Écsy parish priest and director of the National Caritas in planting the first flowers. The Church of Hungarian Saints, Budapest (Magyar Szentek Temploma) has served as venue and a symbol, since such an event addresses and binds every and each parish community. The Minister of Agriculture believes that these rose plants are going to hold lifetime memories of the 2021 International Eucharistic Congress for the coming generations
Prize winner Hungarian rose
Gardens of parish churches are becoming the new homes of these unique roses, the creatures of a Hungarian breeding specialist, the winner of the Hungarian Heritage Award, Gergely Márk. The Transylvanian born horticulturist died in 2012, but his love for roses, likewise his expertise is well marked by the 600 registered rose varieties.
Gergely Márk named his roses after famous Hungarians, Saints, and settlements of the Kingdom of Hungary. An outstanding amongst the varieties is the ‘Saint Elizabeth of Hungary’ specifically bred in honour of the Hungarian Saint, and which was recognised with a gold medal in its category at the 2000 Rome competition, organized for the two thousand years anniversary of Christianity.
Time for retreat
In 1999, the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference established the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Award for the recognition of virtues of mercy and serving love. On November 19, on the Feast day of St. Elizabeth, in addition to the award presented, the awarded person is traditionally gifted with a rose plant, one from the Rome competition gold medallist varieties from Gergely Márk’s breeding.
The roses, donated in relation to the Catholic World Meeting symbolically bind together, alike to the Eucharist, the parish communities across the country. In wake of the pandemic, the current year World Event had to be postponed for 5 – 12 September, 2021. This extra year we have received can be a further support to strengthen the roots of the IEC rose plants, while the faithful and path seekers may find spiritual preparation and retreat for the coming joint celebration of Jesus.
Photo: Marcsi Ambrus