Escorted by a member of the Knights of Columbus Knights on Bikes, a white-gloved man, wearing a biker vest, solemnly lead the opening procession at a prayer service. In his hands was a small object, a silver rose.
When the procession reached the front of the church, the rose was then displayed on a table in front of the altar.
Each year, since 1960, from early March through mid-December, eight 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.
The Silver Rose Program demonstrates the unity between Knights of Columbus in Canada, the United States and Mexico, and reaffirms their dedication to the sanctity of human life.
The Silver Rose was transferred from the Diocese of Orlando Aug. 6, 2023, when members of the Knights on Bikes met with their counterparts in Davenport. It was put on public display at six Parishes in the Diocese of Venice. The first stop was Aug. 7, at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, and was followed by St. Catherine Parish in Sebring on Aug. 8, St. Katharine Drexel Parish and St. Andrew Parish, both in Cape Coral and both on Aug. 9, Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria on Aug. 10, and St. Ann Parish in Naples on Aug. 11. The Silver Rose was then transferred by members of the Knights on Bikes to their counterparts in the Archdiocese of Miami at exit 50 on Interstate 75, which is the border of Collier and Broward counties and the two Dioceses.
While at Ave Maria, the Silver Rose was on display in the church on a table in front of a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, for 24 hours. During the 24 hours, the rosary was prayed 75 times (3 rosaries per hour), each led by Ave Maria Grand Knight John Lanham, who stayed with the Silver Rose from 8 a.m. Aug. 10, to 6 a.m. Aug. 11.
During each of the prayer services, the faithful joined in praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary (the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, and the Coronation of Mary as Queen), and an Act of Consecration, as well as hearing select readings, including the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Gospel of Luke (1:26-38).
Afterward, many came forward to have a closer look at the Silver Rose, which is only 6-inches tall. Still others remained behind to continue to pray.
Before each prayer service, an escorting Knight shared 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 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 six of the eight travelling Silver Roses will arrive at the Old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the others will conclude their journey at key locations in the U.S. which honor Our Lady. One of these will complete its journey at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., while the other will end at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary in Griswold, Connecticut.
The Silver Rose, which visited the Diocese of Venice previously, made stops in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. In Florida since July 23, the tour will continue throughout the state until Sept. 2, before moving on to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and finally Mexico.
The Knights of Columbus expansive pro-life initiative includes taking part in prayer vigils at abortion facilities, supporting the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., and placing more than 1,000 ultrasounds in pregnancy resource centers throughout the world, including many within the Diocese of Venice.