Knights’ initiative raises awareness on sanctity of life
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 put on public display during four different prayer services at Parishes in the Diocese of Venice, first on Aug. 17, 2022, at Ave Maria in Ave Maria, next Aug. 18 at St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, then Aug. 21 at Incarnation in Sarasota, and lastly Aug. 22 at St. Catherine in Sebring, before continuing its sacred journey beyond the Diocese.
During 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, and take photos. Still others remained behind to continue to pray. “Beautiful,” said Theresa Carney following the Incarnation prayer service. “The story, the symbolism and journey are truly remarkable.”
The visit to St. Catherine coincided with the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which Father Jose Gonzalez, Pastor of St. Catherine, said brought an enhanced meaning for the visit of the Silver Rose.
Father Gonzalez noted that while we do not know what plan God has for us in our lives, the Gospel reading, with the Angel Gabriel appearing before Mary and her resounding ‘Yes!’ to serve the Lord, should inspire us to open our hearts and hear the words of God as they are a calling for us to act.
Father thanked the Knights, who represented several different area Parishes, for bringing everyone together to pray for the protection of human life from conception to natural death. “God has chosen us and invited us to bring the Gospel of Life to our families and our communities.”
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.
More than two dozen Popes have officially honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. St. John Paul II visited her Sanctuary four times: on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as Pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999 and 2002. During the 1999 visit, the Holy Father entrusted the cause of life to Our Lady’s loving protection and placed under her motherly care the innocent lives of children, especially those who are in danger of not being born.
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 late July, stops were made in the Diocese of St. Augustine, the Diocese of Orlando, the Diocese of Palm Beach, and the Archdiocese of Miami. From the Diocese of Venice, the Silver Rose will visit the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, before moving on to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and finally Mexico.