Reflecting on a Rose


The photo I am posting for this week’s WPC theme is of a yellow rose which I keep in my glass cabinet.

Among the Ancient Romans, the rose was the symbol of victory, pride and triumphant love.  But for me it is a reminder of many happy times when I travelled on pilgrimages to Lourdes in Southern France with ACROSS on the Jumbulance.

Lourdes is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to the peasant child, Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.   She was described as having a yellow rose on each foot.   I have been devoted to Our lady of Lourdes since I was a small child.  She is my role-model, my refuge and my strength.

I consider Lourdes to be Holy ground.   God’s Spirit moves there in the rushing waters of the River Gave, and in the gentle breeze that wafts down from snow-covered mountains.  The Spirit moves there in the grand Basilica bathed in sunlight, and in the peaceful Grotto silent in the moonlight. Even the souvenir shops, where the staff will literally move the doors, displays and furnishings to enable a wheelchair bound customer easier access, are filled with the Holy Spirit..   For almost 160 years the sick, dying, troubled and faithful have travelled to Lourdes in the hope of finding relief, comfort, healing and grace.

But, today I am reflecting, not on Lourdes but on Fatima in Portugal. 13th May 2017, is a very special day for anyone who is devoted to Mary, as it is 100 years since she appeared to three peasant children there.  This is such an important event that Pope Francis is attending the celebrations.  He arrived yesterday, and one of the first things he did was to place a golden/yellow rose in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions.

For readers who are interested, there are detailed accounts of the celebrations with live recordings on the Vatican website.

Having been to Lourdes and experienced the powerful atmosphere created by 50,000 pilgrims praying, singing, or standing in silence together, I can only imagine how moving it must be in Fatima this weekend, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, have gathered to pray in many different languages for unity and peace on Earth.

I am joining them online!

Palm Sunday 2014

I have celebrated Palm Sunday in many different countries, Kenya, Spain, France, Poland, Italy and UK and it is a church tradition that I love. When I was at work (teaching primary children) one of our jobs was to make the palm crosses for the local church each year. It was an eagerly awaited treat for the 10/11 year olds in their final year of primary school, to learn how to weave and fold the crosses from simple palm leaves.
I have written about other Palm Sundays before and the links are below if you would like to read them. I hope you do.
This year I am laid up in bed with a very nasty case of tonsillitis on antibiotics so I have not even seen a palm!
But I did look at the Vatican website to see the celebrations in St peter’s Square. My overriding impression is that this Pope, like Jesus is adored by the people because of his common touch and understanding of what it means to be poor in this world. But my fear is that like Jesus, he is rattling too many cages and there will be those who plot against him. I also see in his face that after only a few months in the job he is looking exhausted and strained.
Two Haiku I wrote last year sum up my fears.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Cheering throngs gather

In Messianic fervour

Fronds fall at His feet
Calling for His death

Crowds that cheered Him now decry

Innocent, He’ll die

You can see the Palm Sunday in Rome here
And my previous Palm Sunday posts are here:~