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golden rose

noun, Roman Catholic Church
1.
a gold, bejeweled ornament in the form of a rose or spray of roses, blessed and presented by the pope in recognition of service to the Holy See.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Encyclopedia Article for golden rose

ornament of wrought gold set with gems, generally sapphires, that is blessed by the pope on the fourth Sunday in Lent (Laetare Sunday) and sent, as one of the highest honours he can confer, to some distinguished individual, ecclesiastical body, or religious community or, failing a worthy recipient, kept in the Vatican. Many of these historical examples of the goldsmith's art, being of great value, have been melted down. The origin of the custom is obscure, the first reliable accounts dating from the 11th century. Of more symbolic than material significance, the rose was usually sent, like the papal cap and sword, for political as well as religious reasons, together with an explanatory letter

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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