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Virgin of Antipolo receives 'Golden Rose' from Pope Francis, the 'highest honor' given personally by a Supreme Pontiff

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Feb 27, 2024 4:58 pm

The Golden Rose, bestowed as "the highest honor" by Pope Francis, himself, was presented to the image of the Miraculous Virgin of Antipolo at the International Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo City during the Misa de Gracia or Thanksgiving Mass on Monday, Feb. 26th.

Presided over by His Excellency, Most Reverend Salvatore "Rino" Fisichella, D.D., the Eucharistic celebration showcased Pope Francis's gift from Rome to the International Shrine, which was presented at the foot of the image of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje.

Nina Ynares, the provincial governor of the Province of Rizal, conveyed in a Facebook post that the Golden Rose represents the "highest recognition of a pope to a Marian Image or Shrine," symbolizing hope and bearing witness to the unwavering faith of every Rizalenyo.

"We are truly blessed to be part of this extraordinary celebration, dahil ngayon po, kinikilala na ng buong mundo ang history, faith, at culture nating mga taga-Rizal. We are indeed making history as we give thanks and celebrate in unity," she wrote.

The Golden Rose is a gold ornament blessed annually by popes in the Catholic Church. On rare occasions, it is given as a sign of respect or love. Churches, sanctuaries, rulers, military personnel, and governments may receive this gift.

According to the cathedral, the thanksgiving mass marks the "first time that a Marian shrine in the Philippines and on the whole continent of Asia" has been given this gift and honor.

Earlier this year, the Antipolo Cathedral, the popular pilgrimage site of the devotees of the Our Lady of Antipolo, became an official international shrine, making it the first national shrine in Southeast Asia, the third in Asia, and the 11th international shrine in the world.

In June 2022, the Vatican approved Antipolo Cathedral's petition to be an international shrine.

In its recommendation letter, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines described the cathedral as the country's "prime pilgrim Church because of the countless devotees and pilgrims who have come and experienced the special presence of the Blessed Mother in their life through the pastoral care of pilgrims in this shrine."

"By being a center of the Catholic faith in the region, this would be an honor that will be claimed as a beacon for Filipinos across the world, and those inspired by the cause of peace and good voyage attest their fervor in the faith to the love of Christ and the maternal care of the Blessed Mother," the Diocese of Antipolo said in a statement.