From the England of today there also comes the story of the famous roses of Stockport.
On the first Sunday of May, 1947, five-year-old Pauline Byrne placed a crown of roses on the statue of our Lady in St Mary’s Church, Stockport, England. The incident was similar to hundreds of May crownings taking place throughout the world.
YELLOW TEA ROSES
Rev. James Turner, D. D., pastor of St Mary’s, says that 1947 was the golden jubilee of his church. When ordering the crown for the statue, he asked the florist to choose yellow tea roses, as being the colour nearest to gold.
LOVELY, BUT TERRIBLY FRAIL
“When I received the crown on Saturday evening,” Father Turner says, “it looked lovely but terribly frail. I did not think it would remain presentable till the next day.
“Towards the middle of May I was surprised to see the roses in the crown still intact and beautiful; in all previous years the roses had fallen out after a week or ten days.
“At the end of the month I always took the statue back to my bedroom, although the people always begged me to leave the statue in the sanctuary because they loved it so much. But I was always adamant and said that June is the month of the Sacred Heart and our Blessed Mother must give in to her divine Son.
“At the end of May the roses were still intact and beautiful. I said to my parishioners: ‘Well, you have always asked me to leave the statue in the sanctuary. I will do so as long as the roses remain intact.’ Half jokingly, I added, ‘If our Lady wants to stay in her place of honour, well, it’s up to her to keep the roses as they are.’
I DO BELIEVE THAT OUR BLESSED MOTHER TOOK UP THE CHALLENGE
“Really, I do believe that our Blessed Mother took up the challenge, because month succeeded month, and there was still no change in the roses.”
In October, a reporter heard about the roses, and the story went all over the world. Visitors came by the hundreds.
The following year, the same May queen deposited a second crown of 17 golden ophelias on top of the first. This crown also failed to fade. In May, 1949, seven-year-old Anne Carley placed a third crown on the statue.
“To this day,” says Father Turner, “there has not fallen a single petal from any one of the 50 roses.
HIS BELOVED DAUGHTER, HIS CHERISHED MOTHER, HIS CHASTE SPOUSE
“Personally I look upon the three crowns as being beautifully symbolic of our Blessed Mother being crowned by the Eternal Father as His Beloved Daughter, by the Eternal Son as His cherished Mother, and by the Holy Ghost as His chaste spouse. Again I look upon the 50 roses as symbolising the 50 Hail Marys of the Rosary.
THE FIFTY HAIL MARYS OF THE ROSARY
“For these reasons I did not wish to superimpose a fourth crown on our Lady of the Roses, and so I decided to place a crown on Our Lady of Lourdes. To our amazement, this crown is following the example of the crowns on Our Lady of Roses.
A woman reporter examined this fourth crown in June, 1950, when it was more than six weeks old. She rubbed the petals and the delicate ferns between her fingers. They were completely dry, completely dehydrated; but they retained their original shape and form and virtually their original colour. They looked like living roses and living ferns, but they were not. From their dryness, one would have expected them to fall to the floor, but they did not.
The reporter could not feel the first three crowns, because they were too high. From their appearance, however, she judged them to be in the same condition.
The Church has not pronounced upon the roses of Stockport, so we do not know whether they can be considered miraculous. If the Church does declare that a miracle has taken place, England, and the entire world, will have cause for great rejoicing.
– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954