VATICAN CITY: Providing a beautiful backdrop for the Vatican’s first canonization ceremony post-covid on Sunday 15 May 2022 will be sumptuous displays of white Avalanche roses, grown by Dutch grower Meijer Roses. A floral tribute from the Netherlands – delivered by floral wholesaler Flora Olanda in association with Dutch TV channel KRO-NCRV, Felinifoundation and the gardeners of Vatican City – is no coincidence because among the 10 candidates who will be proclaimed saints by Pope Francis that day is the Dutch priest Titus Brandsma.
According to Vatican News the Carmelite Friar Titus Brandsma was a Dutch theologian, journalist, and author who forcefully opposed and spoke out against the anti-Jewish laws the Nazis were proclaiming in Germany before World War II.
He was arrested when Germany invaded the Netherlands and told that he would be allowed to live a quiet life in a monastery if he would announce that Catholic newspapers should publish Nazi propaganda. Titus refused and he died of hardship and starvation in the Dachau concentration camp on 26 July 1942. Pope Saint John Paul II declared Titus Blessed in 1985, saying that he “answered hate with love.”
The friar was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 3, 1985, as a martyr for the faith.
Thirty-six years later, on Nov. 25, 2021, Pope Francis recognised a miracle attributed to the friar’s intercession, paving the way to Titus Brandsma Sainthood.
Pope Francis will preside a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square on May 15 — the first since Oct. 13, 2019 after which Titus Brandsma will be officially declared a Saint.
Dutch flowers in St Peter’s Square debuted in the 1980s with Mr Nic van der Voort ‘opening the doors’ in the Vatican. In 1985, the late Pope John Paul II embarked on a visit to the Netherlands. On that occasion, the Pontiff celebrated mass in Utrecht and Nic van der Voort, a florist from the city of Leiden, made the floral arrangements.
The Pope and his entourage were so delighted with the Dutch flowers that Van der Voort and his colleagues were asked to come over to Rome to provide an appropriate floral backdrop for the beatification ceremony of Dutch priest Titus Brandsma that same year. This is how the idea was born to annually deck out St Peter’s Square with Dutch plants and flowers at Easter.