LISSE, the Netherlands: Tomorrow, a truck filled to the brim with fresh cut flowers, potted bulbs, trees and shrubs will be on its way to Rome. Holland Land of Flowers will once again contribute to the Easter Celebrations in Saint Peter’s Square. The Right Reverend Van den Hende, Bishop of Rotterdam, will travel to the world’s most famous spring gardens Keukenhof to bless the flowers before departure. Visitors from many nationalities will wave the floral consignment off.
True to tradition, a team of Dutch floral arrangers – this year under new guidance of master florist Piet van der Burg from Berkel and Rodenrijs – will start making preparations for their flower arrangements on the grounds of Vatican City on Maundy Thursday. The event marks the 35th year the Dutch flower industry presents Vatican City with plants and flowers to adorn Saint Peter’s Square. In 2020 and 2021, Vatican City celebrated Easter without Dutch flowers due to the pandemic.
Yellow and white, the papal colours, will be the predominant colours chosen for the floral installations which will be in place for the traditional Easter Mass on Sunday, 17 April in St. Peter’s Square. Tens of thousands of worshippers will be in the square and millions across the world will witness the celebration of mass on their TV screens, culminating in the traditional blessing to the city (Urbi) and the world (Orbi) given by Pope Francis.
In decorating Saint Peter’s Square, Piet van der Burg follows in the footsteps of Nic van der Voort who in the 1980s ‘opened 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 deck out St Peter’s Square with Dutch plants and flowers at Easter.
Huge flower arrangements will decorate the immediate vicinity of the altar.