The Biblical Rose of Sharon, mentioned in Canticles 2:1
The Litany of Loretto invokes our Immaculate and Blessed Virgin Mary as the Rosa Mystica or “Mystical Rose.” What is meant by this phrase?
In the inspired Canticle of Canticles, the Holy Ghost refers to His bride as the “enclosed garden” of God. This image describes Mary’s virginity (“enclosed”) and that she herself is the new garden of Eden – the place where God Himself dwells.
The Canticle also says of her, “I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the valleys” (Cant. 2:1). The biblical “rose of sharon” is cultivated Asian shrub or small tree (Hibiscus syriacus) having showy bell-shaped rose, purple, or white flowers.
Saint Bernard of Clarivaux states that purple signifies humility and white signifies purity.
The most beautiful meditation on Our Lady as Rosa Mystica is found in the writings of Saint Brigid. “The rose,” Mary told Saint Brigid, “gives a fragrant odor; it is beautiful to the sight, and tender to the touch, and yet it grows among thorns, inimical to the beauty and tenderness. So may also those who are mild, patient, beautiful in virtue, be put to a test among adversaries. And as the thorn, on the other hand, guards, so do wicked surroundings protect the just against sin by demonstrating to them the destructiveness of sin.”
Saint Brigid says: “The Virgin may suitably be called a blooming rose. Just as the gentle rose is placed among thorns, So this gentle Virgin was surrounded by sorrow.”
Holy Mary, Mystical Rose, pray for us.
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