Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Mothering Sunday and the Golden Rose

Rejoice, O Jerusalem!

Most of us know that tomorrow is Latarae Sunday, the fourth week of Lent.  It takes its name from the Introit which, quoting Isaiah 66:10, says Latarae, Jerusalem (Rejoice, O Jerusalem).  This is considered a joyful day in Lent because it observes the ancient practice of “handing over” the Apostles’ Creed to the catechumens, the last step before Baptism.[1]

Mothering Sunday

But what about Mothering Sunday?  Long before Anna Jarvis held her memorial and started her campaign for Mothers Day on May 12, 1907[2], long before President Woodrow Wilson nationalized Mothers Day in 1914, there was the Catholic Church.  In the early church, there was a deep sense of gratitude to the sponsoring church or Cathedral that birthed the Christian into a life of grace.  As a result, an ancient and indulgenced tradition developed of visiting ones mother church or cathedral on Latarae Sunday where one was baptized.[3]

As a natural outgrow, the children would return home to visit and spend the day with their parents.  As part of the celebration, “mother cakes” or simnel cakes were prepared.  As you might imagine, roses were used in the Churches because the flower matched the vestments of the day.  After Mass it became tradition to take the flowers home to your mother.[4]

“One tradition presents Mothering Sunday as an honor to St. Anne , the Blessed Mother’s mother, when children would ‘go a’mothering’ and bring flowers , gifts and sweets to their mother.”[5]

Rose Sunday

In Rome, Latarae Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday.  Not because of the rose vestment but because a golden rose received a papal blessing from the Pope and was then given to some notable person or institution to acknowledge and their above and beyond the call of duty service and loyalty.[6]

So, what did you get for your mother tomorrow – on our Mother’s Day?


[1] Alston, G.C. (1910). Laetare Sunday. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 12, 2010 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08737c.htm

[2] Kendall, Norman F. (1937), Mothers Day, A History of its Founding and its Founder

[3] Klein, Rev. Peter, The Catholic Source Book (Harcourt Religion Publishers, 2000) p. 336

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., 337

[6] Rock, P.M.J. (1909). Golden Rose. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 12, 2010 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06629a.htm

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