By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

When roses fell to the ground from Juan Diego’s tilma (cloak) imprinted with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in front of Bishop Juan de Zumaraga in 1531, the Blessed Mother declared herself to be the mother of all.  

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Presenting the silver rose in the Mass processional at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge on Oct. 25 are, front, holding rose, Mike Moss, grand knight of KC Council 13632, and back, Fourth Degree Knights Kevin Heltz, left, and James LaBauve.  Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 


The Knights of Columbus in the Diocese of Baton Rouge and brother knights in North America are honoring the history of Our Lady of Guadalupe by presenting with gloved hands a traveling sparkling silver rose during prayer services and Masses through the Silver Rose Program.  

In 1960, a group of young squires of the Knights of Columbus in Monterrey, Mexico, came up with the idea of giving back to Our Lady of Guadalupe for what she had done for the people of their country by running a rose to Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Monterrey. They invited squires from North America to participate. The idea then developed to run the rose from Canada through the United States to Mexico.  

Later that year, the first rose, a live one, was blessed by a bishop in Ontario. It then traveled to New York and then to Texas where it was taken across the border into Mexico. The rose ended its pilgrimage at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To better ensure future annual trips, a silver rose was made.  

Today, because of the popularity of the program, eight silver roses travel unique routes.  

The journey of the silver rose begins each year in March and ends on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every stop the silver rose makes throughout the pilgrimage is a rosary-centered occasion for knights, parishioners and community members to pray for respect for life.  

During Oct. 19‑Oct. 26, the silver rose stopped at the following host church sites in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, in order: Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs, St. Alphonsus Church in Greenwell Springs, St. Elizabeth Church in Paincourtville, St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge, St. John the Evangelist Church in Prairieville, St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge and St. Margaret Church in Albany before going to the Diocese of Lafayette.  

Sam Mistretta, a trustee of the Knights of Columbus Council 3743 of St. Aloysius and Louisiana State Family Director for the KCs, said the knights and his wife, Arline, encouraged his love of the rosary. He said that love has been cultivated by the silver rose and the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  

“The apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego touches my heart, and I often tear up upon hearing the story again,” Mistretta said. “I am particularly struck by the skepticism of the bishop (of that time) to Our Lady’s message.  

“It is just like our unbelieving world that is skeptical of the Gospel and how God can sometimes act in such a way that it transforms us in ways we could not anticipate.”  

“The story reminds me of my own conversion story and how much I value my gift of faith,” he added. “I am a lifelong Catholic, yet I was slowly drifting away from the church as a young adult. It reminds me of the joy of rediscovering and following Jesus Christ.”  

The Silver Rose Program encourages good relations between the Knights of Columbus councils throughout North America as they work together during the rose’s pilgrimage, according to Mike Moss, grand knight of Council 13632 of St. Joseph Cathedral.  

“It’s great to have councils across the countries united in prayer for respect for life,” said Moss.  

Olin Hall, grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 6326, said as the faithful, including a woman from a local Methodist Church, gathered at Immaculate Conception, many commented on how special the service was. He believes the journey of the silver rose is especially moving at a time when the 40 Days for Life movement is occurring worldwide to peacefully call for the end of abortion.  

“The Holy Spirit touched the hearts of our (attendees),” said Hall.  

He and Glenn Young, grand knight of Knights of Columbus Council 10178 of St. Margaret, found the Silver Rose Program important to the history of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Americas.  

“What we have in our country, and worldwide, a developing of the culture of death,” he said. “Our Lady has always been for the protection and dignity of life.  

“The culture of death has to be reversed and the silver rose is a way for the knights and the people to deepen their commitment to the sanctity of life.”  

He added that knights and their families who participated in the prayer service, which was hosted by Council 10178, were encouraged to sign pledge cards affirming this commitment that will be delivered to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Monterrey. 

At the gathering of knights from District 29 at St. Alphonsus Kevin Heltz Sr., the district’s chief deputy, said participants prayed for Our Lady to intercede for life at all stages as well as the different groups within society.  

“Prayer to me is a powerful tool; it aides us in our beliefs,” said Helms.  

Billy Rimes, district deputy for KC District 28 and a faithful navigator for the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, said the program delves into the rich history of the Catholic Church. Rimes, a convert to Catholicism, said he was drawn into the faith and Marian devotions through the examples of St. John Paul II and Bishop Stanley Ott.  

When he served as deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs for Governor Buddy Roemer, he sat near Bishop Ott at gatherings where there was deep division on issues, such as abortion. He was struck by the bishop’s humility as he smiled and shared what Jesus’ teachings were on the issue.  

“(Humility) emanated from him,” said Rimes.  

That’s when he decided to come on “full board” to the Catholic Church and pass on its traditions and encourage others to develop a relationship with Jesus through Mary.  

“The silver rose is a wonderful way the councils come together and honor Mother Mary and ask for her intercession,” said Rimes.