Currents News Staff
Easter in the Vatican is a joyful celebration like nowhere else. And since 1985, the Holy Father’s Easter Urbi et Orbi blessing has been brought to life by the vivid colors of Dutch flowers decorating St. Peter’s Square.
“A special thought of thanks for the gift of the beautiful flowers which come from the Netherlands,” said Pope Francis.
“The Pope is always saying every year, thank you a lot for the flowers. Dank u voor de bloomen. And that is a tradition in the Netherlands,” said Father Antoine Bodar, the rector of the Church of Sts. Michael and Magnus.
That was, until 2020, when the donors who supply the flowers backed out because of the pandemic and Pope Francis celebrated Easter Mass inside an empty St. Peter’s Basilica. Father Bodar is rector of the church for Dutch pilgrims traveling to Rome. And he says that Dutch people of all faiths are banding together to carry on the tradition.
“So we have said, if it is not possible any longer, we have the responsibility, and we will further on give the flowers to the Pope,” Father Bodar said.
The number of Dutch pilgrims in Rome has fallen dramatically since the start of the pandemic, and with them donations. That means there could be less flowers surrounding Pope Francis on Easter, but Father Bodar says the important thing is having a Dutch presence at one of the Church’s most important celebrations.
“We are hoping that further on, after COVID, we can give more flowers, but we will give flowers,” Father Bodar said.
Catholics everywhere are hoping this will be the year Pope Francis will once again deliver his Easter blessing to the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Netherlands is on a mission to make sure he does so with Dutch flowers alongside him.