The scent of roses when no flowers are present is thought to be a sign that God’s presence is with us or a blessing from God is imminent. This same occurrence with the smell of roses has often been associated with miracles and encounters with Marian apparitions.
Mary is sometimes referred to as “Our Lady of the Roses,” perhaps because the name Rosary means “a garland of roses” or perhaps she is pictured surrounded by these beautiful flowers. St. Juan Diego in the 1530s was asked by Mary to gather roses to prove her presence to the bishop, since it was in the middle of winter when no roses would be in bloom. He climbed a hilltop and found them blooming abundantly and when opening his coat to show the roses to the bishop, the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe was present.
The “odor of sanctity” is a fragrance that comes from a person or their clothing or their presence before or after death. Many people have experienced this after a particular moment in devout prayer. Sometimes it has occurred after visiting shrines of our Lady of Fatima or Our Lady of Lourdes. I talked to a friend this week and he and his wife, a recent convert, were visiting the Basilica in Fatima, and she experienced a strong scent of roses at the end of Mass.
Two weeks before the death of my mother we had a discussion about a similar experience she had. She said, “I need to share with you something that happened to me today. I was sitting in my chair saying my rosary when I looked up and the walls were covered in roses. This means I am going to be leaving soon. Mary has always been with me and I will likely be with her soon.”
My sister Connie came by later to check in on her and said to her, “Wow, did someone send you flowers, Mom? It smells beautiful in here.”
She answered Connie with a knowing smile, “Yes, someone sent me flowers.” The scent of the roses was still in the air. My mother died two weeks later and I’m convinced Mary was there to greet her.
St. Theresa de Lislieux, known as “The Little Flower,” produced a strong scent of roses when she died. It was present for days after she passed away.
St. Paul mentions sanctity in Christ with the description of a fragrant aroma:
“But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the odor of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2 Corinthians, 2:14)
The overall interpretation of this clairalience (clear smelling) spiritual impression through physical sense of smell is that you are in the presence of holiness and you are loved!
Is it the presence of God and the Holy Spirit, is it simply Mary acting in the capacity of a loving mother with a message of this love to all her children wanting to remind us how much she cares, or is it our guardian angel wanting to communicate that we are loved.? I believe that it is all of these sources wanting us to know about our Heavenly kingdom that awaits us when we believe in God and the power of His love.
As Catholics we are blessed with so many stories of daily miracles from Saints, from miracle cures, sometimes just a feeling that we are surrounded by God’s love, and sometimes it comes in a sweet scent of roses letting us know that we are loved. God loves us of that I’m sure. He has so many ways to send us messages of His love. Our Mother Mary is certainly a great messenger sent to deliver, through the scent of roses, His never-ending capacity to love us all!
Copyright 2018 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh