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St. Peter’s Square will turn into a flower garden this Easter

Pope Francis blesses the faithful at the end of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

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Daniel Esparza - published on 04/05/23

More than 35,000 flowers brought from the Netherlands will carpet the entrance to the Basilica.

St. Peter’s Square will be turned into a flower garden during this Holy Week. More than 35,000 flowers and plants from the Netherlands will carpet the Piazza leading to the Vatican Basilica, enclosed by Bernini’s famous colonnade.

These decorations are designed and built by the workers of the Garden and Environment Service of the Directorate of Infrastructure and Services of the Governorate of the City-State of the Vatican, under the direction of the professional floral designer Daniela Canu.

Canu is not working alone, though. Dutch florists and Slovenian biotechnology and floristry professors will work alongside her and the workers from the Governorate all throughout Good Friday to prepare and finish the decorations for Easter Sunday.

However, flowers and plants are not reserved for Easter Sunday alone. Most of these decorations have already been set in place since the very beginning of Holy Week. For Palm Sunday, olive branches were widely distributed, provided by the Associazione Nazionale Città dell’Olio ­– the national association of olive oil producers, under the direction of Dr. Antonio Balenzano.

Pope Francis presides over the celebration of the Palm Sunday 2023
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The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff was also in charge of distributing palm branches last Sunday, mainly brought from San Remo, and larger olive trees brought by the floriculture company Flora Olanda were placed near the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul that flank the steps to the Basilica by the well-known Piazza’s obelisk.

A tradition saved

Last year before Easter, it was announced that the Netherlands would no longer provide St. Peter’s with the Easter flowers.

After more than 35 years, the tradition of filling St Peter’s Square with Dutch tulips for Easter was to come to an end. Up until the pandemic in 2020, every year the famous square would be filled with flowers for the papal Urbi et Orbi blessing during Easter. The florist Paul Decker, who has been involved in the flower arrangement since 1988 and its official organizer since 2015, said they struggled to find sponsors for the project after it was canceled two years in a row due to the pandemic.

However the Dutch community in Rome came to the rescue.

The Dutch Catholic church Sts. Michael and Magnus is near the Vatican.

Father Antoine Bodar, the rector, looked for ways to keep the tradition alive, and found a ready response.

“Overwhelmed by positive reactions from growers, sponsors, and many others, and after intensive consultation with various stakeholders in the Netherlands and the Vatican, the efforts of many have shown that this year, after two years of pandemic, Dutch flowers will once again be in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.”

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