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Since antiquity the rose was considered a symbol of mystery, for early Christians the rose is a visual expression for paradise (Catacombs of Callixtus, 3rd century) but also for martyrdom (Cyprian, Ep. 10). The Marian interpretation of this symbol dates to the 5th century (Sedulius Caelius). He is probably the first to call Mary a "rose among thorns" (Carmen paschale II, 28-31). Theophanes Graptos (Monk and metropolite of Nikaia, +845) uses the same symbolism to express Mary's purity and the fragrance of her grace (Oktoechos, Friday of the sixth week).
Frequent Marian references to rose and rosebush were made in medieval times with special reference to Isaiah 11,1 ("...a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse / and from his roots a bud shall blossom."). This typology is very old. We find it in Tertullian (Adv. Judaeos, 9) and Ambrosius (Exp. Gr. Luc. II, 24). For these authors the root is a reference to the davidic genealogy, the sprout (virga, bush) is Mary, and Christ is the flower (rose).
Medieval authors had a second source for their use of mystical rose: the verse from Sir. 24, 14 ("like a palm tree in Engedi, like a rosebush in Jericho") which makes reference to God graced fertility and growth, again a reference to the mysterious generation of Christ from the womb of Mary. It is based on these two traditions that the expression rosa mystica was coined by the author of the Litanies of Loreto, and subsequently used in hymns ("Es ist ein Ros...") and art (center of the labyrinth of Chartres).
In 1945 Pierina Gilli, a nursing sister at the hospital in Montichiari,Italy, in the Brescian Alps near Milano, was visited by Our Lady dressed all in purple with a heart displayed on her breast pierced by 3 swords. At the next appearance she had changed her dress to all white with a gold border (as at Fatima) and on her breast were three roses -- red, white and gold or yellow, which stand for prayer, sacrifice, penitence. Each time Pierina was visited Our Lady asked for the same things from the people. On December 8th Our Lady appeared to her in the Dom Cathedral on a huge white staircase lined with angels, and she asked Pierina to make a cross with her tongue on four bricks on the floor, after which Our Lady stepped off the staircase and onto the bricks. These bricks are now miraculous and they have been protected by a railing around them.
In the suburb of Montichiari, at Fontanelle where there stood an unused abandoned well, Our Lady also appeared and Pierina was asked to descend the steps backwards and kiss each step, after which Our Lady placed her bare foot on each one all the way to the bottom, where she touched the waters twice with her hands. The waters are now miraculous and one side is used to drink from while the other is used to bathe in. The well is now called the Spring of Grace and there are many pilgrims who visit the site annually. Pierina has been forbidden by the bishop to visit the sites any longer, but she still has the benefit of Our Lady's visits to her in a private chapel in the Convent specifically set aside for these visits.
At the Spring of Grace they still present statues of Our Lady, the Mystical Rose to be blessed during each month. The first 12 days are set aside for special prayers each month, and the 13th day is a day devoted to Our Lady and special prayers are said then. The statues which are blessed are sent throughout the world as Pilgrim Madonnas which have in many different spots been blessed by weeping real tears, tears of blood or tears of oil or Myrrh.
Also, when Our Lady appeared to Pierina she appeared with Francisco and Jacinta who each held up a hem of her cape on either side of her. The Miracle of the Sun also appeared at Montichiari-Fontanelle as well as Our Lady appearing over the wheatfields, after which the grain was ground into flour to make communion wafers and a measure was set aside to send to Fatima to the bishop there, per Our Lady's request.