“Mass of the Roses” Tradition Continues on All Souls

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

By Will Shaw, with special thanks to Fr. Tom Singer, OMI, and Don Ferguson

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois continued a tradition last weekend culminating with the annual All Souls Mass on November 2nd. Here’s a description of the occasion posted on the Shrine’s website: www.snows.org.

“The most spectacular day at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is All Souls Day. Thousands of roses decorate the sanctuary, each representing a departed loved one. It truly takes your breath away

The tradition continued to “bloom” under the direction of the late Fr. William Clark, OMI

Our All Souls Remembrance is both a solemn and joyous liturgy. Solemn because we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. And joyous knowing that they are now living in eternal life.”

Though the exact year the roses were included is unclear, the tradition began in the 1970’s when the Founder of the Shrine, Fr. Edwin Guild, OMI, offered a booklet for All Souls Day that were sent to members of the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate. Later on, supporters were offered the opportunity to have a rose placed on the altar on All Souls Day in remembrance of a loved one.

Fr. Tom Singer, OMI, a former Director of the Shrine remembers it like this: “It originally started by remembering people at Masses, then they sent a little booklet for people to list their intentions, and I think little rose stickers were involved in marking the booklet…As a further follow-up, “to show my appreciation,” Don promised donors at that point to place a rose at the Shrine…” (“Don” refers to former Oblate, Don Ferguson, who was Director of the Missionary Association in the 1970s.)

In this photo from a booklet published in 1978, we see (L-R) Shrine Co-founders, Fr. Floyd Boeckman and Fr. Edwin Guild, along with former Oblate, Don Ferguson on the altar at the Shrine’s outdoor Amphitheatre.

This year the altar of the Church of Our Lady of the Snows was decorated with over 10,000 roses and carnations, each offered by donors in remembrance of loved ones.

The following photos were taken at the Vigil Mass on October 31, celebrated by Fr. Elvis Mwamba, OMI, before a Covid-restricted congregation. Shrine Director, Fr. David Uribe, OMI, celebrated the Mass on All Souls Day.

Fr. Mwamba is engulfed in roses and carnations at the ambo