A spiritual tradition that began in 1932 under the guidance of Msgr. Agnello Angelini, pastor 1932-87 of the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Nesquehoning, is set to drop flowers from the sky during its celebration Sunday, Oct. 1.
In commemoration of the feast of Therese, “The Little Flower,” the Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux, Nesquehoning will honor the saint known for doing “ordinary things with extraordinary love” with its annual Shower of the Roses.
The celebration will begin at 1 p.m. with Mass celebrated by Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert, who will crown the Rose Queen during the Eucharistic Celebration.
Procession of the Rose Queen and her court will take place at 3 p.m., with recitation of the rosary. Novena and Benediction will be at 4 p.m., with presentation of Rose Queen “The Little Flower” dressed in a Carmelite habit.
At 5 p.m. the celebration will culminate with “Letting fall from heaven a shower of roses,” with a helicopter showering the crowd with hundreds of roses.
Sheree Strauss, director of the shrine, said the celebration began as a regional Italian festival and continues to be a popular devotion as hundreds of faithful from the tristate area are expected to visit the shrine and grotto.
“It is a beautiful celebration of love and devotion to ‘The Little Flower.’ To partake and witness the deep spiritual commitment of the pilgrims is truly emotionally moving and spiritually fulfilling. St. Therese is known for finding God’s love in our everyday interactions, and that love fills the air on her feast day,” said Strauss.
With weather permitting, Strauss said seeing the sky fill up with flowers and faithful hoping to catch a rose is also particularly moving.
“It is seen as a special blessing for those lucky enough to catch one,” she said.
For many years, Strauss said the Rose Queen would board the helicopter to help release the roses, and a flyover of Navy jet planes was part of one celebration.
“Thousands of people would run to catch a rose falling from the sky. People would even climb on the rooftops of homes to acquire a blessed rose,” she said.
After the closure of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 2008, then Bishop of Allentown John Barres bolstered the devotion to St. Therese in 2010, by declaring the former church the Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux. The shrine, located at 15 E. Garibaldi Ave., Nesquehoning, is part of the parish of St. Joseph, Summit Hill.
The 2017 Rose Queen is Courtney Kovatch, who will be accompanied by her court of high school Rose Princesses: Carly Bachert, Maria Cerimele and Gabriella Rose Greek.
The court will also include elementary girls on the “Little Flower” Rose Court: Isabella D’Ancona, Amelia Rose Degler, Caitlyn Kovatch, Giovanna Larry, Reagan LeClair, Marie Petschauer, Esme Petschauer and Cara Rehnert.
The celebration will also offer ethnic food and a spaghetti dinner from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information: 570-645-2664,www.shrineofsaintthereese.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook “Shrine of Saint Therese.”