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Dutch flowers in St. Peter’s Square in Rome

This year, once again, sufficient sponsors have been brought together in order to realise the Dutch flower decorations for Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. A long-standing tradition can be continued. Piet van der Burg, artistic director of the project, has been preparing his new designs, as well as enthusing flower growers and growers’ associations for months. Various parties within the floriculture sector will donate their products and render their services – as preparations are now in full swing

Every year, one particular type of flower takes centre stage in the overall decorations. This year, it will be the Avalanche rose. Meijer Roses from Pijnacker provides 6,000 roses in various colours. Celosia Reprise will also be an important part of the flower decorations in this edition. Specialist breeder Evanthia, from Monster, and Kwekerij Bos Bloemen, from Naaldwijk, open the celosia season with their sponsorship of 1,500 flowers. The Anthurium Collective will provide 500 anthurium flowers, and Growers’ Association Zentoo contributes 500 stems of single-flowered Baltazar chrysanthemums and Serenity Purple spray chrysanthemums. Delphinium nursery N.G. Wigchert, from Noordwijkerhout, is a regular sponsor, this year with 500 flowers in three different colors. New this year is the sponsorship of Tak Global, in collaboration with Coloríginz /OZ Import, from De Kwakel – donating a wide range of cut greens.

Per the usual, a large-scale contribution is provided by producers from the flower bulb region. UNEX Inc. from Voorhout sponsors all tulip bulbs – and Roma Nova facilitates the cultivation until their actual flowering, together with a number of enthusiastic volunteers. Flower and Plant company W. Oskam & Zn. BV, also from Voorhout, is practically every year a major contributor with their daffodils Tête-à-Tête – also this year. The flower bulbs will adorn a total length of 465 meters on St. Peter’s Square. Van der Slot Transport from Noordwijkerhout will once again take care of the logistics line from the Netherlands to Rome.

The overall arrangement will result in an ensemble of a wide variety of colours, in which the bulb flowers will form the basis and the cut flowers will be processed in various colourful layers rising above them. All the products together will adorn an area of approximately 170 square meters, with dozens of flower arrangements around the main altar, on the steps leading up to the podium, as well as the central balcony of the papal loggia. All contributions combined will create a stunning decor, with which the Dutch floriculture sector demonstrates a spectrum of unique products to the world.

This year, again, plenty of media attention is given to the flower gesture from The Netherlands. For example – RTV Rijnmond and RTV Lansingerland are producing a documentary series, in which artistic director Piet van der Burg is followed throughout the entire period of final preparations during the 40 days (Lent) before Easter. The viewer is invited along during visits to bulb farmers, growers and breeders – from the selection of the particular flowers to the assembly of all the arrangements in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The four-part documentary series “Flowers for the Pope” will be broadcast weekly on RTV Lansingerland from 22 March 2023, as well as on RTV Rijnmond from 8 April 2023.

The Dutch Catholic-Protestant broadcasting corporation KRO-NCRV will broadcast the entire Easter Mass from Rome on Easter Sunday, 9 April 2023, from 10:00 AM on channel NPO 2 – followed by the traditional blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World) by the Pope, at 12:00 PM. The flower decorations, as well as an impression of the final preparations in Rome on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, will be extensively visible on screen – both “live” and recorded. Worldwide, the Easter Mass in Rome, which is broadcast “live” and shared by the Vatican media, is watched by millions of people. Vatican News offers video, radio, podcasts, images, news and audio in more than 30 languages and has seen a strong increase in the number of
visitors and pages viewed online in recent years.

 On Tuesday 4 April 2023, Van de Slot Transport will leave for Rome with a truck full of Dutch flowers and other, floral products. The first stop: the Keukenhof. At the “Lente Park” in Lisse, the entire cargo will be blessed by Monsignor Hans van den Hende, bishop of the Diocese of Rotterdam, which extends over the province of South-Holland – and to which Lisse also belongs. In Rome, artistic director Piet van der Burg, supported by a team of volunteers, will steer all the activities of the actual flower decoration into the right direction – with the desired
result of St. Peter’s Square in full bloom. On Easter Sunday, the Dutch flower display will be officially presented to Pope Francis, by the Frisian Church – the Dutch Roman Catholic parish in Rome, of which Rev. Fr. Dr. Antoine Bodar is the Rector. “The Solemnity of Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, always represents a new beginning, new hope, new life,” in the words of the Rector.

After losing a number of previous sponsors, last year it almost seemed that – after a tradition of 35 years – Dutch flowers would no longer adorn St. Peter’s Square at Easter. In January 2022, Rector Bodar and members of the council of the Frisian Church in Rome came into action, in order to guarantee the continuity of this remarkable tradition – ensuring the support of both old and new sponsors

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