Dutch floral tribute to pope will go ahead after all this Easter

Dutch flowers on the steps of St Peters Basilica last year
Dutch flowers on the steps of St Peters Basilica

The tradition of decking out Saint Peter’s square in Dutch flower arrangements for the papal blessing of Urbi et Orbi may continue after all as a new sponsor steps in.

Ever since 1989, when pope John Paul II ended the blessing with ‘Bedankt voor de bloemen’ (thank you for the flowers), flowers from the Netherlands have embellished Saint Peter’s square at Easter.

Limburg florist Paul Deckers, who has been supplying the flowers for 35 years, had planned on a ‘spectacular display’ after missing out two years running because of the pandemic, he told broadcaster NOS.

However, his sponsors are no longer willing to pay for the papal flower arrangements. ‘It no longer fits in with their marketing strategy,’ Deckers, who received the Benemerenti medal for services to the church, said.

However, on hearing about the matter, the Friezenkerk, the church for Dutch people living in Rome, decided to take action and announced it will take over funding. It is currently talking to the parties involved.

‘The floral greeting of the pope from the Netherlands and from the Dutch church province to the world church is too special to discontinue,’ rector Antoine Bodar said. ‘The expectation is that Saint Peter’s square will be decorated with Dutch flowers again this year.’

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