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 CNS Story:

ROSE Mar-21-2006 (710 words) With photo. xxxn

Oregon company develops hybrid tea rose in honor of late pope

By Ed Langlois
Catholic News Service

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- There have been medals, mugs, puzzles and even a commemorative umbrella, but an Oregon company has created arguably the most elegant memorial for the late Pope John Paul II.

Medford-based Jackson & Perkins unveiled a hybrid tea rose in honor of the pope, who died a year ago April 2. Company representatives worked with Vatican officials over a period of several months to designate the rose.

In addition, the company will put 10 percent of sales at the disposal of the Vatican; church officials have designated the poor people in sub-Saharan Africa as the recipients.

The Vatican chose the pure white rose, which its creators are calling luminous. The color is reminiscent of the late pope's white garb, and the description brings to mind the five luminous mysteries the pontiff added to the rosary in 2002.

"Pope John Paul, a man of peace and compassion, was one of the most revered leaders of our time," said Bill Williams, president of Jackson & Perkins, a nationally recognized gardening and outdoor decorating company.

Ten of the rose bushes have already been planted in the Vatican gardens overlooking St. Peter's Basilica.

"It's going to be popular with customers and perpetuate the good works and the sense of noble Christianity that we found in the heart of our late Holy Father," said Bill Ihle, the company's senior vice president of corporate relations and a member of Shepherd of the Valley Parish in Central Point. He helped develop the idea of honoring the pope.

Jackson & Perkins, a subsidiary of catalog giant Harry & David, has honored other prominent figures. Roses have been named for Princess Diana, President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Habitat for Humanity, the Rev. Billy Graham and President John F. Kennedy.

In all cases, proceeds went to causes associated with the figure. What Ihle called "cause roses" are one way he gets to live out his faith, he said.

Proceeds from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Rose, for example, fund college scholarships for low-income Latinos. The company's Habitat for Humanity Rose in one year funded 33 new homes for residents of Papua, New Guinea. The 1997 Princess Diana Rose raised $750,000 to eradicate land mines and make prostheses for people injured by mines.

In 2004 Ihle went to Italy with his pastor, Augustinian Father Jim Clifford, and Portland Archbishop John G. Vlazny. The men planted an Our Lady of Guadalupe Rose in the pope's personal garden at Castel Gandolfo. The pope, too ill to attend the ceremony, sent good wishes via U.S. Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, currently president of the commission that governs Vatican City State.

The cardinal suggested a rose honoring the Vatican. But Ihle made the point that roses named after people have "much more emotional appeal." Archbishop Vlazny and Father Clifford suggested Pope John Paul II.

After the pope died, Ihle met twice with Cardinal Szoka. Given choices between pure white, off-white and coral, the cardinal immediately liked the first one.

Jackson & Perkins, founded in 1872, has long had the reputation as the world's top hybridizer of garden roses. The company is one of only a few to have a union contract with the United Farm Workers of America. Bishop John T. Steinbock of Fresno, Calif., recently made a trip to the company's California rose fields to bless workers and bushes.

The 2006 papal rose is available through the company's March catalog or via its Web site, www.jacksonandperkins.com. The package includes the bare root of the rose bush, an engraved garden marker, and a silk-lined portfolio with a numbered certificate of authenticity and one of the late pope's popular homilies. There are 2,500 packages available at a cost of $150 each, plus shipping and handling.

"This is a remembrance that people will be able to have for years and years to come of a man who moved them, moved their faith and moved the world to a better place," said Ihle.

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Editor's Note: For $110, customers can preorder an unnumbered papal rose package to be delivered in 2007. Just the bare root of the rose for next year costs $24.95. Shipping and handling is additional for all orders.


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