Oldie Post: Pentecost at the Pantheon – rose petals falling through the oculus

Here is an oldie post.   Take a look also at what my friend John Sonnen post over at his place Orbis Catholicus here and here.


In Rome on Pentecost, in the Pantheon, now a minor basilica called S. Maria ad martyres there is a beautiful custom.

Rose petals are dropped through the circular oculus opening at the top of the dome, which is the widest is all of Rome, for all its antiquity.  The petals fall to the crowds below, reminiscent of the coming of the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame.

I posted photos taken over two different years here.  Some show the event from the inside of the Pantheon, and some show the mechanics from the outside.  My room in room is perfectly situated to see the dome of the Pantheon.

Here is how they get it done!  Notice the fire truck parked in front of the Pantheon.



The firemen, waiting on top of the dome, for the signal to drop the flower petals…

The moment arrives!

From within…

This is one of those lovely customs which we have only in Rome. 


Fr. Longenecker found this YouTube piece:



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Kimberly Depatie says:

    Fr Z,

    You will love to know this! I think the custom is now not just in Rome. St John Cantius parish in Chicago IL has just done this today, and gave reference to the custom in their sermons. It was such a beautiful and moving experience, to have the rose petals dropped from the hole in the dome of the ceiling as the servers and priests processed out!
    I definitely encourage you to contact St John Cantius for some pictures. There plenty taken by one of the brothers. It would be wonderful to make known this custom being started at a parish in the U.S.

  2. Kimberly: I am very glad for that news! Hopefully they will think to send some here.

  3. craigk says:

    Its events like this that make me hope that someday I will have the means to spend a year in Rome. Thanks Fr.Z

  4. Timothy says:

    Excellent photos, Father! I wish I could’ve been there.

  5. Tommy P. says:

    Definately makes me proud to be a fire-fighter!! If only I could play such a part in a celebration like that.

  6. James says:

    Fr. Bart at St John Cantius mentioned the rose petals at the Pantheon during his homily this morning. During the recessional hymn, rose petals were dropped through the decorative vent at the top of the dome of the Church. Wonderful!

  7. Steven says:

    Beautiful, I’ve never heard of this before. Thank you.

  8. Tim says:

    Actually, rose petals are dropped from the dome of the Church of SS Jean et Etienne aux Minimes in Brussels on Pentecost Sunday also.

  9. Jayna says:

    That’s beautiful.

    I seem to recall reading a story about them doing this at some other point in the year, except with white petals. Or is that another church in Rome?

  10. Therese says:

    Thank you, Father, for this much-needed balm.

  11. Jim says:

    Yes, a lovely custom that originated before minimalism infected the Roman liturgy.

  12. Marie says:

    How beautiful! Thank you for sharing. It was nice to see something beautiful. It brought peace to my soul.

  13. Clinton says:

    Jayna, at St. Mary Major in Rome they drop white rose petals during an annual Mass to remember the miracle surrounding
    the foundation of the basilica. On an August night about 1600 years ago the Virgin Mary appeared to the Pope in a dream,
    asking him to establish a church on a spot she would mark out with a summer snowfall. The following morning the city
    was astonished to see a patch of snow on the spot where the basilica now stands. I think St. Mary Major is the first church
    to be dedicated to Our Lady. I was at that Mass several years ago, and they began the ‘snowfall’ during the Gloria. It
    was a lovely sight, and a charming custom I’m glad to see has been kept.

  14. Thank you so much for showing this again!! I hadn’t seen it and it’s Brilliant!!

  15. JD, Esq. says:

    This does seem to be a nice tradition making use of the Pantheon’s unique dome. (Is it actually a longstanding practice?)

    I do, however, think it is kind of ironic that if some lefty parish (e.g. St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis) started doing something (anything) with rose petals during Mass (or blowing off confetti from the ceiling), most folks here would be throwing popcorn.

    Admittedly, this practice does have a “let’s all wear red on Pentecost” feel like what one finds in churches of the denomination known as Suburban Catholicism.

    I’m just sayin.

  16. Fenton says:

    Can’t happen in America…the goverment would shut it down:
    -no safety straps
    -no yellow helmets
    -no permits
    -no safety rails
    -there’s probably a Rose Petal Shower International Brotherhood that would get involved writing legislation…

  17. JL says:

    Hmmmm . . . It seems that if this were done regularly here in the US we’d call it a “70s” or “80s” custom that shouldn’t be. Seems a bit cutsie to me!

  18. irishgirl says:

    I like it-very cool!

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Fr. Z!

    How lucky you were to live in Rome!

    Yeah, Fenton-the PC crowd here in the States would not allow this!

Comments are closed.