I really shouldn’t be all that surprised. After all, these have been happening to me for 20 years now. It’s one of the reasons I, as a former Protestant, have no problem believing that the saints live on and intercede for us. I have no other explanation for this type of thing.
It started with a post to the Orthodox Christianity group on Reddit asking if anybody could recognize this saint. The person asking is Roman Catholic, and it is obviously a Roman Catholic pendant (reliquary pendant, actually), and though the poster thought it might be Mary, it didn’t seem to make sense with the rose and the fact that it seems to be a second-degree relic.
I was intrigued; it’s beautiful. I now wanted to know as much as almost anybody who is depicted here.
Since it seemed like part of the problem is that the pendant is yellowed, I decided to take the image and use a photo-editing program to try to remove some of the excess yellowing and see if there was any color to revive. The result came out like you see here.
Here, it is somewhat easier to see that the the red object is not a sacred heart, but indeed, a rose. It is also more clear that the woman’s hands are not holding the rose but are folded in front of her. Besides the red rose in the center, there’s a white rose to the left of the center one, and what looks to be a half-hidden golden rose on the right.
This makes it almost indisputable that this is a “Rosa Mystica” – or Mary of the Mystical Rose – pendant. There was an Italian woman by the name of Pierina Gilli who claimed to have had a series of visions of Mary between 1947 and 1983. Although the Roman Catholic Church does not officially recognize the visions, at least not yet, ever since 1947 people have made pilgrimages to Montichiari, Italy, where many of the visions took place. Although Mary of the Mystic Rose already existed as a title for Mary, the description here – with the three roses of white, red, and yellow/gold – is from Gilli’s description. Furthermore, the feast day is July 13.
Now, it’s July 13th that seems to be the start of the coincidences. July 13 is the day St. Alexander of Munich is commemorated. I mentioned to the person who posted originally that it seemed to be a coincidence, roses and July 13. He wrote me back saying that he was very familiar with St. Alexander, as the wife of his priest, Alexandra Lloyd, has written and published two books about the White Rose.
By this time, I was stunned. What was even crazier is that in our conversation, he mentioned that he’s happy that the cause of Willi Graf to be canonized as a Roman Catholic saint has proceeded along, and that in 2017, the first step towards beatification was initiated, and that in 2020, that preparations for his beatification are being made. There was a German television special from the 1980s that had made mention that Willi Graf and Christoph Probst (Alexander Schmorell’s best friend) would be considered for sainthood, but I had searched for years for any further information than that. Because of being busy with kids and family, it’s something that I wasn’t actively hunting for for quite awhile, but even as recently as about a week ago, I posted the question online in a Catholic forum for any information, and every single avenue has come up with nothing – until now, randomly chatting with somebody because of a post about a reliquary medal.
As far as the members of the White Rose go, it’s a shame that they all won’t be glorified as saints, because I think it’s the proper thing to do. I think with Alexander Schmorell, it was special that there were still people alive who knew him who were either at the glorification, or knew it was happening. St. Alexander has a special place in my heart, and is intricately linked to my journey into and in Orthodoxy. However, Willi Graf is probably the person in the group whose personality seems to be most similar to mine. I have always had an incredible respect and admiration for him, and I’ve known for ages that if anybody is a saint of the twentieth century, Willi Graf certainly is.
Reliquary pendant photos used with permission.