THERE lived once a great queen, in whose garden were found
at all seasons the most splendid flowers, and from every land
in the world. She specially loved roses, and therefore she
possessed the most beautiful varieties of this flower, from
the wild hedge-rose, with its apple-scented leaves, to the
splendid Provence rose. They grew near the shelter of the
walls, wound themselves round columns and window-frames, crept
along passages and over the ceilings of the halls. They were
of every fragrance and color.
But care and sorrow dwelt within these halls; the queen
lay upon a sick bed, and the doctors declared that she must
die. 'There is still one thing that could save her,' said one
of the wisest among them. 'Bring her the loveliest rose in the
world; one which exhibits the purest and brightest love, and
if it is brought to her before her eyes close, she will not
Then from all parts came those who brought roses that
bloomed in every garden, but they were not the right sort. The
flower must be one from the garden of love; but which of the
roses there showed forth the highest and purest love? The
poets sang of this rose, the loveliest in the world, and each
named one which he considered worthy of that title; and
intelligence of what was required was sent far and wide to
every heart that beat with love; to every class, age, and
'No one has yet named the flower,' said the wise man. 'No
one has pointed out the spot where it blooms in all its
splendor. It is not a rose from the coffin of Romeo and
Juliet, or from the grave of Walburg, though these roses will
live in everlasting song. It is not one of the roses which
sprouted forth from the blood-stained fame of Winkelreid. The
blood which flows from the breast of a hero who dies for his
country is sacred, and his memory is sweet, and no rose can be
redder than the blood which flows from his veins. Neither is
it the magic flower of Science, to obtain which wondrous
flower a man devotes many an hour of his fresh young life in
sleepless nights, in a lonely chamber.'
'I know where it blooms,' said a happy mother, who came
with her lovely child to the bedside of the queen. 'I know
where the loveliest rose in the world is. It is seen on the
blooming cheeks of my sweet child, when it expresses the pure
and holy love of infancy; when refreshed by sleep it opens its
eyes, and smiles upon me with childlike affection.'
'This is a lovely rose,' said the wise man; 'but there is
one still more lovely.'
'Yes, one far more lovely,' said one of the women. 'I have
seen it, and a loftier and purer rose does not bloom. But it
was white, like the leaves of a blush-rose. I saw it on the
cheeks of the queen. She had taken off her golden crown, and
through the long, dreary night, she carried her sick child in
her arms. She wept over it, kissed it, and prayed for it as
only a mother can pray in that hour of her anguish.'
'Holy and wonderful in its might is the white rose of
grief, but it is not the one we seek.'
'No; the loveliest rose in the world I saw at the Lord's
table,' said the good old bishop. 'I saw it shine as if an
angel's face had appeared. A young maiden knelt at the altar,
and renewed the vows made at her baptism; and there were white
roses and red roses on the blushing cheeks of that young girl.
She looked up to heaven with all the purity and love of her
young spirit, in all the expression of the highest and purest
'May she be blessed!' said the wise man: 'but no one has
yet named the loveliest rose in the world.'
Then there came into the room a child- the queen's little
son. Tears stood in his eyes, and glistened on his cheeks; he
carried a great book and the binding was of velvet, with
silver clasps. 'Mother,' cried the little boy; 'only hear what
I have read.' And the child seated himself by the bedside, and
read from the book of Him who suffered death on the cross to
save all men, even who are yet unborn. He read, 'Greater love
hath no man than this,' and as he read a roseate hue spread
over the cheeks of the queen, and her eyes became so
enlightened and clear, that she saw from the leaves of the
book a lovely rose spring forth, a type of Him who shed His
blood on the cross.
'I see it,' she said. 'He who beholds this, the loveliest
rose on earth, shall never die.'