At the hospital where she worked as a nurse aide, early on Sunday, July 13, 1947, Pierina Gilli, 35, saw a woman in a white dress with white, red, and yellow roses on her breast, who said, “I am the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of you. … I wish that July 13 be celebrated each year in honor of the Rosa Mystica.” The white rose represented the spirit of prayer, the red one represented the spirit of sacrifice, and the yellow rose the spirit of penance and conversion. There were several other apparitions, some critical of the unfaithful clergy and indifferent religious, some requesting special observances like the Hour of Grace for the World, some promising blessings through a holy spring. The title “Mystical Rose” first appeared in the Litany of Loreto, probably written in the 1500s. The new devotion given through Pierina Gilli was aimed primarily at consecrated religious — sisters, brothers, and priests. The seer had wanted to join an order, but ill-health prevented her. The three rose repairs the three swords that pierce the heart of our Lady: The first sword means: the unworthy celebration of Holy Mass and Communion unworthily received; the meaning of the second sword is: being unfaithful to, and giving up, the vocation as a priest or a religious; and the third sword means: betrayal of the Faith. Our Lady asked for “three roses” in reparation: Prayer, Sacrifice, and Penance.
Although the Catholic Church has not recognized the apparitions of Montichiari, and has sometimes discouraged their propagation, devotion to Our Lady as Rosa Mystica has spread around the world.