Human Flower Project

Blooms for the Pope in Angola

Floral gifts for honored guests need not always be corsages or bouquets.


A young admirer holds out a floral welcome to the Pope

Luanda, Angola, March 21, 2009.

Photo: Reuters

Greeting foreign dignitaries with flowers is a custom in many parts of the world, both honorific and disarming. A floral welcome strikes a magic balance by confronting power with simple delicacy.

With local variations, the gesture takes on cultural significance, depth, as with these floral greetings for Pope Benedict XVI in Angola.

A bold, smiling girl stuck a dramatic red blossom (proteas?) under the pontiff’s nose last Saturday, March 21,  before the Pope addressed a youth gathering in Luanda. Can you imagine this in the Netherlands or Polynesia?


As Pope Gregory arrives at a stadium filled with young Angolans, he’s met with a human-flower

Photo: via L’Osservatore Romano

Even more stunning was this performance-arrangement: papal greeters swaddled in green and purple fabric lay down in the shape of a stem and blossom. This human flower project also took place in Luanda, the Angolan capital, March 21. Not every society delivers a bouquet with a curtsey.

Throngs of people, an estimated one million, turned out for the Pope’s youth rally and Mass at a city stadium. Two youths died in the crush of spectators.

Here is an excerpt from the Pope’s homily, delivered in Portuguese earlier that morning at the Church of São Paulo:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray”; the one “went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Lk 18: 10, 14). The latter had paraded all his merits before God, virtually making God his debtor. Deep down, he felt no need for God, even though he thanked him for letting him become so perfect, “not like this tax collector.”

And yet it was the tax collector who went down to his house justified. Conscious of his sins, and so not even lifting his head although in his trust he is completely turned towards Heaven he awaits everything from the Lord:  “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk 18: 13). He knocks on the door of mercy, which then opens and justifies him, for, as Jesus concludes:  “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18: 14).

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/27 at 05:31 PM


The humans as flower is fantastic, though unfortunate about the youth who died during the rally.

Posted by Georgia on 03/28 at 11:07 AM
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