The Loveliest Rose in the World
by Hans Christian Andersen (Adapted)
Once there reigned a queen, in whose
found the most glorious flowers at all seasons and
from all the lands of the world. But more than all
others she loved the roses, and she had many
kinds of this flower, from the wild dog-rose with
its apple-scented green leaves to the most splendid,
large, crimson roses. They grew against the
garden walls, wound themselves around the pillars
and wind-frames, and crept through the
windows into the rooms, and all along the ceilings
in the halls. And the roses were of many colors,
and of every fragrance and form.
But care and sorrow dwelt in those halls. The
queen lay upon a sick-bed, and the doctors said
she must die.
"There is still one thing
that can save her,"
said the wise man. "Bring her the loveliest rose
in the world, the rose that is the symbol of the
purest, the brightest love. If that is held before
her eyes ere they close, she will not die."
Then old and young came from every side with
roses, the loveliest that bloomed in each garden,
but they were not of the right sort. The flower
was to be plucked from the Garden of Love. But
what rose in all that garden expressed the highest
and purest love?
And the poets sang of the loveliest rose in the
world,--of the love of maid and youth, and of
the love of dying heroes.
"But they have not named
the right flower,"
said the wise man. "They have not pointed out
the place where it blooms in its splendor. It is
not the rose that springs from the hearts of youthful
lovers, though this rose will ever be fragrant
in song. It is not the bloom that sprouts from the
blood flowing from the breast of the hero who
dies for his country, though few deaths are
sweeter than his, and no rose is redder than the
blood that flows then. Nor is it the wondrous
flower to which man devotes many a sleepless
night and much of his fresh life, the magic
flower of science."
"But I know where it blooms," said a happy
mother, who came with her pretty child to the
bedside of the dying queen. "I know where the
loveliest rose of love may be found. It springs in
the blooming cheeks of my sweet child, when,
waking from sleep, it opens its eyes and smiles
tenderly at me."
"Lovely is this rose, but there is a lovelier still,"
said the wise man.
"I have seen the loveliest, purest rose that
blooms," said a woman. "I saw it on the cheeks
of the queen. She had taken off her golden crown.
And in the long, dreary night she carried her sick
child in her arms. She wept, kissed it, and prayed
for her child."
"Holy and wonderful is the white rose of a
mother's grief," answered the wise man, "but it
is not the one we seek."
"The loveliest rose in the world I saw at the
altar of the Lord," said the good Bishop, "the
young maidens went to the Lord's Table. Roses
were blushing and pale roses shining on their fresh
cheeks. A young girl stood there. She looked
with all the love and purity of her spirit up to
heaven. That was the expression of the highest
and purest love."
"May she be blessed," said the wise man, "but
not one of you has yet named the loveliest rose
in the world."
Then there came into the room a child, the
queen's little son.
"Mother," cried the boy, "only hear what I
And the child sat by the bedside and read from
the Book of Him who suffered death upon the
cross to save men, and even those who were not
yet born. "Greater love there is not."
And a rosy glow spread over the cheeks of the
queen, and her eyes gleamed, for she saw that
from the leaves of the Book there bloomed the
loveliest rose, that sprang from the blood of
Christ shed on the cross.
"I see it!" she said, "he who beholds this, the
loveliest rose on earth, shall never die."