In the spirit of the Christmas season, I will reprint a very short 1914 short story by Lizzie Deas called The Christmas Rose. It tells the story of a “shepherd maiden” who wanted to follow the Magi in offering a gift to the sleeping baby Christ, but had no gift to offer. An angel took note of her pure heart and sentiments, and ensured that she would have a gift to offer the Holy Child. After reprinting the original story, which was published in a 1914 collection of stories called Good Stories for Great Holidays,I will conclude with a few notes on Deas and the season.
Reprinting The Christmas Rose 〜An old legend〜 by Lizzie Deas
When the Magi laid their rich offerings of myrrh, frankincense, and gold, by the bed of the sleeping Christ Child, legend says that a shepherd maiden stood outside the door quietly weeping. She, too, had sought the Christ Child. She, too, desired to bring him gifts. But she had nothing to offer, for she was very poor indeed. In vain she had searched the countryside over for one little flower to bring Him, but she could find neither bloom nor leaf, for the winter had been cold. And as she stood there weeping, an angel passing saw her sorrow, and stooping he brushed aside the snow at her feet. And there sprang up on the spot a cluster of beautiful winter roses,—waxen white with pink tipped petals. “Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold,” said the angel, “is offering more meet for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses.” Joyfully the shepherd maiden gathered the flowers and made her offering to the Holy Child.
Source For the Christmas Rose Illustration
The Christmas rose illustration that I used as the cover for my reprinting of The Christmas Rose was not from Good Stories for Great Holidays. I retrieved the photo from volume one William Curtis’ The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed (1790) on Project Gutenberg. I slightly cropped the original image and flipped it 90 degrees in order to use it as a cover for the story.
About Lizzie Deas
As I noted in the introduction, Lizzie Deas was a writer and poet who was active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I researched her briefly in an earlier article that I wrote about an autumnal poem by Deas called Hawkweed. There is not much information about Deas readily available, but her two most prominent works appear to be The Christmas Rose and an 1898 book called Flower Favourites, their Legends, Symbolism, and Significance.
Brief Thoughts On “The Christmas Rose”
The Christmas Rose expresses beauty in simplicity, and for that reason needs little additional commentary. The poor shepherd was as pure of heart as she was lacking in rich offerings. The angel, recognizing her sentiments, ensured that she would have a wealth of Christmas roses to present to the Holy Child.
‘Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold,’ said the angel, ‘is offering more meet for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses.’
Here, of course, the angel was making reference to the fact that the value of the Christmas roses was that they represented the shepherd’s pious sentiments.
The message of The Christmas Rose is timeless, and especially pertinent for the Christmas season – especially when struggling to choose a gift for that person who will not tell you what he or she wants.
You can also read and share my PDF reproduction of The Christmas Rose.