Medard and the value of marriage

He was aware of the social and cultural transformations of his time and he wanted to give marriage its right meaning. He thought marriage must put together the ideal definition and the real life facts. He was looking for new paths for the Church of married people.

He wanted to draw the attention of his contemporaries towards women, their dignity, and nobleness. For this purpose, he introduced a feast to be celebrated every year. During celebrations the local community had to choose one girl to be awarded for her merits and moral credits: the winner received a crown of roses (in French: the “Rosière”). Every year the whole local community gathered together and selected the young lady to be declared as the new laureate. The price was of significant importance for all girls, because their exemplariness of life was assessed by the members of their own community. Moreover, the bishop himself put the Rosière on the head of the winner; and the bishop represented a herald of Christ. It was a sort of symbolic objectification of love coming out from faith. When Saint Paul the apostle wrote his second list to his friend Timothy, he metaphorically described a crown of glory: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing (2 Timothy 4, 7-8).

By introducing the feast of the Rosière, Medard wanted to draw public attention towards women’s work – notably young girls – since their work was quite undervalued at those times. In such a way the community learned to appreciate their everyday efforts and engagement for the sake of the collectivity. People were now able to notice their zeal and inventiveness and this was of great encouragement for all. Women learned to better appreciate themselves and their work. The desire of receiving the crown was reflected in women’s work, in their social relationships, and mutual respect. Thanks to this celebration, girls were learning how to fight by themselves, how to develop and protect moral virtues, and how to keep their faith in Jesus even in tough situations. They were learning how to be fervent, improve their performances, and always defend justice. The inhabitants were thankful for all this and they expressed their acknowledgement by respecting and appreciating women’s role. The example of girls impressed young men and motivated them to be honest and rightful.

The final result was consolidation of the status of pre-marriage relationships and – at the end of the day – even of marriage itself, under the light of the Gospel. Medard managed to reach an important goal: young women and men were now able to define their life goals in a correct way. The bishop led local communities to evangelic values – good human values and good relationships.

Even in this way, he fulfilled God’s will through incarnation of God’s care for His beloved world. In his own peculiar way, he “put in practice” that Church felt and acted through its sacrament, as a powerful sign of the saving and joyful presence of God amongst people.

The Rosière festival can be compared to a modern beauty contest, but the subject of evaluation is only interior beauty, diligence, industriousness, inventiveness, relationship with others – and moral dimension of girls. The winner of the rose crown (symbol of moral chastity) also received a material and financial gift. In this way, the laureate girl was better prepared for marriage even from a moral point of view.