Rose Types

The Apothecary's Rose 

One of the most popular roses of ancient times is the Apothecary's rose or the Rosa gallica officinalis. It was the most sought after rose of the time and during the thirteenth century this rose was painted most often of all the other flowers. The flower itself has stood (and continues to stand) for various symbols of Christianity. The red color of the flower represents the blood of the Christian martyrs while the dried and rolled petals of the flower are used as beads for the rosary thread. In fact it is from the use of rose petals as beads that the name "rosary" originated. 

Apothecary's Rose - Origins

The flower is believed to have originated form Persia but there is no definite proof to substantiate this statement. The rose first came in knowledge during the 7th century and no records remain of its origin or descendancy. A Persian legend goes that at first there were no red roses and only white roses could be found in the world. Then, a nightingale fell in love with one such white rose and was so enamored by the beauty of the bloom that it clasped the flower very tightly and suddenly one of the thorns of the plant pierced its heart. The blood from the nightingale's heart bled on the white flower and thus, the rose turned red. It is said that it is the love of the nightingale which makes the red rose seem so beautiful. Due to this reason the red rose is also called "The Red Damask". 

Apothecary's RoseThe rose then found its way to Europe through the Crusades. It is said that in the thirteenth century the flower was introduced to the continent of Europe by knights returning from the second Crusades. It was gifted to King Louis VII, and was ultimately handed down to King Henry II. His wife Queen Eleanor used the oil of the rose Alba and Hybrid Musk to disguise the poison with which she murdered Henry's mistress Jane Clifford better known as The Fair Rosamond.  

Coming on to the French version of the story, it is said that the rose was returned to a city near Paris known as Castle of Provins. Thibault IV brought the rose back in 1250 while returning from the seventh crusade. Since then Provins is the European capital of the rose and it was renamed "The Rose of Provins".

The Dark Ages were a time when roses flourished mostly inside monasteries. As a result, it became a rule that at least one monk had to be well versed in botany and the medicinal qualities of plants and herbs. At the end of the thirteenth century these roses were being used as potpourri and for their beautiful smell and by the sixteenth century the rose was used to cure hangover.

By the time of Napoleon in the 19th century apothecaries were ruling and afterwards all of these shops in Provins started planting roses in front of their shops and this is how they made the red rose a symbol of the apothecary.