Just like the favourite flower of alpinists, which only germinates at altitudes that are difficult to reach, certain qualities of soul are reserved for those who are willing to scale the pinnacles of virtue


The eternal, virginal snows of the Alps, which are constantly battered by icy winds, nobly crown the peaks of imposing rock formations.

During the 19th century, perhaps driven by nostalgia for the epic spirit which shone so brightly in the Europe of bygone days, many young people set out to conquer the summits of those mountains which their ancestors had only contemplated. They received as recompense the sight of grandiose panoramas, the satisfaction of a goal achieved with prowess and, perhaps, a degree of renown…

Unexpectedly, they were also rewarded with a simple treasure endowed with beautiful symbolism. Those daring pioneers came across a tiny jewel of the plant kingdom, hitherto admired only by eagles: the edelweiss – from the German noble white or pure white – a small white and velvety flower that would become the symbol of mountaineering.

Edelweiss flower photographed in Queyras Valley (France)

Since it was endemic to high altitudes and not easy to find, this flower took on legendary tones, and was considered to endow its possessor with a halo of bravery and unprecedented intrepidity. Thus, Franz Joseph I chose it in 1907 as the symbol of the Mountain Troops of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; in Switzerland, the highest ranks of the army used it as an insignia to replace stars; and, during the First World War, it was awarded as a medal to German troops that demonstrated outstanding valour.

For its simplicity and charm, it was also much appreciated by the Austrian aristocracy, who adorned their clothing with fine jewellery inspired by it. Little by little, this mythical plant – also known by the French as étoile des Alpes, star of the Alps – celebrated in poems and songs, established itself definitively in the cultural firmament of the Old Continent.

God often manifests the most sublime metaphysical realities to men when they combine the admiring contemplation of nature with tradition. And the edelweiss offers us a clear example of this. Indeed, those who analyse and meditate with a supernatural spirit on the transcendent aspects and reflections contained in it will find something even more precious: a catechesis, a message from the Creator.

Chastity – purity of body and soul, symbolized by the apparent fragility and whiteness of the flower – sprouts only from the immaculate snow that is devotion to Mary Most Holy, and it is preserved only by those truly combative, daring and audacious souls who, having set their sights on the heights of Christian perfection, resolve to fight to attain it. They are courageous souls, who trust not in their own strength, but only in the grace that comes to us through Our Lady, abandoned in her maternal arms like edelweiss under the mountain sun.

“Edelweiss souls”, on receiving the last rays of the sun, never withering, finally rise above paltry matter, to sparkle with renewed radiance… Not like the étoiles des Alpes, or like fine jewels on the dress of an earthly princess, but with supernatural splendour, they are destined to adorn the crown of Her whose holiness suffuses the whole world with its perfume: Mary, the Queen and Sovereign, invoked as Splendor Firmamenti.


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