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Pope, US bishops exchange gifts April 17, 2008

During his visit to the US national shrine of the Immaculate Conception on April 16, Pope Benedict XVI presented a golden rose-- a traditional papal honor-- to the basilica.

The golden rose is bestowed by the Pope on Marian shrines to which he has visited and to which he attaches special importance. Pope Benedict had previously given the golden rose to shrines in Altötting, Germany; Mariazell, Austria; and Aparecida, Brazil.

On behalf of the American hierarchy, Cardinal Francis George, the president of the US bishops' conference offered the visiting Pontiff a gift of $870,000. The cardinal explained that the sum represented "the offerings of the faithful gathered in these last several weeks, from dioceses throughout the United States, to assist the charitable works that you undertake."

Cardinal George also called the Pope's attention to signs that were displayed all along the route that the popemobile took across Washington on April 16, wishing Benedict XVI a happy birthday. Those messages, the cardinal pointed out, included signs in German, Latin, Italian, and Spanish as well as English.