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The Cover
June 7, 2006

Rosa mundi

JAMA. 2006;295(21):2447. doi:10.1001/jama.295.21.2447

In all its wisdom, nature has chosen the rose as the first, as well as the last, visible sign of summer. Its fragrance heralds the season's beginning, its fading beauty the season's demise. In between, it garlands the months with grace and erases memories of winters past. Forever new, the rose is yet ancient, abounding in lore and legend. The rose was, for example, sacred to Venus and one of her attributes. Until she wounded her foot on a thorn while rushing to the aid of her lover Adonis, all roses were white. After that, some were red, marking the places where droplets of her blood had fallen. Renaissance artists appropriated the white rose for the Virgin Mary and the red rose for Christian martyrs. And, once upon a time, in the garden of Eden, roses had been thornless; after the Fall, the beauty and fragrance of their blossoms remained, but their stems acquired the ability to wound.