Mary, May, Mothers, and Flowers

by Kathleen Glavich, SND on April 25, 2018

in Blogs

Well, spring is officially here! Despite the recent snow and cold weather, a few daffodils bravely appeared in front of my house. Did you know that a daffodil is called Mary’s star? In doing research for my book “The Catholic Companion to Mary,” I discovered that more than 700 flowers and plants have been named for Mary or are connected to her through legends.  This makes sense because our Blessed Mother is the most beautiful of women, and flowers are arguably the loveliest of God’s creations. Chaucer called Mary “the flower of flowers.” This Scripture verse is applied to her: “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (Song of Solomon 2:1). Mary gardens, where “Mary” flowers grow, beautify the grounds of our National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. and some parishes.

Here is a “bouquet” of Marian flowers for you as found in my book:

Lily – Mary’s purity. The gold stamens surrounded by the white petals stand for Jesus or for Mary’s holiness.

Rose – Its beauty, fragrance, and thorns signify Mary’s role in salvation history. Mary is called Mystical Rose. White roses stand for her joys; red for her sorrows, and yellow for her glories.

Iris – Its deep-blue symbolizes Mary’s fidelity, and its blade-shaped leaves denote her sorrows. The iris is the fleur-de-lis of France.

Gladiolus – Its sword-shaped leaves symbolize Mary’s sorrows. Gladiolus is Latin for “sword.”

Baby’s Breath – Mary’s innocence and purity as well as the breath of the Holy Spirit

Ivy (evergreen) – Mary’s faithfulness

Violets – Mary’s humility and innocence. Legend: When Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” violets blossomed outside her window and the Angel Gabriel blessed them as he left.

Marigold (Mary’s gold) –  Named for Mary, it symbolizes her simplicity and domesticity as well as her sorrows because of its strong scent like burial ointments and because sometimes it “weeps” in the morning. Legend: Thieves who stole Mary’s purse on the Flight into Egypt found it full of marigolds.

Rosemary (Rose of Mary) – Legend: It turned blue after Mary en route to Egypt spread the Baby Jesus’ clothes out to dry on it.

Thistle – Our Lady’s thistle. Legend: The leaves of the plant became spotted when drops of milk fell on them while Mary was nursing Jesus.

Blue Columbine – Our Lady’s slipper, said to have sprung up where she walked.

Flowers compared to things belonging to Mary:

Larkspur, Lily of the Valley . . . .  Mary’s tears

Forget-me-not . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary’s eyes

Cornflower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary’s crown

Sweet Scabius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary’s pincushion

Peony . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary’s rose

Morning Glory  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Our Lady’s mantle

Bleeding Heart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Heart of Mary

Periwinkle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Virgin’s flower

Foxglove . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Our Lady’s gloves or thimble

Parsley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Our Lady’s lace

Sage ­. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Mary’s shawl

Fuchia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Our Lady’s earrings

Sweet Woodruf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Our Lady’s bedstraw

 

On Mother’s Day we honor our mothers with a corsage or a bouquet. When we pray the Rosary, we offer our Blessed Mother a circle of prayers like a garland of roses. This notion may spring from this charming legend:  a band of robbers observed a monk praying the rosary by the roadside. Each prayer fell from his lips as a rose, and the Virgin Mary herself gathered up the roses and formed them into a garland for her head. 

Do you place flowers before Mary’s statue? Do you have a statue of Mary in your yard or garden? Did you ever participate in a May crowning in which her statue is crowned with flowers?

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jos clark April 25, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Very interesting column , sister
How’nout dandelions (just kidding)
White butterflies 🦋 are back, too. Saw one last week
They are supposed to represent a deceased loved
One. Yes, I talk to them
How have you been?

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Ruth Ann Pilney April 25, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Thank you for this beautiful contribution to Marian devotion. I have a copy of your Catholic Companion book about Mary, and I highly recommend it to others.

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