What do you think the following flowers have in common: rose, thistle, violet, marigold, carnation, lily, and forget-me-not? Each one has a legend that associates the flower with the Blessed Mother. Some flowers are certainly well-known for such connections. Flowers are one of the many symbols of Mary.
FLOWERS ASSOCIATED WITH MARY
Mary is often portrayed with a lily, for example, as a symbol of her purity and openness to God’s will.
The word “rosary” is derived from the rose and represents a garland of prayer and reflection on moments from the lives of Jesus and Mary.
Legend has it that some flowers bloomed at particular times during Mary’s life – such as the carnation, which opened on the night of Christ’s birth.
Others are said to have offered shelter as the Holy Family fled to Egypt in the face of Herod’s wrath. Two of these – rosemary and juniper – were bushes that opened their branches and then enfolded Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in its protective branches.
In her book, Mary’s Flowers, Vincenzina Kymow, chronicles the legends of these flowers and how each offers inspiration for meditating on the life and faith of Mary.
My mother was a gifted gardener so this form of meditation has particular appeal for me. I connect my first spiritual experience with her rose garden. As a small child, I recall sitting beside it and sensing that Jesus was very close to me. The protective love that surrounded me was maternal and blessed – much in the way Mary enfolded her son with love throughout his life.
FLOWERS FOR MOTHER'S DAY
Gifting mothers with flowers on Mother’s Day has become a tradition, one that certainly generates a nice income for the florist industry.
It is also one that might remind us of these ancient associations with the Blessed Mother.
Whether we are givers or recipients of actual flowers or ones of the heart, we might all reflect this Mother’s Day on the grace with which we, too, have been filled. In doing so, we can turn with confidence to Mary and ask for her prayers on our behalf and on behalf of all of those in need of comfort, joy, protection, and love.
The Gather in My Name Mary event is a perfect way to bring together people of all ages to reflect upon and celebrate the life and faith of our Blessed Mother. Plan to use the event with your entire parish or particular parts of it with your class or family.
Discuss other symbols of Mary with your family or class. Some symbols of Mary worth researching are fruit, colors, and the book.