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Flowers for the Virgin Mary

Certain flowers bloomed at specific times in the Marian calendar, and monks, friars and nuns used them to meditate on and celebrate key events in Mary’s life.

virgin mary

Photo: Thomas Hawk

Mary herself is often likened to an enclosed garden embodying mothering and nurturance.

There are an extraordinary number of flowers associated with the Virgin Mary, and many of them are named after her. Most are related to legends and stories connected to her life. In fact, Mary herself is often likened to an enclosed garden embodying mothering and nurturance.

Certain flowers bloomed at specific times in the Marian calendar, and monks, friars and nuns then used these flowers to meditate on and celebrate the key events in Mary’s life. For example, the white snowdrop is the flower of Candlemas, the Madonna lily is the flower of the Annunciation, the Greek anemone symbolizes the Passion, and virgin’s bower clematis is the flower of the Assumption.

Mary’s signature flower is, of course, the rose. As Cardinal Henry Newman wrote:

“Mary is the queen of spiritual flowers, and therefore she is called the rose, for the rose is fitly called of all the flowers, the most beautiful. But moreover, she is the mystical or hidden rose, for mystical means hidden. Mary, born without original sin, is also without thorns and the scent is an emblem of her spirit.”

Within the Roman Catholic Church properties worldwide, there are many gardens dedicated to the mother of Jesus. Many are rose gardens, but others also contain many different types of lilies, marguerites, marigolds, rosemary, virgin’s bower clematis, and many other flowers that are associated with Mary, too.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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