CHRISTMAS ROSE

Helleborus niger. Holy Night Rose or Rose de Noel.

LEGEND

White blossoms, flushed with pink, sprang up outside the stable where Jesus was born after the angel Gabriel, seeing the shepherd girl Madelon crying because she had no gift for Jesus, touched the frozen earth with his staff. Madelon filled her arms with the flowers and ran to decorate Jesus' bed and the stable where Mary had borne him.

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SNOWDROP

Galanthus nivalis. The Flower of the Purification, Fair Maid of February, Candlemas Bells.

LEGEND

The snowdrop is said to have bloomed on February 2, when Mary took Jesus to the temple. Forty days after giving birth, Mary came to the temple to make an offering, purifying herself from ritual uncleanliness. She also presented her son to God. February 2, forty days after Christ's birth, became known as the feast of the Purification, as well as the feast of the Presentation of Jesus. The day also became known as Candlemas Day after 701 A.D., when Pope Sergius I directed that a procession with candles begin the celebration of the Feast of the Purification.

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LILY OF THE VALLEY

Convalleria majalis. Mary's Tears.

LEGEND

It was said that when Mary wept at the foot of the Cross, her tears fell to the ground and turned into the tiny fragrant blossoms of this early spring plant. In England it had the name "Our Lady's Tears" because when viewed from a distance the white flowerets gave the appearance of tear drops falling.

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ROSES AND LILIES

Rosa. red rose, Our Lady's Rose; Lilium. white lily, Mary's Lily.

LEGEND

It was told that Mary was surrounded with red roses and white lilies as she ascended into heaven. Also that Thomas, who had not been present when Mary died, refused to believe that this had happened and asked that her tomb be opened. When it was opened it was found to contain only lilies and roses.

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FLEUR-DE-LIS

Iris pseudacorus. Yellow flag iris.

LEGEND

During the fourteenth century in France a wealthy knight, Salaun, renounced the world and entered the Cistercian Order. He was devoted to Mary but could never remember more than the first two words of the Ave Maria. He kept repeating the two words, "Ave Maria, Ave Maria," as he prayed to the Virgin. He prayed to her day and night, using only those two words. He grew old and when he died was buried in the chapel-yard of the monastery. As proof that Mary had heard his short but earnest prayer a fleur-de-lis plant sprang up on his grave, and on every flower shone in golden letters the words "ave Maria."

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ROSEMARY

Rosemarinus officinalis. Arbor Sanctae Maria, St. Mary's Tree.

LEGEND

The rosemary bush gave shelter to the Holy Family during the flight into Egypt. It is told that Mary hung the linens of the Holy Child on the rosemary bush to dry, and afterwards it became aromatic and evergreen, with little blue flowers springing up from its branches.

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JUNIPER

Juniperis. The Madonna's Juniper Bush.

LEGEND

As Herod's soldiers pursued them, the Holy Family came upon the Madonna's Juniper Bush, as it is known in Sicily, which opened up its thick branches to enclose them, hiding them until Herod's men had gone. The inside of the large bush became a soft bed, sheltering the fleeing family, while needles on the outside branches grew prickly as spears. Herod's soldiers could not penetrate the spiky branches of the juniper and passed the family by.

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GERMANDER SPEEDWELL

Veronica chamaedrys. Our Lady's Resting-place.

LEGEND

In Europe the plant was known as Our Lady's Resting-place, after a LEGEND that its blossoms marked each place where the Blessed Mother rested during the flight into Egypt.

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VIOLET

Viola odorata. Our Lady's Modesty.

LEGEND

Violets blossomed outside the Virgin Mary's window when she spoke the words, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord," to the angel Gabriel and accepted God's divine plan for her. It is told that as the angel left Mary, he stopped to bless the little flowers, bestowing a delicate fragrance on them.

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ROSE OF JERICHO

Anastatica hierochuntica. Rose of the Virgin, Holy Night Rose and Mary's Rose.

LEGEND

It is told that the Rose of Jericho sprang up to mark the spot at each place where the Holy Family rested during their flight to Egypt.

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ENGLISH MARIGOLD

Calendula officinalis. Scottish or pot marigold. Mary's Gold.

LEGEND

Tradition says that Our Lady used the golden blossoms as coins and that her garments were adorned with the flowers. Early Christians placed calendula around statues of Mary, offering the blossoms in place of coins, and called them Mary's Gold.

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CUCKOO FLOWER

Cardamine pratensis. Meadow cress, Our Lady's Smock

LEGEND

The flowers of meadow cress are known as Our Lady's Smock in Cheshire, England, because the flowers look like little smocks. When they cover a meadow the flowers give the appearance of little smocks laid out to dry.

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CARNATION

Dianthus caryophyllus. Mary's Love of God and Divine Flower.

LEGEND

A German LEGEND says that the flower bloomed on the night of Jesus' birth.

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HAREBELL

Campanula rotundifolia. Bluebell. Our Lady's Thimble.

LEGEND

The bell-shaped flowers, resembling tiny thimbles, were named after Our Lady to honor her working hands as she made Jesus' clothes, including the seamless robe He was wearing when He was crucified.

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SEA-PINK

Armeria maritima. Our Lady's Cushion.

LEGEND

The blossoms of this plant, shaped like miniature cushions, formed a place for Mary to sit on when she rested during the flight into Egypt.

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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by J.C. Tierney , was last modified Monday, 06/13/2011 14:39:52 EDT by Ajay Kumar . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.

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