Mary's Flowers: Gardens, Legends, Meditations
Vincenzina Krymow.  Illustrated by A. Joseph Barrish, S.M.  Meditations by M. Jean Frisk.
Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger, 1999

This scholarly, beautifully-illustrated book may well be described as a treasury of Marian flower legends, gardens and meditations--as indicated in its title. But, as the author says in the introduction, it is more. "It is a book about devotion to Mary, God's Mother and our Mother. It shows how we continue to honor her through flowers."

Yes, the book does just that, by helping us meditate on Mary's virtues and attributes. Is that not what Marian devotion is all about? To quote Vatican II: "True devotion to Mary proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God, and are moved to filial love toward our mother and to the imitation of her virtues" (LG.67)

What more fitting way to describe Mary's virtues and privileges than by likening them to flowers, which are universally considered to be among God's most beautiful creations on this planet of ours? What better way to praise the Lord of Creation than by honoring Mary his Mother, by comparing her virtues and privileges to flowers, the work of God?

This inspirational gem of botanical lore is divided into three parts: 1) "Mary's Gold" is a history of flowers, legends and names; 2) "Mary's Flowers and the Legends" relate the origins of the associations, many relating to various events of importance in Mary' life, such as the Annunciation (Madonna Lily, Violet); the Visitation (Columbine); the Nativity (Christmas Rose, Carnation, etc.); 3) "Mary's Gardens," describes the appropriate plants for herbal Mary Gardens. Finally, there is an appendix, "Our Lady's Birthday Flowers," with the plants named after Mary: her life, attributes, features, garments, household, her garden and her roses. The book also features an extensive bibliography and index..

As a Montfort Missionary, I could not help relate this Mary-oriented botanical book of flowers to St. Louis Marie's approach to Marian spirituality. In his Secret of Mary, our Saint writes: "Mary is God's garden of Paradise, his unspeakable word, into which his Son entered, to tend it and to take delight in it. He created a world for the wayfarer, i.e., the one in which we live. He created a second world Paradise for the Blessed in heaven. He created a third one for Himself, which He named Mary."(#19)

Because of the technical and artistic beauty of its presentation, the thoroughness of its botanical and historical research, as well as its spiritual and inspirational message, this book can best be described as a worthy floral bouquet to the Mother of God for the Third Millennium.

--Roger M. Charest, S.M.

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