Thursday, August 21, 2008


The annunciation is perhaps another easy one for which a flower comes easily to mind. It is so common to find the lily in a painting of the annunciation. It is not uncommon to find the angel holding the lily or, in many cases, for the lily to be seen in a clear vase (a sign of purity) in the scene. The lily is closely associated with Saint Gabriel the archangel who made the announcement to Mary. The lily is also a symbol of purity and is often put in the hand of a virgin saint. For all of these reasons it has become a ready symbol of the annunciation.

Strangely enough, the olive branch is also a symbol of the annunciation. It was used by artists in Siena because they did not wish to use the lily which was used as the symbol of Florence with whom they were bitter enemies. Just the same the olive readily lends itself since it symbolizes God’s providence toward His children. From the olive we receive great amounts of oil (and oil is a symbol of favor and blessing) and thus the olive becomes a handy symbol in this instance. Particularly if you disfavor Florence over Siena.

One of the books that I consult lists the pomegranate as a symbol of the ascension but I must disagree. None of my other books confirm this assertion. At most I find the pomegranate as a symbol of the Church or the Resurrection. The book also failed to give a reason as to why it would be a good symbol of the ascension but I mention it here merely for reference or if someone could find another resource to counter my position.

The color of Pentecost is of course red owing to red being attributed to the Holy Spirit Who appeared as tongues of fire and fire being, of course, red. At least it is in my crayon box. Therefore any flower sporting this color would be appropriate. Of course all the flowers used for baptism and confirmation would also be appropriate as well as any plants associated with the Holy Spirit.

All Saints day can allow for quite an imaginative array of flowers. All plants that are associated with saints and symbols of life over death can be used. Palms and lilies might be most appropriate. White is the official color of the day so that might be worked into a theme or a mixture of white and red (for martyred saints – red being the color of the blood that they spilt). Wheat could also be used in reference to John 12:24. Then there are all of the plants associated with specific saints such as the three leaf clover (Oh just guess who) and the rose (St. Therese.)


Unknown said...

I don't know the source but I recall reading that the apple in the Garden of Eden narrative was most likely the pomegranate. So to come full circle as the symbol of the Resurrection makes sense.

I believe that in addition to his carpentry tools, the lily is also associated with St. Joseph. There is a statue of St. Joseph with lily at the entrance to our church - the Church of St. Joseph.

Anonymous said...

Every true flower is a blessing. Lilies (for me) have come to symbolize death, which is extreme purity, in a way.. there's no more sinning at all, then, which is why I wasn't thoroughly shocked to read that a body timed to wear out after 80 (and if any 80-yr olds are looking in, 95) years, may actually be a huge Mercy. And speaking of timed bodies, I want to wish Fr. V's a very happy birthday today (Sunday). Glad you were born.


Lillian Marie said...

Since you're not blogging today - I'll say Happy Birthday now!
You yung'un!

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday... glad I stopped by and saw the comments...

Adoro said...

Fr. V. , I'm glad you were born, too.


Father Schnippel said...

Happy B-day, Father!