Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Assumption Lily and Our Lady


Aside from the rose, the flower most often associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary is the lily. John S. Stokes, the Mary gardener, said that Venerable Bede (673-735) discerned “the translucent whiteness of the petals of the white lily as symbolizing the purity of Mary’s body and the gold of its anthers* as symbolizing the glory of her soul, as she was assumed into heaven”. The Fish Eaters website says that early rosaries had Ave beads shaped like lilies.

The Assumption Lily, also called the plantain lily or August lily, blooms during August and is therefore associated with Assumption Day on August 15, the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin that we are celebrating today.

The Assumption Lily is actually a variety of hosta -- the hosta plantaginea, native to China and Japan. After visitors to Asia brought it to Europe for cultivation, it was given its Marian name. It is the only species of hosta that is highly fragrant, making even more significant its association with the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven.
“Today the spotless Virgin, untouched by earthly affections, and all heavenly in her thoughts, was not dissolved in earth, but truly entering heaven, dwells in the heavenly tabernacles.” St. John Damascene (676-754)
Image:
Photograph of hosta plantaginea, from Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.
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*An “anther” is the pollen-bearing part of the stamen of a plant.

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