Sunday, 17 May 2009

Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra

Flowers appeared in our land...I don't know about my readers, but I love gardens (I have a Hobbit-love of gardens in fact) although I am the so-called ''kiss of death'' when it actually comes to growing anything myself! I brought some Hyssop a few months ago for my parish, and it arrived on Ash Wednesday, but I have since left the poor plant in my father's capable hands!

Well anyway, it is the Month of Our Lady and many flowers remind me of her. I expect we'll all be thinking of the most common Marian flower, the Rose, but there are others that are associated with some aspect of her life, Lavender the flight into Egypt, Lily-of-the-Valley Our Lady's sorrow at the foot of the Cross (said to have bloomed on the hill of Calvary when her tears fell to the earth), or perhaps even the Snap-dragon and the Infant Christ's feet. The gundelia, a thistle, is believed by many to be the Crown of Thorns that surrounded Christ's holy head when He was Crucified for our Redemption. And so, let us explore the Mary Garden...

A Mary Garden is an enclosed garden, filled with divers trees, plants and other flowers that are associated with Our Lord and Lady, designed for prayer and contemplation upon God's creation. The origins of the Mary Garden go back even to the time of St Benedict, who planted a Rosarium in the grounds of Monte Cassino in the 6th century. Before the golden age of Christendom, many flowers were cherished by pagans and named in honour of their gods. These flowers were then ''baptised'' as it were, by the Church and by the devotion of the faithful, and were thence associated with Christ and His Mother, the Pentecost Rose (Peony), Our Lady's Tears (Spiderwort), Our Lady's Mantle (Morning Glory) etc to give a few examples. During the Protestant Reformation and Enlightenment periods, these flowers were given new ''reasonable, non-superstitious'' names, and their original meaning has fallen out of the knowledge even of most Catholics (including myself until recently); but they are still loved by some Catholic gardeners for their true meanings.

More information on Mary Gardens can be found here.

Rosa Mystica, ora pro nobis.

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