Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 01 December |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Charles de Foucauld
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

This amazing flower has 12 symbols of Lent in every bloom

Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH-Shutterstock

Margaret Rose Realy, Obl.OSB - published on 02/25/17

The passion flower is one of the few plants that can be traced back to pre-literary times as a teaching tool for religious practices

Whenever Lent begins, even though it’s a season of penitence, excitement fills a gardener’s heart. Most of us are familiar with the origins of the word Lent, meaning the lengthening of days, and in the northern hemisphere it’s a time of expecting spring! Spiritually and horticulturally, we are drawn to new life at Easter.

During the weeks of Lent we intently focus on the Stations of the Cross, the Passion of Christ. Several plants are used in a garden setting to symbolize the Passion. Here is one of the most familiar.

The perennial flowering vine Passiflora incarnata is a medium-sized vine growing to about eight feet tall and wide, sprawling in nature by spreading roots — so give it room to show its beauty. It attaches itself to fences and arbors with tendrils that twist onto the support. The flowers are breathtaking in their fragrance and intricacies, blooming from June to September.

It is listed as hardy in USDA Zones 5-9 — though it eventually dies out in my Zone 5 area — and will grow in most non-saline soils, including clay. Grow in full sun to bright open or afternoon shade in warmer climates. Watering needs are medium to low, and it’s fairly drought tolerant. It is a healthy plant with few insect or disease problems, and it’s deer resistant. The fruits, called maypops, are edible and frequently used for jellies.

The passion flower is one of the few plants that can be traced back to pre-literary times as a teaching tool for religious practices. The passion flower meanings are:

  1. Ten petals representing the 10 of the 12 apostles who did not betray (Judas) Jesus or deny him (Peter).
  2. The three topmost stigmas (the part of the flower that receives the pollen and rises out of the top center of the passion flower) as attached to their styles (tiny little stems) recall the three nails that impaled our Lord to the cross.
  3. The five stamens that hold the anthers (the pads of pollen) together signify the five wounds of our Lord.
  4. The anthers alone represent the sponge used to moisten Jesus’ lips.
  5. The central column of the three stigmas and five anthers signifies both the post to which Jesus was scourged and also the cross on which he was hung.
  6. The 72 radial filaments are for the number of lashes Jesus received throughout his passion. They also are said to represent the crown of thorns.
  7. The leaves of most species are shaped like a lance and represent the spear thrust into Jesus’ side.
  8. The red stain on the corona at the base of the central column and the red speckling on the style holding the stigma is a reminder of the blood Jesus shed.
  9. The fruit of most passion flowers is round and signifies the world that Jesus came to save.
  10. The tendrils symbolize Jesus holding firmly to his purpose, and being supported by God’s love.
  11. The wonderful fragrance is said to represent the spices that the holy women brought with them on the day of the resurrection.
  12. The duration of the flower’s life is three days: the time elapsed before the resurrection of our Lord.

The passion flower is an amazing plant rich in symbolism. When we feel ourselves faltering in our faith, we can reflect on this flower and in its beauty find confidence in the greatest love story ever lived.

~

Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB, is a Benedictine oblate and author. Her works include The Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac. She blogs atMorning Rose Prayer Gardens.

Tags:
EconomyLent
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Andrea Bocelli
J-P Mauro
Andrea Bocelli to perform live Christmas conc...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
John Paul II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's guide to a fruitful Advent
CATHEDRAL OF THE SACRED HEART
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
6 Questions to determine if your heart is har...
FIRST CENTURY HOUSE AT THE SISTERS OF NAZARETH SITE
John Burger
British archaeologist confident he has found ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.