In pictures: The lovely spiritual symbolism of flowers

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Discover the flowers of the monastic gardens of the Middle Ages.

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In the monastic gardens of the Middle Ages, plants, herbs, and flowers were not cultivated only for their healing properties. They were just as appreciated for their beauty, perfume, and spiritual symbolism.

Medieval Christian symbolism exalts roses. They are the symbol of suffering and martyrdom. White lilies heal snakebites, according to Walafrid Strabo, a 9th-century Benedictine monk who described the healing virtues of flowers, but above all they stand for virginity and purity. With violet and columbine, all these varieties of flowers are intended to adorn the altars.

Vegetation’s various virtues correspond to religious symbols that reveal how much botany is related to religion. It reflects a peculiarly medieval worldview that puts God at the center. Nature is not a purely material world; it also has a spiritual dimension.

Discover the flowers of the monastic gardens and their symbolic beauty …

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