Although the Sacred Scriptures never reveal the Blessed Virgin Mary ever holding or carrying flowers, in many artistic renderings throughout the centuries, we often see Mary with different types of flowers. I would imagine she enjoyed the beauty of flowers since they are signs of God’s wonderful creation. There is even the chance that she kept flowers in the home of the Holy Family, as many women do today.
Not only do we see flowers with the Blessed Mother in art, but we also see flowers presented to her statues in Catholic churches. This is not some pagan ritual or custom of sacrifice, but it’s the way many people give thanks to her for interceding in their prayer requests. In the end, she is the Queen Mother who brings our prayers to her Heavenly Son, Our King and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Even though we see her with flowers in art and surrounding her statues in churches, we have also seen her with flowers as she has appeared over the centuries during different apparitions. The one that comes to mind for me very quickly is Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Miracle of the Roses. It is through the roses that we received the tilma of St. Juan Diego.
So the question might come to your mind – What flowers often appear with the Blessed Virgin Mary and what do they represent in relation to her?
Below are 10 flowers most commonly associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary –
Rose: Known as the “queen of flowers”, the rose represents Mary as Queen of Heaven. The rose is one of the most beautiful flowers in all creation. The rose in relation to the Blessed Mother displays perfect love, form, fragrance, and color.
Although roses are beautiful, there is also a hidden suffering in their thorns. For Mary, the thorns on the rose remind us that Our Lord Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns and gave up his blood for all humanity. As His Mother, Mary witnessed this suffering and death first hand at the foot of the cross.
Mary is also known as the Mystical Rose – “our fallen Nature’s solitary boast”, being the only human who was immaculately conceived without sin.
Ivy: The evergreen ivy represents Mary’s complete and total faithfulness as well as her eternity. She is our greatest example of complete and total faithfulness when it comes to trusting in God the Father. We see her complete faithfulness throughout her entire life, but especially at the Annunciation.
Lilies: The white lilies (Madonna lilies) and their beautiful fragrance represent Mary’s perfect purity, love, and humility to God’s divine economy. They are often seen during the Easter season when they represent the Resurrection of Christ.
Carnations: The pink or red carnations represent love and life for Mary. The red carnations are also associated with the crucifixion of Our Lord – “love unto death”, which Mary witnessed first hand with St. John the Apostle by her side. The carnation is also associated with the Incarnation of Christ.
Baby’s Breath: The blue baby’s breath represents Mary’s innocence and purity. It also can symbolize the breathing (“pnuema” in Greek) of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary at the Annunciation and he became her divine spouse.
Marigold: The marigold flower (calendula or “pot marigold”) is in honor of Mary’s simplicity through her home and family life. The flower also can represent the sorrows of Mary (Our Lady of Sorrows) for it is often used as a burial fragrance.
Violets: The gracefulness, color, sweet smell, and leaves in the shape of hearts, represent the humility, fidelity, and innocence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These three adjectives uniquely describe Mary’s role in Salvation History.
Gladiolus: The gladiolus derives from the Latin term that means, sword. These leaves shaped in the form of swords represent the sorrows that would pierce the heart of Mary as she walked to Calvary with Jesus Christ.
Iris: The profound blue color of the iris represents the fidelity of Mary. Its blade-shaped verdure symbolized the sorrows that would pierce the heart of Mary in Luke 2:35 – “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also…” This scripture passage is the genesis of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In France, the iris flower is the “fleur-de-lis”.
Blue Columbine: The columbine is a flower composed of petals in a band that appears to look like doves (columba – Latin for doves). In regards to the Blessed Virgin Mary, this flower represents her fidelity. Blue is the most common color associated with Mary.
I hope that when you see these flowers again in art, around statues, or in pictures of her apparitions, you will have a better understanding of how they represent our Blessed Virgin Mary now and forever.