Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Royal banner azure with countless
gold Fleur de lis 12th century.

Fleur de lis was adopted by King Phillip I of France or King Louis VI who became the first French monarch to use the Fleur de lis on his shield. (A blue shield decorated with golden Fleur de lis). As Louis VIII wore blue vestments decorated with golden fleur de lis, English kings added the symbol on their coat of arms to emphasize their claims to the French throne.

King Philip I of France

Charles V, crowned in 1364, reduced the number of fleur de lis to three. This banner preceded the king everywhere and was carried by an equerry. Only the king alone could display the banner. It was used in Battle by all of the French kings up To HenryIV. (1590)

Coronation of King Charles V and his banner

From 1590-1790 the Bourbon banner, a white flag with three golden fleur de lis was one of four flags used by the military. Others were blue with three gold fleur de lis of different shape and sizes or a lion rampant between three fleur de lis which dated back to Charles VI of France (1405).

Charles VI of France and the Bourbon flag

In the 14th century, fleur de lis was often incorporated into the family insignia that was sewn on the knight's surcoat, (the three petals representing the Holy Trinity) which was worn over their coat of mail, thus the term 'coat of

Joan of Arc. Holding the white banner
decorated with Fleur de lis.

The white cross and the fleur de lis of France are attributed to Joan of Arc and Charles VII. In her support of Dauphin against the English she led the French troops to victory, thus helping Charles VII regain his throne. The flag supposedly contained many motifs and it was intended to be a contradiction of the English flag, meaning that England was subject to France and not vice-versa. The multiple fleur de lis represented the unity of many different parts of France.

Joan of arc carrying the Fleur de lis banner. King Charles VII of France

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fleur des lis

The English translation of Fleur des lis, sometimes spelled "Fleur de lys" is flower of the lily.

Standard heraldic histories claim it originated in the 10th century as a symbol of sovereignty. It is believed to take the shape of a lily and to symbolize Mary and the Holy Trinity among other things.

This symbol depicting a stylized lily has many meanings. Traditionally it was used to represent French Royalty and in that sense it is said to signify perfection, light and life. A symbolic of Davidic descent.

Baptism of King Clovis
On Christmas day in this year, King Clovis and his warriors, about 3,000 of them, were Baptized at Rheims, France by the Bishop. The whole nation became Catholic, and France is called for the first time, "The Eldest Daughter of the Church" in Europe

Fleur de lis' origins with the French monarchs stems from the baptismal lily used in the crowning of King Clovis I. A legend claims that an angel presented Clovis the Merovignian King of the Franks with a Golden lily as a symbol of his purification upon his conversion to Christianity. Others claim that Clovis adopted the symbol when water lilies showed him how to safetly cross a river and thus succeed in battle.

King Clovis

To further enchance its mystique, more legends eventually sprang up that a vial of oil descended from heaven to anoint and sactify Clovis as King. The thus "anointed" Kings of France later maintained that their authority was direct from God, without the mediation of either the Emperor or the Pope.

Other legends claim that even the lily itself appeared at the baptismal ceremony as a gift of blessing in an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

King of Gaul, ancestor of Clovis, whose mythical arms Azure three toads were changed upon his conversion to Azure three fleurs-de-lys. French Arthurian legends make Pharamon a contemporary of Uterpendragon and a knight of the Round Table.

For centuries lily was depicted as a symbol of Mary and the Catholic Church. During which the Church's power grew immensely. Clovis having converted to Christianity chose the same flower as a symbol and through the legends he could lay his claim to Fleur de lis, hoping it would bring him as much power it had brought the Church.

Some historians claim that the symbol is found much further back in history- as far back as Assyrian ornamental design. They say it is also seen on Greek, Roman and Celtic heritage. In reality those symbols depicting a Fleur de lis are actually are impressions of the flower itself, the Lily.

There are many other claims, stating that Fleur de lis actually originated as a stylized bee, or a stylized frog. It is also symbolic of Yoni and a French variation of the cross which is an alchemical symbol.

Fleur de lis is usually depicted blue the traditional color of truth and also the heavenly one.

One explanation include the shape having been developed from the image of a dove descending, which is the symbol of the Holy Ghost.

In Egypt it was also the attribute of the god of Horus

Sunday, May 14, 2006


As in Hera, one of the legends tells that the lily sprung from the tears shed by Eve as she left the Garden of Eden. Another legend relates to the tears of the Virgin at the foot of the Cross. Lilium Candidum has been the symbol of purity, chastity and virtue and was accordingly readily adopted by the Church to associate the Virgin Mary's sanctity with events of special significance.

Detail, Madonna Lily

Artists for centuries have pictured the angel Gabriel coming to the Virgin Mary with a spray of lilies in his hand, to announce that she is to be the mother of the Christ child.

Ecce Ancilla Domini, Dante Gabriel Rosseti. 1850

Jesus used "the lilies of the field" as the object of one of his better known lessons. ( Matthew 6:28 , Luke 12:27)

Its white color symbolizing the purity of the Savior and the joy of the resurrection while its trumpet shape suggests the angel Gabriel"s trumpet call to Rebirth and resurrection.

Another version suggests that the Roman Catholic Church adopted the Madonna lily to represent and honor the Virgin because its pure white exterior symbolized her purity while its gold sprinkled interior represents her supreme value and worth.

Madonna with baby Christ with lilies in the background

One legend claims that lilies were originally yellow. One day, as the Virgin Mary was walking to the temple to worship, she bent down to pick one of the beautiful blossoms. At her touch, the flower instantly changed to the pure white we recognize today. In her honor, Joseph, who was walking with her, was also touched by this miracle, for his staff began to grow a bouquet of the white lilies.

The Assumption of the Virgin, Francesco Botticini 1475-6

Another legend tells of the disciple Thomas who was away at the time of Mary's death, consistent with his reputation as a doubter, one who had to see in order to believe, he demanded that her tomb be opened so that he could view her body as proof that she had really died. Reluctantly, the other disciples obeyed his request, and to everyone's amazement, they found her tomb filled with lilies and roses, the flowers traditionally dedicated to her. As they stood in wonder, a beautiful Madonna Lily appeared at Thomas's feet and when he looked up he saw the Virgin floating above him.

The Annunciation, Sandro Boticelli c.1500

A less common lily, the red lily from the Caucasus which has a tendency to droop its head, was also believed to originally be pure white like the Madonna Lily. As Christ walked through the garden of Gethsemane on his way to pray, all the flowers bowed in reverence in his presence. The Lily knew she was exquisitely beautiful with a powerful fragrance, and she wanted to be noticed by Christ as he walked through the garden. So she did not bow as he passed her. To her surprise and embarrassment, he stopped and gazed directly at her. She suddenly became ashamed of her pride and conceit, blushed a deep red and lowered her head. To this day is how the red lily presents itself.

Venerable Bede

It is said that the Venerable Bede (673-735) who first describes the Madonna lily as a symbol of the Virgin, the white representing the purity of her body, the golden anthers the brightness of her soul.

Alcuin of York

Alcuin (735-804), the English scholar-priest recruited by Charlemagne, and founder of the palace school at Aix, adorned his cell with roses and Madonna lilies. He was a correspondent of Benedict of Aniane, who on Charlemagne's instructions, issued an order itemizing plants to be grown in gardens on all the Crown lands-thus bridging the gardening practices of the ancient world and those of the Middle Ages.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Lilium Candidum

The existence of the lily in the Holy Land has been a controversial topic. Historians believe the Biblical mention of "Lilies of the Field" actually refers to many wildflowers that grow in Israel and in particular, to the crown Anemone. However, botanists discovered colonies of Lilium Candidum growing in northern Palestine. They knew it was a wild plant because it was in a location untouched by civilization. This was a controversial discovery because botanists thought the Madonna Lily did not produce seeds. However, in 1916, a colony of seed producing Madonna Lilies were found, thus ending the debate. Botanists believe that environmental changes led to the decrease in the numbers.

Hot dry summers of Israel today do not suit the growth requirements and late summer blooming habit of this lily. Today it can be found in cooler mountain areas near streams in the Galilee. One perfect location is the hills surrounding the Montfort Crusader castle built by Templar Crusader knights in the early 12th century

Montfort castle, Galilee 1200 AD.

Of all the flowers mentioned in the Bible, lilies are mentioned the most. The lily was used in the scriptures in many a romantic poetry, and are mentioned in the Old Testament as decorative carvings on pillars in palaces and temples. But most of all they are mentioned in Solomon's Song of Songs.

"I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys." Songs of Solomon, 2:1
"As the lily among thorns, so is my love among daughters." Songs of Solomon, 2:2
"My beloved is mine and I am his; he feedeth among the lilies. Songs of Solomon, 16
" And its rim was like the rim of the cup, like a lily blossom." King I, 7:26
"I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily." Hosea 14:5

Hexagram and Lilium Candidum . Similar?

King Solomon was captivated by this flower and used it as the original symbol for his seal which today we know as the Seal of Solomon. (Hexagram, Star of David) The lily with its white petals resonates purity and symbolism and venerates divinity. The lily possesses a phalic rod which thrusts forth from its interior, making it uniquely hermaphroditic in its symbolism.

The Hexagram is associated with the Biblical Solomon, known as the Star of David. It represents divine union, being composed of a female watery triangle and a male fiery triangle, which correspond to lily's hermaphroditic make up. The Hebrew word for lily Shoshan is usually rendered whiteness and it derives from a root meaning six, which fits well with the petal number of Lilium Candidum and in return the six pointed star of David.

Just a coincidence?

Many scholars attemted to trace the star of David back to King David himself, but all evidence suggested otherwise. The earliest known Jewish use of the hexagram was a a seal in ancient Israel. (6th century AD) Legends connect this symbol with the seal of Solomon. I believe the origins of the Hexagram and its meaning came from the lily which Solomon adored and chose as his symbol.


Wall murals depicting lilies. Knossos, Crete 1600 BC.

It is among the most ancient of cultivated ornamental flower. They appear on Assyrian carvings and Egyptian tombs. In Crete it was the most frequent floral motif of Minoan art. It is depicted in the murals at Knossos. Lily was the Minoan sacred flower, an attribute of the great Minoan goddess Britomartis or Dictynna, who had her origins in Neolithic times. It symbolized purity and grace for the Greeks and Romans from early days and perhaps for the same reason it was grown and applauded by the Hebrews.

Lily murals Knossos. 1580 BC.

Lily was dedicated to the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus. Legend has it that it was when Zeus fathered Hercules with the mortal woman Alceme, he wished his son to partake more fully of divinity. To this end he had the baby brought to Hera after he drugged her to sleep and had the baby placed at her breast. As Hercules nursed, Hera awoke in horrified surprise and flung the baby from her. Some of her milk gushed across the heavens and formed the Milky Way. A few drops fell to earth and from those drops sprang the first Lily.

Lily Vases c. 1600- 1580 BC. Heraclion Museum , Crete

Roman legend has it that when Venus rose from the seafoam she saw a lily and she became filled with jealous envy at the whiteness and beauty of it. Seeing it as a rival to her own beauty she caused a huge and monstrous pistil to spring from the lily's snow white center. This myth accounts for the lily being associated with Venus and the Satyrs, who are the personification of lustful ardor.

Knossos Throne Room. Palace of Minos, Crete

In Greek and Roman marriage ceremonies the brides wore a crown of lilies as a symbol of purity and abundance. Lilies are also a symbol of death, and at one time lilies were placed on the graves of young innocents.

Brown glazed vessel with cream white glaze in lily motif.
1600 BC. Heraclion Museum, Crete

Lilium Candidum

Lilium Candidum; Madonna Lily

Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum : Magnoliophyta
Class : Liliopsida
Order : Liliales
Family : Liliaceae
Genus : Lilium
Species : Lilium Candidum
Range : S.W.Asia. Naturalized in Europe
Habitat : Rocky slopes and in scrub to 600 meters
Epithets: Candidum~ very white

Liliaceae, the lily family has approximately 294 genera with 4500 species, and every member of every genus produces flowers consisting of six segments or petals and six stamens, which are the male reproductive structure of the flower. Three of the six petals often are referred to as sepals-the outer covering of the flower that protects its reproductive structures.
The scented flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are polluted by bees.
It produces stiff, erect stems, 3 to 5 feet high, clothed with lance-shaped leaves. The flowers appear in June, flowering into July and has a strong sweet penetrating perfume.

Dazzling White

Embracing the history of many countries, Liliums are named after a Celtic word that means whiteness. Cultivated since 3000 BC. and named by the poet Virgil "Vergilius", the Madonna Lily is considered the oldest domesticated flower. Amassing quite a reputation throughout the centuries. Referring to the splendid, heavenly scented steeples, Candidum is Latin for "dazzling white".

An Unsealed Room

Lilium Candidum

A flower developed in Israel has aroused excitement and interest at the Vatican, which will soon be receiving a very special bouquet, specially delivered from Beersheva.

The "Madonna Lily"(Lilium Candidum) is a rare white Easter lily that Israeli agriculture and biologist have successfully managed, for the first time, to prepare for flowering in time for Easter. A team of horticulturists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev were able to coax the bulb to flower two months earlier than its natural schedule, using modern agrotechnical methods.

The horticultural team headed by Dr. Michele Zaccai has been growing the flower bulbs under special greenhouse conditions in order to speed up its flowering before the period of special interest to the Christian world. Normally, the flower only blossoms from May to June - too late for the Annunciation and Easter celebrations.

The unique white lily which grows naturally in Israel, is an endangered species. It grows at two sites, in the Galilee and the Carmel, which constitutes its most southern natural territory.

This beautiful flower is grown in other parts of the world. But Madonna Lily is distinct from the flowers known as the "Easter Lily" (Lilium Longiflorum) whose origin is in Japan and is more common in the flower markets today.

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