Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. (Matthew 6 v.28)
Spring flowers are undeniably vibrant, yet, with the arrival of Easter there is one which is especially majestic; the Lily. With its trumpet-shaped, pure White flowers giving it an aura of graceful dignity, it is undeniably memorable. Widely recognised as being symbolic of hope, purity and rebirth, it is regarded as the quintessence of this sacred festival.
A native of the Mediterranean where it has been cultivated for some 3,500 years, the Lily was adopted by the early Christian Church as an emblem of purity and believed to have been brought to our shores by the Crusaders.
Over the years considerable folklore has blossomed around the Lily, much of which focuses on its origin. Indeed, some say they grew from Eve’s tears of remorse as she left the Garden of Eden, whilst others tell how they grew in the Garden of Gethsemane after Judas’ betrayal. Another explanation is that a White Lily grew from Jesus’ tears and sweat as they fell to the foot of the cross during his crucifixion.
It also has strong associations with Motherhood. Tradition tells us that on learning she was to become Jesus’ Mother the Virgin Mary was presented with Lilies by the Angel Gabriel; three days after her death they are said to have appeared in her tomb. No wonder it is sometimes called the Madonna Lily.
As we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday our churches are often filled with these beautiful and fragrant White-Robed Apostles of Hope; gracefully resplendent yet dignified, the Lily really does capture the true spirit of Easter.
On Easter Day the lilies bloom,
Triumphant, risen from their tomb;
Their bulbs have undergone rebirth,
Born from the silence of the earth
Symbolically, to tell all men
That Christ, the Saviour, lives again.
The angels, pure and white as they,
Have come and rolled the stone away
And with the lifting of the stone,
The shadow of the cross is gone!
(June Masters Bacher)