Catholic CornucopiadCheney

Letter F

The Catholic Language of Flowers

Fair Maid of France,—Recollections of Joan of Arc

(Ranunculus platanifolius: Nat. Order, Ranunculaceæ)

The glorious sun of success appears to set over Orleans; but in the quiet village of Domremy, resides the redemptress of France. Great are the designs of Providence in her regard; and as time rolls on, and she knows that the time for their accomplishment is fast approaching, the beating of her heart quickens; many are the prayers that she offers to Heaven, and many the sighs and anxious words that escape her.
    At length, Domremy’s humble flower has fulfilled her mission: her country is saved; her king is crowned at Rheims; and now she yearns to taste again the peace and happiness of her native village. But alas! how different is the fate that awaits her!
    In a dark and gloomy prison, fades the flower whose beauty won all hearts, and whose sweet influence drew so many brave souls around her country’s standard; and France’s fair maid suffers an ignominious death.


(Nephrodium: Nat. Order, Filices)

The Fern conceals behind its leaves the precious treasure of its young seeds. Thus should we guard, with jealous prudence, the priceless gifts of innocence and holiness, lest the world should rob us of them.


(Ficus carica: Nat. Order, Urticaceæ)

The Fig carries us back in imagination to that glorious time when the Grecians fought for freedom and their native land; when Miltiades conquered the haughty Persian, who had contemptuously declared that he would make the figs of Attica, his own by conquest; and when the noble Aristides shed over his native country that halo of virtue which excited the emulation of succeeding generations, and obtained for Greece that proud preeminence which has made her the admiration of posterity. Then were the names of Marathon, Thermopylæ, and Platæa, first inscribed upon the records of fame, where they will remain as long as the heart of man contains a chord which vibrates with pride and exultation at the sweet words “Home and Liberty.”

Fig-Sycamore,—Desire of Holy Communion

(Ficus sycamorus: Nat. Order, Urticaceæ)

How gently does the Sycamore chide us for our coldness to Jesus! It seems to say, “O cold, ungrateful men, how different are your hearts from the heart of him who was once concealed among my branches, to behold the Messiah, whom he already knew, but whom he was too humble to approach! How the heart of Zacheus throbbed with love and gratitude when the Saviour promised to enter his dwelling, and bring salvation with Him!”
    Jesus often wishes to enter your hearts; but how different a welcome He meets there! Yet listen to the Sycamore’s tale of love, and it will teach you with what joy and reverence you should receive your Saviour.

Filbert,—Hidden Merit

(Corylus avellana: Nat. Order, Cupuliferæ)

Lying unheeded along the wayside, the Filbert is often passed unnoticed by the traveller, while he hastens to gather some more conspicuous but less delicious fruit.
    So the world treats those persons whose reserve hides the natural beauty and sweetness of their minds from casual observers, who often despise those real treasures, while they are fascinated by a gay and bright exterior.


(Iris sambucina: Nat. Order, Iridaceæ)

How lovely is the Fleur-de-Lys, and how many records of high and noble deeds are associated with its graceful flowers! By the majesty of its stem, it is the symbol of dignity and valour; while by the beauty of its petals, it is the emblem of a pure and candid soul. In heaven, it adorns the blue mantle of the Queen of Angels; it was she who gave it to the land she loves so dearly; and now, for centuries, it has shone upon the banner of France. It waved above her legions when her sainted king won, in Palestine, a martyr’s crown; and when, led by Heaven, a simple maiden rescued her country from a foreign chain. Heaven loves the Fleur-de-Lys, and showers its special blessings on it; for through all the changes of centuries, it has never ceased to bloom beside St. Peter’s Chair.

Flax,—Domestic Industry

(Linum usitatissimum: Nat. Order, Linaceæ)

In ancient times, the distaff was a common household implement, and spinning formed the occupation of every woman,—an occupation which high-born and even royal ladies did not disdain to share. We know too that the Sacred Mother of God spun and wove garments for her Divine Son and her holy spouse, and that she disdained not to perform the humble household offices of their lowly home, leaving to Christian maids and matrons an example which, in these days of fashion and frivolity, is but too seldom followed.


(Myosotis palustris: Nat. Order, Boragineæ)

The Forget-me-not requires no hot-house to force it into bloom; it springs up and flourishes even in the poorest soil, its lively blue flower giving an air of gaiety to all around. It is a meet emblem of affection, which needs not worldly greatness to call it into being; decays not when fortune’s favours are withheld; and with its magic power, gilds the dark cloud of sorrow, and makes the heavy burden light to bear.


(Digitalis: Nat. Order, Scrophularineæ)

Thou wouldst teach us a lesson, flower; thou wouldst tell us that the mortal who is insincere, is unworthy of love or respect, and that, like thy bright but poisonous flowers, he may deceive for a time, but he can never be long trusted or esteemed.


(Fuchsia: Nat. Order, Onagraceæ)

Though of comparatively recent date in our country, the Fuchsia, with its beautiful leaves and graceful drooping flowers, is an object of general admiration; yet, unlike most popular favourites, it looks as simple, and bends its fair head as meekly now amid its honours, as when it flourished in obscurity amid its native wilds.


(Fumaria: Nat. Order, Fumariaceæ)

Flying our pleasant gardens, the Fumitory, emblem of discontent, puts forth in our groves and woodlands its pale-hued, smoky-scented flowers.
    Thus, dissatisfied with itself, and displeased with all around , the discontented mind avoids the society of men, finds shadows in the brightest scenes, and discovers neither beauty nor goodness upon earth. How much wiser to resign ourselves into the hands of God’s lovmg providence, and to accept with humble submission whatever His paternal heart ordains!

Furze,—Grateful Admiration of the Works of God

(Ulex europæns: Nat. Order, Leguminosæ)

It is recorded that when Linnæus first beheld the Furze with its golden blossoms, he prostrated himself in a transport of admiration, praising and thanking God for having created it.
    Let us, like that eminent lover of nature, pay the grateful tribute of our hearts to the beneficent Being who, in his lavish gifts to these wild flowers, speaks to us of the innumerable benedictions conferred upon ourselves.