Catholic CornucopiadCheney

Letter T

The Catholic Language of Flowers

Tansy,—Eternal Happiness

(Tanacetum: Nat. Order, Compositæ)

The word “Tansy” signifies undying, and tells us of those undying flowers, those eternal delights, which will be ours in the kingdom to which God calls us. Shall we not gladly obey this call, and exclaim with St. Ignatius, “How vile and base the earth appears, when I contemplate heaven!”

Ten-Week Stock,—Promptitude

(Mathiola annua: Nat. Order, Cruciferæ)

This flower, the emblem of promptitude, recalls to our thoughts the prompt obedience with which Mary ever fulfilled the commands of God. May we not reflect upon our own conduct, and have we not cause to reproach ourselves with having but too often neglected to obey the injunctions of Heaven, or at least with having, by our hesitation and delays, robbed our obedience of its chief merit?


(Carduus: Nat. Order, Compositæ)

Sometimes in our rambles, we are stopped by the sting of something at our feet, and on bending down, we perceive it to be a thistle. Thus do the stings of conscience make men pause in the dangerous or evil paths to which pleasure has allured them.

Scotch Thistle,—Scotland

(Carduus eiphorus: Nat. Order, Compositæ)

As the beautiful Rose is dear to England, and the fair Lily to France, so the Thistle is not less dear to the brave sons of Scotland. For many centuries, it has been their national emblem, and not without reason did they choose it.
    During a long and bloody war, the Scots had possession of a citadel, which they were as desirous of retaining, as their enemies were of wresting it out of their hands. It was a dark wintry night; the foe had resolved to surprise the place, and to take by stratagem what they had failed to take by force.
    All was ready, and the soldiers lay in ambuscade beneath the walls; the garrison slumbered, like the Romans of old when the Gauls attempted to seize the Capitol. But at this crisis, Heaven was pleased not to abandon Scotland. One of the enemy’s soldiers trod on a thistle, as he was preparing to scale the walls. A cry of pain escaped him, which awoke one of the sentinels; he, like another Manlius, instantly gave the alarm, and the fortress was saved.
    The grateful Scots adopted the friendly plant as their emblem. And now that the thistle is entwined with the Rose and the Shamrock, it has acquired new beauty: for in their union, the sister kingdoms are far more prosperous and blest, than in the brightest days of their independence.


(Thymus: Nat. Order, Labiatæ)

The Thyme is an emblem of remembrance; for as the fragrance of the Thyme endures long after its flowers are faded, so does the remembrance of the past waft its sweet perfume over our present hours. It brings again before us the pleasant scenes of childhood; in a moment, we seem to live once more the happy years so long past; the loved forms are conjured up, the kind words, so long since spoken, still echo in our hearts, and the tender smiles still beam upon us. How many souls have been preserved from evil, or won back to the path of virtue, by the remembrance of their childhood spent in holiness and peace, of the prayers breathed at a mother’s knee, of a first Communion made with all the fervour of an innocent and loving young heart!

Touch-Me-Not,—Unwillingness to Bear Reproof

(Impatiens noli-me-tangere: Nat. Order, Balsamineæ)

This plant, which resents the slightest touch, resembles those persons who cannot bear a reproof, and who, when told of their faults, close their ears to the voice of reason.

Traveller’s Joy,—Home

(Clematis vitalba: Nat. Order, Ranunculaceæ)

What sensations does the weary traveller experience when he beholds the Clematis, with its beautiful clusters of silvery blossoms, peeping in at the windows and round the door-way of some cottage! Tears fill his eyes as he thinks of his own dear home, which was perhaps adorned with the same sweet flowers; and his heart beats with pleasure at the hopes and thoughts which crowd upon him.
    But if our earthly home excites these feelings of affection, with what joy will our hearts overflow when we reach the portals of our eternal home, and the bright flowers of heaven shall bloom before us!

Trefoil,—Poor But Happy

(Trifolium: Nat. Order, Leguminosæ)

This simple little flower lives unnoticed and contemned by men on account of its simplicity; yet it lives perfectly happy, for it cares not for the regard of men. Thus it was with the Holy Family at Nazareth; they also lived unnoticed and alone; but though poor and despised for their lowliness, they were perfectly happy, for their God was with them, and His love and peace encircled their humble dwelling.


(Tecoma: Nat. Order, Bignoniaceæ)

Not less vain and perishable than my flowers, is the voice of praise; and yet to the ears of men, it has a music of which they never weary. Ye mortals who gaze upon me, say, are my flowers more fair and bright when you look with admiration on them? or do they fade when you are silent in their praise? When will you be indifferent to the tongues of men, and learn to live beneath the holy eyes of God?


(Tulipa: Nat. Order, Tulipaceæ)

Presuming on its beauty and its rich colours, the Tulip rears its gaudy head above the humble flowers that bloom beside it; yet who does not find the simple violet, or the fragrant mignonette, a thousand times more charming?