Catholic CornucopiadCheney

Letter L

The Catholic Language of Flowers


(Cytisus laburnum: Nat. Order, Leguminosæ)

The Laburnum bends towards the earth, as if, acknowledging its obligations to the generous soil, it would deposit thereon its beautiful and graceful flowers. Thus a grateful heart, ever mindful of the favours which it has received, seeks to lay at the feet of its benefactor, all its richest arid most precious possessions.

Lady’s Mantle,—Protection

(Alchemilla: Nat. Order, Rosaceæ)

Happy were the days of Catholic England, when man was attentive to the tribute of silent homage which Nature pays to the Creator of all things.
    Thus the modest flower so sweetly named “Our Lady’s Mantle,” served to enkindle in the breast of many an honest peasant, sentiments of gratitude for the protection which Mary never refuses to those who love her.


(Delphinium: Nat. Order, Ranunculaceæ)

As long as the weather is propitious, the Larkspur blooms; but though it fades not beneath the frown of the autumnal sky, it bends to the winter’s blast; and, hiding its drooping head in the bosom of its mother earth, awaits the return of spring, at whose summons it again bursts into life, and, expanding its corolla, rejoices in its new birth.
    This little flower seems placed in the world by our Heavenly Father, to give us a lesson on Discretion, and to remind us that a false bravery is as bad as cowardice. But even while it thus admonishes us, it appears to bid us not yield too easily before the storms and tempests of life, yet not to persevere in an obstinate opposition where that opposition is vain.


(Cerasus lauro-cerasus: Nat. Order, Rosaceæ)

It is the Laurel that crowns those who fight and conquer. It is the prize for which they have laboured long and earnestly. At length, their desire is satIsfied; the portals of Heaven are thrown open; the heroic soul enters, and is clothed in a robe of brilliant white. The Laurel is gained, the crown is given, and upon it the glad soul reads, in golden letters, “Victory.”

Laurestinus,—Generous Fidelity to God

(Viburnum tinus: Nat. Order, Caprifoliaceæ)

By looking on this plant, we learn an excellent lesson. In the gloomiest season, it puts forth blossoms, as if desirous to tell us that we should as generously cultivate the flowers of virtue, when the soul is cold and drear, as when the Sun of Justice graciously sheds His rays upon it.

Lavender,—The Memory of the Dead

(Lavandula: Nat. Order, Labiatæ)

Sweet Lavender, whose petals wear the hues of mourning, and whose fragrance fills our homes long after thy short-lived flowers have perished, thou shalt be our humble tribute to the memory of the dead. For though Heaven has claimed again the flowers it lent but for a time to earth, the remembrance of their virtues hovers like sweet perfume round us; still do we love to fancy their gentle presence near us, and deep within our inmost hearts shall we for ever cherish the names of the loved and holy dead.


(Citrus limonum: Nat. Order, Aurantiaceæ)

The sourness of the Lemon deters many from tasting it and thus their self-indulgence is punished by the loss of a delightful and refreshing fruit. There are also many persons who, in a spiritual sense, are much more foolish; for, finding that duty is at first bitter to one who has tasted too freely of the poisonous sweets of life, and trying to drown, in the bustle of the world, that “still, small voice,” by which God speaks to the soul,—they never know how blest are those who drink cheerfully of the Lord’s chalice. For those generous souls are rewarded, even in this world, by the tranquillity of heart which ever attends the performance of duty; and besides the bright Heaven that awaits them, they have the sweet consciousness that they are pleasing God.


(Syringa vulgaris: Nat. Order, Jasmineæ)

The beautiful and fragrant, but simple flowers of the Lilac, render it an appropriate emblem of that sweet virtue which our Lord would teach us, when He said: “Learn of Me; for I am meek and humble of heart.”

White Lilac,—Purity

(Syringa vulgaris: Nat. Order, Jasmineæ)

In spotless robes of untarnished brightness, purity shines amid the darksome scenes of this sin-clouded valley. So are the White Lilac’s delicate flowers unrivalled in their snowy beauty; but they languish and fade beneath the gentlest touch.

Lily,—Mary Immaculate

(Lilium candidum: Nat. Order, Tulipaceæ)

The Lily seems to belong wholly to Mary. In a drawing-room, it looks out of place; but it receives new beauty on the altar of her who, for her immaculate purity, is styled the Lily of Israel.

Lily of the Field,—Trust in Providence

(Lilium chalcedonicum: Nat. Order, Tulipaceæ)

O ye mortals, whose hearts are disquieted by solicitude for the things of earth, look upon me, and learn a lesson! As each summer returns, I put forth my bright flowers; the warm sun cheers and the dews of heaven refresh me, though no human hand tends me; and I bloom unseen and unnoticed, save by Him who said: “Behold the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.”

Lily of the Valley,—Reserve

(Convallaria: Nat. Order, Smilaceæ)

The Lily of the Valley, which hides its blossoms lest a touch or a blast of wind should sully their whiteness, is emblematic of that modest reserve which is so amiable, and so necessary a safeguard to our hearts.


(Tilia europæa: Nat. Order, Tiliaceæ)

Mythology relates a story of a worthy pair named Philemon and Baucis, who, having shown hospitality to Jupiter on the occasion of one of his visits to earth, were rewarded by being established priest and priestess of a magnificent temple, which suddenly arose at the command of the god; and we are told that at their death, in order that they might escape the corruption which is the lot of all mortals, they were transformed, the one into an oak, the other into a linden.
    How different are the rewards which Christianity Offers to those who seek to serve God and their neighbour!

Linnæa,,—Tribute to Linnæus

(Linnæa,: Nat. Order, Caprifoliaceæ)

This little plant, which is said to have been an especial favourite with the great Linnæus, and which is now honoured with his name, shall record our humble admiration of that great naturalist, and our gratitude to him who spent his lifetime in the study of our loved flowers, and who has left us, as a precious legacy, the accumulated stores of his knowledge.
    The Linnæa is a humble little trailing plant, which ventures not to exhale its fragrance save in the night’s dark hours, and which wreathes its evergreen leaves and pale pink flower-bells upon the bosom of the earth. It is the more appropriate for us, lowly and unknown as we are; and we would entwine with its garlands, recollections of him who raised the study of botany to its present place among its sister-sciences, and first made a path through these pleasant, flower-decked fields of knowledge, which so many other feet have since delighted to tread.


(Lobelia: Nat. Order, Lobeliaceæ)

The Lobelia resembles gossip; for, apparently simple and pleasing, it seems to mingle harmlessly with the other plants, while, in reality, it is distilling an acrid and subtle poison.
    It is thus that a spirit of gossip often poisons the happiness of families, and leads the way to a train of evils, which disturb the peace and union of many a happy home.


(Lysimachia: Nat. Order, Primulaceæ)

The Loosestrife has received its botanic name Lysimachia from Lysimachus, who, from a low station, rose to the favour of Alexander the Great, and, after the death of that monarch, became king of Thrace. But though success for some time attended his arms, his cruel vindictive disposition, and, above all, his unjust treatment of his son, raised many enemies against him, and finally plunged him into a war which cost him his life. He was slain at the battle of Curopedion, in Phrygia; and it is said, that after the engagement, his body was recognised only by a faithful and favourite dog which would not leave it. Thus he who in life had abused his power, was left in death to the guardianship of a dog!

Love-lies-bleeding,—Jesus Suffering

(Amarantus melancholicus: Nat. Order, Amarantaceæ)

Yea, sweet flower, I will place thee in my bosom, and cherish thee as a sweet remembrance of that Love of loves who watered with His crimson life-blood, Golgotha’s steep ascent.


(Medicago sativa: Nat. Order, Leguminosæ)

There is a magic spell in thy name, Lucerne; it speaks of hope to the patriot, and gives the slave courage to break his chains.
    For, in fancy, it leads us to that lake which so often reechoed the acclamations of the brave Swiss. Imagination repeoples the silent shore with a crowd of patriots, each one of whom is a hero. We seem to hear the voice of Tell animating his countrymen to throw off the tyrant’s yoke; and again sounds of exultation are borne upon the breeze, as with honest pride, her toil-stained sons proclaim that Switzerland is free.
    But while the sounds of victory still ring in our ears, let us remember that there is a worse slavery than that which ends with life; and, filled with gratitude to Him who broke our chains, let us preserve ever as our most precious inheritance, the sweet liberty of the children of God.


(Lupinus: Nat. Order, Leguminosæ)

The changeful Lupine, which takes almost all colours, shall be to us a warning against that fickle and capricious disposition which wearies of the calm routine of duty, is ever desirous of change, and, always dissatisfied with what it has, aspires continually after what it has not.

Lychnis,—Evening Prayer

(Lychnis: Nat. Order, Caryophyllaceæ)

When the solemn tones of the vesper-ben break the silence of evening, the white Lychnis sends up a sweet fragrance to the Throne on High, thus mutely thanking its Creator. And shall not we also offer Him the incense of our prayers? Oh, yes; the Lychnis and the vesper-bell alike join in inviting us to prayer. In that still hour, when half mankind are sunk in slumber, or revelling in the brilliant follies of the world, we will hasten to lay at the feet of our God, the humble tribute of our adoration, gratitude, and love.