Madonna lily

It enchants with its brilliant white and stood for paganism until the Middle Ages. Here we explain why this lily is now called Madonna lily.
The spicy scented Madonna lily (Lilium candidum) is one of the oldest cultivated ornamental plants: it was grown as long ago as the middle of the third millennium BC. It is first mentioned in Egyptian texts dating from around 2500 BC. And illustrations of it are found on vases from Santorini (1500 BC). Assyrian reliefs from Nineveh also show this elegant lily, which was regarded as a symbol of purity, innocence, pride and gentility.
Christians associated it with paganism well into the Middle Ages, before finally succumbing to its beauty and adopting it as a symbol of purity and innocence. Suddenly, saints and church fathers were often depicted with lilies as a symbol of their virtuousness. And Christian legends describe how the Archangel Gabriel held a white lily in his hand when he appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus.
Madonna lilies were usually depicted without a stamen and filaments to underline their association with innocence. This species of lily finally came to be known as the Mary or Madonna flower, which also explains the popular name of «Madonna lily». Its botanical name (Lilium candidum) was conferred by Carl von Linné, a natural scientist, in 1753. «Candidum» means «brilliant white».

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