Mary Gardens - Theology of the Garden
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Nature’s unveiling of divine love
Did you know that dating back to the time of St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals and ecology) in the twelfth century, faithful Christians treasured the beauty of every flower and plant as a sign of God’s love?
Meditating on the magnificence of each
flower, we honor the virtues of faith lived by Jesus and Our
Blessed Mother Mary and find relevance in our own spiritual
life. We model Mary’s humility as we gaze upon the humble
violet, sing her praises with petunias and share in her sorrow
of Jesus’ redemptive suffering as we lovingly behold the passion
flower. Many of the plants and flowers can be easily grown in
your garden and are perpetual reminders each season, of the
glory of heaven on earth and the everlasting life to come.
Faith and Flowers
Faith and Flowers is dedicated to selling beautiful hand-delivered bouquets, investing in the culture of life and spreading devotion to the flowers of Our Blessed Mother, Mary Gardens and their history and significance to our Christian faith.
In 1951, the international Mary Garden movement was founded by engineer John Stogdell Stokes, Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He dedicated more than fifty years of his life to establishing a library of work to help educate others about Mary’s flowers and to inspire the rest of the world to join in this beautiful devotion.
As stated in his historical research, the flowers of Our Lady are flowers which were named as symbols of the life, virtues and mysteries of the Blessed Virgin and her Divine Son in the popular oral religious traditions of the medieval country sides.
Many of the flower names were replaced over time with secular common names. Through divine providence they were rediscovered and recorded by folklorists and botanists.
Stokes explains, “Through Alfred Dowling's Plants of the Sacred Nativity (1900) and Judith Smith's The Mary Calendar (1930) these flower names were once more brought to the public. Learning of them from English monastery gardens, Frances Crane Lillie in 1932 established the first public Mary Garden in the United States of some 50 flowers beside the Angelus Tower built by her several years previously for St. Joseph's Church in Woods Hole, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
In the Woods Hole Mary Garden, where the flowers were identified by plant markers and were listed in a leaflet available in the small library room at the base of the Angelus tower, visitors were introduced to another dimension of the medieval piety of the Age of Faith of the great cathedrals.”
Through Mary’s symbolic flowers, many Christians were able to restart this devotion at their church altars and at their homes in their rosaries and gardens.
Inspired by the Woods Hole Mary Garden, the Mary Garden project was started in 1951 to further the research into the flowers of Our Lady in various countries; and - through lectures, articles, press releases and exhibits - to inspire the planting of Mary Gardens, large or small, at homes, schools, parishes and shrines. The work was subsequently moved to Idaho and then to New England.
This collection of work spanning five decades is available in part at: www.mgardens.org. John Stokes bequeathed his entire collection and research to the Marian Library in Dayton, Ohio, the leading Marian Institution. The Marian Library manages his collection and will be making this historical record available in its entirety for all to use in their research in the near future. For more information, you can reach the Marian Library at 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469, (937) 229-1000.
Help spread the devotion
It is our desire through this social network to help educate people about Mary’s flowers and gardens and that upon learning about it, individuals will be personally moved to begin the devotion by starting a Mary Garden at their home and spreading it among others in their own communities.
Enter your Mary Garden photo and story of your family’s traditions on how you honor Mary in your home and in your garden. Please Click Here to send us your story and your photos.