Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mary's Garden

Forget Me Not ~ Mary's Eyes

The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins calls The Virgin Mary the air we breathe. Perhaps another way of saying it is Mary creates an atmosphere around Jesus: humility, quiet reflection, maternal love, the clean heart of the Gospels, living in God's Word, endurance and fidelity, praise and faith. 

Prior to the Protestant Reformation all flowers in Europe had Marian names celebrating some aspect or virtue of the Mother of Jesus. Mary Gardens were planted to celebrate and keep that atmospheric sense sensually alive! 

The Medieval poem-prayer to the Virgin Mary: O Maria virgo pia - which accompanies the flower images here,  is sung by the group Anonymous 4. The group's name Anonymous suggests that the praises matter, not who the singers are. Here is the English translation of the Latin: 

O pious Virgin Mary,
full of the grace of God,
you are called Star of the Sea
giving comfort by your light.

Christ's body,

which you have truly carried in your womb,
is hallowed so that through it 
the serpent is completely doomed.

This is the body, O Mary,

born by you as virgin,
with which you were pregnant,
pious virgin, by the Holy Ghost.

This is the flesh

nailed to the yoke of the cross;
after its crucifixion it rose 
and returned life to the world.

Let us now praise 

Mary's wonderful Son
and sing this song
to the King of all kings.


  1. This is a most beautiful tribute to the Blessed Virgin and her lovely garden flowers. It tickles all my senses. I can even smell the flowers as they float by on the screen.

  2. Isn't it great! Imagine a culture that loved her so much they even named the flowers after her!

    1. And many still love and revere her today!

  3. Thank you for casting these common flowers in a new light. When I see patch of Foxglove, I will imagine lying among the flowers enveloped by Mary's warm glove and feel her love surround me. I feel at peace already.

  4. Gorgeous and splendidly done Father. I also am happy to see that your cover photo has Mary surrounded by many of these flowers. Is this your own garden to honor her?

    1. Yes, but if I had it to do over again I'd make it much bigger. It's a raised bed with stone walls. But her image is all over the retreat house property - inside and out. The whole place belongs to her. The Chapel has two titles: Chapel of the Incarnation AND Mother of God, Searcher of the Lost.

  5. In Medieval times the faithful saw Mary's attributes in flowers growing around them, naming them after her, so your choice of hymn is very fitting. Legends about the flowers developed as people sought to connect them with events from Mary's life and are quite interesting to read. They tell of the beauty and miracles associated with our Blessed Mother.

    1. Is there a particular book you're thinking that relates these legends? Folks would be very interested.

    2. There is a wonderful book called Mary's Flowers - Gardens Legends and Meditations by Vicenzina Krymow. I purchased it years ago when I was interested in creating a small Mary's Garden. There may be other books. -Kristina

  6. Some of the images seem to glow and radiate such beauty. I never knew these flowers had been named for Mary. It makes them all the more special.

  7. Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a simple gardener. No green thumb on this girl. But I happen to LOVE flowers. So, early in the springtime, I venture to Agway to buy a couple dozen petite marigolds in cracked, green, plastic containers. Yellow, orange, yellow, orange, yel (you get the idea.) This is one flower (truthfully the ONLY one) that I have had success growing. But, at second glance...what a special flower she is! The flower I grow is named after Mary! And what lovely similarities there are. Marigolds love bright rays of sunshine. Full sun even. Their wealth of gold, copper, and brass hues make me think of Mary's crown. Some varities have a fantastic aroma. French marigolds are elegant and eye-catching - their flowers demure. These hearty and cheerful flowers bloom brightly all of spring and summer, and continue to spread joy into autumn along my home's walkway. I can just imagine it. Every time I leave my home and then return, I will now take more time to savor the brilliant colors lining my path, and think of Mary. What a way to begin and end the day! What joy! My Walks With Mary. Now isn't that a lovely thought?

  8. I enjoy these posts so much Father Stephen. Not only did I learn something new, I feel a connection to the Blessed Virgin and can think about her through these beautiful flowers. I was waling past a planter of Morning Glory for sale and picked it up with thoughts of how lovely it was to feel surrounded by Our Lady's Mantle.

  9. Adrienne LytellMay 9, 2015 at 4:06 PM

    I just came across this video and thought how lovely it was. Having to see where it came from, I discovered your blog and will be sure to visit often. Beautifully done.