A Flower from Mary's Garden

Our Lady of Walsingham
from The Madonnas of Europe - Pilgrimates to the Great Marian Shrines of Europe
English edition (C) 2002, Ignatius Press

Catholics have a special affection for the spirit they identify as the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). Those who follow the yellow and white banner of papal Rome are quick to argue that the Mary they worship, with hyperdulia, is the Mother of God: Mary of Luke 1:27.

I agree with Catholic doctrine that Mary of Nazareth was indeed chosen by God to be the vessel in which the Logos—the Second Person of the Trinity—would be incarnated. That spirit being to whom the Catholic Church has attributed supernatural powers and authority that approach parity with those of our Sovereign God is not Mary of Scripture. She is a false deity; a pagan goddess known to practitioners of the ancient Babylonian Mystery Religion.

This Babylonian queen was not merely in character coincident with the Aphrodite of Greece and the Venus of Rome, but was, in point of fact, the historical original of that goddess that by the ancient world was regarded as the very embodiment of everything attractive in female form, and the perfection of female beauty; for Sanchuniathon assures us that Aphrodite or Venus was identical with Astarte, and Astarte being interpreted, is none other than "The woman that made towers or encompassing walls"--i.e., Semiramis. The Roman Venus, as is well known, was the Cyprian Venus, and the Venus of Cyprus is historically proved to have been derived from Babylon. Now, what in these circumstances might have been expected actually took place. If the child was to be adored, much more the mother. The mother, in point of fact, became the favourite object of worship.

How extraordinary, yea, frantic, was the devotion in the minds of the Babylonians to this goddess queen, is sufficiently proved by the statement of Herodotus, as to the way in which she required to be propitiated. That a whole people should ever have consented to such a custom as is there described, shows the amazing hold her worship must have gained over them. Nonnus, speaking of the same goddess, calls her "The hope of the whole world." (DIONUSIACA in BRYANT) It was the same goddess, as we have seen, who was worshipped at Ephesus, whom Demetrius the silversmith characterised as the goddess "whom all Asia and the world worshipped" (Acts 19:27). So great was the devotion to this goddess queen, not of the Babylonians only, but of the ancient world in general, that the fame of the exploits of Semiramis has, in history, cast the exploits of her husband Ninus or Nimrod, entirely into the shade. . . To justify this worship, the mother was raised to divinity as well as her son, and she was looked upon as destined to complete that bruising of the serpent's head, which it was easy, if such a thing was needed, to find abundant and plausible reasons for alleging that Ninus or Nimrod, the great Son, in his mortal life had only begun—Alexander Hilsop, The Mother of the Child, The Two Babylons, Chapter II Section III (My emphasis)

Over the years since that Pentecost day when Jesus Christ established His church, adherents of the pagan cult that came to be known as the Roman Catholic Church have been increasingly bold in their efforts to elevate the Babylonian goddess Semiramis, in the guise of the BVM, to the level of Almighty God. Though Catholics may deny charges that they worship the BVM, observation soon gives the lie to this defense. Witness, for example, the virtual omnipresence of statues and other symbols of the BVM in Catholic churches, homes and even automobile dashboards. Often, these visual representations of Semiramis are adorned with flowers, each type of which has a particular significance in Marian worship.

Mary Gardens of the Flowers of Our Lady named for the Blessed Virgin Mary dating back to medieval times bring a wealth of meanings distilled from flower imagery applied to Mary from Scripture by the Church Fathers and early liturgies; and also from "relics" and legends of Our Lady brought back to Europe from Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem by returning Crusaders and pilgrims; and from many other associations with Mary perceived by the eyes of faith.

Since many graces and spiritual illuminations have been received through the years as hearts have been raised to prayer while beholding the symbolical Flowers of Our Lady, and since Mary is immediately present by her action as Mediatrix of All Grace, wherever grace is distributed, the gift of a sense of her presence has been experienced by many in garden and countryside. As a consequence many flowers resembling the human form have come to be named as symbols of Mary's presence: "Mary", "The Virgin", "Mary's Face", "Our Lady by-the-Gate", "Our Lady in the Corn", "Our Lady of the Meadow", "Our Lady of the Lake", "Beautiful Lady"; along with indirect symbols of her presence such as the leaves of "Our Lady's Thumb" (prints), "Our Lady's Bite" (marks), etc.

Liturgically blest through a ritual of the Roman Rite, Mary Garden focal statues and their surrounding Flowers of Our Lady become holy objects which are vehicles, especially to those so disposed, of actual graces from the merits of Christ and the Church opening minds and elevating thoughts in religious reflection.—Adapted by The Eternal Word Television Network from: John S. Stokes Jr., An Historical Note © 1991, 1995 (My emphasis)

The marigold is one of the many flowers associated with Catholic Mary.

The marigold was called Mary's Gold by early Christians who placed the flowers around statues of Mary, offering the blossoms in place of coins. It was told that Mary used the blossoms as coins. A legend says that during the Flight into Egypt the Holy Family was accosted by a band of thieves. They took Mary's purse and when they opened it, marigolds fell out.-- Mary's Flowers, Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute

From another Catholic source, we learn that:

Marigold (calendula, "English" or "pot marigold" and common garden or "French marigold"): both flowers were used as gold-colored dye for wool. Named in honor of Mary ("Mary's gold"), symbolize her simplicity, domesticity. Marigold also sometimes denoted Mary's sorrows, perhaps because its strong scent was associated with burial ointments.-- Mary's flowers © 1999-2004 Women for Faith & Family

For some, flowers have meanings. The secular meanings assigned to marigolds are, interestingly, quite different from the Catholic understanding.

MARIGOLD: Affection, cruelty, grief, jealousy. The marigold was called Mary's Gold by early Christians who placed garlands of marigolds by statues of the Virgin Mary.--Sheri & Bob Stritof, Meaning of Flowers ©2004 About, Inc

Could this difference in symbolism between the Catholic and the secular symbolism of the marigold have its roots in ancient religion? Marigolds were featured in the practices and imagery of a number of pagan religions. The Aztec deity Xochiquetzal, for example, was closely associated with marigolds:

Goddess of flowers and romantic love depicted with flowers in her head-dress and as a young married woman with a wrap around skirt and a Quechquimitl, or highly decorated type of poncho. Xochiquetzal's flower was the marigold. Today in early November Mexico celebrates the day of the dead, or "All Souls", in which the ground is strewn with marigolds, combining old and new customs--Aztec Gods and Goddesses, Ellie Crystal's Metaphysical and Science Website

Some might point out that the unpleasant secular meanings assigned to marigolds hardly could be attributed to the flower's association with an ancient “Goddess of flowers and romantic love.” And so it would seem. When we learn a bit more about how Aztecs worshipped Xochiquetzal, however, the link becomes more apparent.

Xochiquetzal: Codex Borbonica, Paris

She was dressed in a blue tunic adorned with woven flowers made from delicate feather work. Her arms were open as in the form of a woman dancing. Her idol was placed on a tall alter . . .

A woman in the guise of Xochiquetzal was ritually killed and flayed and a priest wearing her skin would sit at the foot of the temple while area craftsmen dressed as monkeys, ocelots, dogs, coyotes, and jaguars would dance about her while she pretended to weave cloth. Each of the dancing craftsmen would carry in their hands a symbol of their craft, a painter his brush, etc.--Ibid.

Is the Marian worship of Catholicism a modern incarnation of the Mystery Religion of ancient Babylon? Is the symbolism of the marigold in Catholic and Aztec worship nothing more than historical coincidence? Let the reader answer these questions to his own satisfaction. God one day will judge both Catholics and Aztecs. Will they be found wanting? Could be.

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