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Cherry Wood: Significance and History

Cherry Wood and Mary

Significance and History

Q: What is the significance and/or history of cherry wood as it relates to Mary?

A: The cherry tree is not among the popular Marian trees such as cedar, palm, cypress, olive, acorn, rose bush and pomegranate. However, there are authors like Richard of St. Laurent who liken Mary to many trees. Richard mentions thirty-three different trees (De laudibus..., lib. 12). Conrad of Megenberg only twelve (lib. nat.). Sources for these allegories are the Canticle of Canticles, Sirach 24 and Isaiah 60 where, alas, the cherry tree is not mentioned. There are a few examples of paintings where Mary is linked to a cherry tree, for example, Master of "Paradiesgertelein" (1410) with Mary sitting between the tree of life bearing cherries and the tree of death without any fruit of any kind. We know of a cherry tree in Kleinschadowite (Bohemia), victim of frost and ice in 1709, which budded forth and bore fruit after a Marian image had been affixed to its trunk. According to a Tyrolean legend (Bozen), Our Lady would have a special preference for cherry trees and chooses them for apparitions or as dwelling place for her image. Although without solid factual support, two hypotheses might be offered:

1. A symbolic connection between life and fruitfulness of the cherry tree and Mary might be ventured

2. In the history of devotion, trees are frequently mentioned as dwelling places of Marian images, either as place where they are found or where Our Lady wants the image to be affixed. The type of tree corresponds frequently to the local vegetation.

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