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All About Mary

My Garden Prays

"Fair Olive Tree". As we consider the beautiful form and foliage of the miniature olive tree, we recall the numerous symbols from the Old Testament perceived by the Church Fathers as figures of Mary: "cedar on Lebanon"..."cypress on Mount Herman"..."palm tree in Engedi"..."rosebush in Jericho"..."fair olive tree in the field"..."plane tree growing beside the water"; later also seen as Immaculate Conception symbols. We pray that in emulating Immaculate Mary we may ever be open to and inceasingly filled with the graces of sanctification.

Trinity. The symbolism of the three-petaled shamrock leaf in our dish Mary Garden reminds us that the Trinity was first revealed to the world through the Annunciation of the Angel to Mary; and that in her person she mirrors the Trinity as Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. We pray that we may ever live by the will of the Father, the teaching of the Son, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Star of Bethlehem. We rejoice in the imaginative folk legend that, after the miraculous star led the Wise Men of the Gentile nations to Bethlehem, it burst into a myriad of fragments falling to earth as flowers - rooted Stars of Bethlehem - surrounding the manger where lay the infant Savior of the World whom they had come to adore. A similar legend relates that all the stars of heaven came down from heaven as buttercups, surrounding the manger, that they too might adore the Christ Child on earth. May we adore Christ in the exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Mary's Sword of Sorrow. The sword-like foliage quickens us to reflection on Simeon's prophecy to Mary at the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple that not only was the infant Jesus in her arms "to be a sign which was to be contradicted" - in confirmation of the prophecy of Isaiah of the Redeemer's suffering and death - but that also a sword of immolative sorrow would pierce her own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed. We reflect that Mary from that moment on, is considered, through her fidelity to the anticipatory grace (as with the grace of her Immaculate Conception) from Christ's coming immolation, to have lived continuously the immolative agony of her mother's sorrowful heart in her foreknowedge of the Passion and Cross - in Egypt, Nazareth and Galilee - as co-redemptrix of the world with her immolated Son.

Tears of Mary. At the foot of the Cross, Christ's blood drops, symbolized by many flowers, were mingled with the Sorrowful Mother's tears, as together they participated in the Redemption of the world. We pray that we ourselves may participate, through the daily offering of our sufferings and sorrows, in the immolation of both Jesus and Mary, to make up what is wanting for the fulfillment in history of the coming of God's Kingdom - from the victory over evil already won on Golgotha.

Mother-of-Thousands. The reproductive generation of numerous tiny plants from the mother plant's stems symbolizes for us the many hearts in which Christ is given birth through Mary's distribution of the graces of conversion in her mediational spiritual motherhood. We rejoice over the gift of faith in our hearts, and pray that through our prayers and works of mercy, and through Mary's mediation, this gift may be extended widely to others.

Mary's Heart. Beholding the red heart-shaped buds of this plant, we reflect that Mary, our Spiritual Mother, through the love of her Immaculate Heart for us, ever presents our needs to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As we pray with Jesus to the Father, "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done" may we ever seek this "by, with, in and for" Mary - mindful of her loving fidelity to the graces of her divinely appointed role as advocate, intercessor and mediatrix of all grace for the glorification of the Father and the building of his earthly Kingdom.

Our Lady's Mantle. As we behold the mantle-shaped leaves of this plant, we pray that Mary, Queen of Angels, will give us spiritual protection by encompassing us with her heavenly angelic mantle. And as we irrigate our dish Mary Garden, we note that water falling on the fine hairy surfaces of the leaves forms little glistening droplets, for which reason this plant was also known as "Our Lady's Tears" - illustrative of the multiple symbolism of many plants.

Rosary Vine. The strings of heart-shaped leaves of the Rosary Vine remind us to pray our Aves in emulation of Mary, as we meditate on her life and mysteries through the symbolism of the other Flowers of Our Lady - "that by imitating what they contain, we may obtain what they promise, through Christ, our Lord."

Prayer Plant. The folding together of the leaves of this plant in "prayer" each night reminds us that the plants of the Mary Garden are themselves a prayer. As Rev. James J. Galvin, C.SS.R. writes in "My Garden Prays," Perpetual Help, February 1952:

"Gardens should pray! Gardens should remind children of their Mother. Gardens should be holy places that keep minds fresh and unsullied as Madonna lilies. Gardens should chime with names that ring like the Litany of Loreto. And gardens, if they are truly Mary Gardens, will naturally lead to Christ."

These flower meditations are according to the spirit and example of "Flowers of Mary" by Rev. Louis Gemminger (1894).

Copyright Mary's Gardens 1996

The John Stokes and Mary's Garden collection was transferred to the Marian Library in May 2013. In addition to his archives, manuscripts, artwork, and personal library, John S. Stokes also donated his extensive website. It was transferred to the Marian Library in early 2010. This particular entry is archived content original to Stokes' Mary's Gardens website. It is possible that some text, hyperlinks, etc. are outdated.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with


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