Upper Rhenish Master, Little Garden of Paradise (c. 15th century)


In addition to having their own rubrics, flowers have rich traditions in Catholicism, history, art, culture, and music! Below are relevant rubrics (also on the Rubrics page), and some notes from my own floral research.


Altar flowers

Flowers on the altar should be either fresh and cut, or if they are artificial, of the highest quality. Potted/rooted plants should not be placed on the altar, as the cut plants symbolize a sacrificed life. 1

Flowers around the church

Flowers around the church may be fresh and cut, artificial, or potted. The flowers should be beautiful and harmonious with the church and the vestments, when possible. 2

Flowers for the wedding party

In all matters, but particularly for this point, consult the rules and expectations of the church where you intend to marry.

Flower histories

Fleurs de Marie-Jacqueline: Catholic Church flower lore, film reviews, and more. (Blog). Accessed November 20, 2019.

Foley, Daniel J. “Medieval Mary Garden.” University of Dayton, 1953,

Gemminger, Louis. Flowers of Mary, 1858.

Mary Gardens: Flowers for Our Lady.Fish Eaters. Accessed 29 July 2019.

Wells, D., and I. Patterson. 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names. Algonquin Books, 1997,

My bouquet

My bridal bouquet (description from my wedding program):

The cornflower 3 4 is one of Germany’s national symbols. They are associated with faithfulness and the Habsburg monarchy. The last ruling Habsburgs, Karl and Zita, are on their way to sainthood, and are two of the only (almost) saints to be venerated specifically for the vocation of marriage. Rue 5 is the national herb of Lithuania, and commonly used by Lithuanian brides for hair wreaths. […] During the Medieval Era, it became popular to dedicate a garden to Mary, and over time, numerous plants became associated with her. The flowers we have chosen stem from this tradition. Roses 6 7 and Sweet Williams both have a Marian connection, and a connection to the bride’s and groom’s names (Rose of Sharon, and William). Anemones 8 have an historical connection to both Mary and the Crusades. (Post-wedding note: I was unable to get sweet williams, so I added daises. 9)


  1. Schulte, Augustin Joseph. “Altar Vase.” In Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. ↩︎

  2. McClinton, Katharine Morrison. Flower Arrangement in the Church. Morehouse-Gorham Company, 1944. ↩︎

  3. Kandeler, Riklef, and Wolfram R. Ullrich. “Symbolism of Plants: Examples from European-Mediterranean Culture Presented with Biology and History of Art SEPTEMBER: Cornflower.Journal of Experimental Botany, vol. 60, no. 12, Aug. 2009, pp. 3297–99., doi: 10.1093/jxb/erp247. ↩︎

  4. Giloi, E. Monarchy, Myth, and Material Culture in Germany 1750-1950. Cambridge University Press, 2011,]( ↩︎

  5. Ruta Graveolens.” Wikipedia, 5 Jan. 2019. Wikipedia, ↩︎

  6. Foley, Daniel J. “Medieval Mary Garden.” University of Dayton, 1953, ↩︎

  7. Dawson, John William, and Religious Tract Society (Great Britain). Egypt and Syria: Their Physical Features in Relation to Bible History. London : The Religious Tract Society, 1885. Internet Archive, ↩︎

  8. Wells, D., and I. Patterson. 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names. Algonquin Books, 1997. ↩︎

  9. Johnson, Ben. “Michaelmas, 29th September, and the Customs and Traditions Associated with Michaelmas Day.Historic UK, ↩︎