Passion Flower (Passiflora) — Symbol of Christ’s Passion and Cross: including his scourging, crowning with thorns, three nails and five wounds.
—Reparation Through Flowers
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, particularly the numbers of its various flower parts, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially his crucifixion:
* The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
* The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
* The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
* The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.
* The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
* The 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
* The blue and white colours of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.
The flower has been given names related to this symbolism throughout Europe since that time. In Spain, it is known as espina de Cristo (“Christ’s thorn”). German names include Christus-Krone (“Christ’s crown”), Christus-Strauss (“Christ’s bouquet”), Dorn-Krone (“crown of thorns”), Jesus-Leiden (“Jesus’ passion”), Marter (“passion”) or Muttergottes-Stern (“Mother of God’s star”).
—Passionflower: Etymology and Names
The passion fruit is a vigorous, climbing vine that clings by tendrils to almost any support. It can grow 15 to 20 ft. per year once established and must have strong support.
late 12c., “sufferings of Christ on the Cross,” from O.Fr. passion, from L.L. passionem (nom. passio) “suffering, enduring,” from stem of L. pati “to suffer, endure,” from PIE base *pei- “to hurt” (cf. Skt. pijati “reviles, scorns,” Gk. pema “suffering, misery, woe,” O.E. feond “enemy, devil,” Goth. faian “to blame”). Sense extended to sufferings of martyrs, and suffering generally, by early 13c.; meaning “strong emotion, desire” is attested from late 14c., from L.L. use of passio to render Gk. pathos. Replaced O.E. þolung (used in glosses to render L. passio), lit. “suffering,” from þolian (v.) “to endure.”
For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also, and divinity.
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