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Old 04-18-2009, 02:49 PM
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Default The Flower of Christs Passion

Who would have thought the Humble Passion Fruit, grows from a vine whose flowers (passion flowers) were named because they portrayed Symbology to The Passion of Christ

Several thousand miles is a long way from home. In fact, when you are in a very strange country without healthcare, regular food supplies or even somebody who shares your spiritual beliefs, it is a very long way from home indeed. If you are a very religious person, your faith would serve as a comfort under such privations, and any symbol of it you might come across in the new world around you might go some way to convincing you that it was not such a bad place after all.

The Story

So it was for the Jesuit missionaries of the 17th Century. They intended to spread the Catholic religion as far as the boundaries of the world would allow, and followed in the wake of the (then) all-conquering Spanish empire. As is well known, they fetched up in South America. This indeed was an alien world, full of totally unexpected animals and plants. Yet it was all, as they saw it, part of God's bountiful creation.

No more so was God's handiwork manifest than in one plant in particular. The passion flower is so called because it symbolised Christ's suffering on the cross. Passion flowers are climbing vines, probably distant relatives of the cucumber. They use tendrils to scramble up other plants, through the rainforest canopy and towards the light. Pretty unremarkable stuff, so far; there are countless examples of climbing plants. The flower, however, is a thing of unique and undisputed beauty, regardless of the provenance of its design.

The typical passion flower has five sepals1 and five petals, which are almost identical to the sepals. Immediately inside these is a structure with a shape found in no other flower. This corona is formed of two stacked rings of very fine filaments, often brightly coloured like the sepals and petals. Protruding from the centre of the corona is a small post, upon which rests the ovaries, five stamens2 and anthers3, and three stigmas4.

This is where the symbolism gets a little florid (if you'll pardon the expression). Unusually for such a story it has a well-documented and undisputed origin. Jacomo Bosio, a scholar, lived in Rome in 1609. He was working on a treatise upon the crucifixion when an Augustinian friar of Mexican birth showed him drawings of a remarkable flower. After much prevarication (and a rather liberal interpretation of the facts) he agreed to include the drawings of the flower in his book. The symbols of the Passion of Christ were many and varied. The unique corona represented the crown of thorns. The ten sepals and petals represented the Apostles (except Judas and Peter, who both distanced themselves from Christ prior to the crucifixion). The five anthers were the five wounds on Christ's body, and the three stigmas the nails. The leaves were the spear that pierced His side, and the tendrils the scourges that flayed His flesh. No doubt there were other symbols to be found, if one could be bothered to look for them.

But the fact remains that the passion flower is indeed an exquisitely beautiful plant. Moreover, counting the numbers of the components in the flower gives a striking example of how the Fibonacci numbers govern so much of plant growth and symmetry. Threes and fives are self-evident, but closer inspection reveals more subtle resonances. This Researcher counted 55 filaments to a corona ring on average, not the 72 thorns that the Jesuits held to be present in the crown. If God's handiwork is present in the passion flower, then it is indirectly expressed using the language of numbers.
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Old 04-18-2009, 02:58 PM
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