One day, whilst up on a mountainside, Jesus saw crowds streaming towards him ‘to be healed of their diseases’. He decided to preach to them and present his vision, setting out the right ways for people to approach God and to deal with others.

This lengthy address (Matthew Chapters 5-8) is known as the Sermon on the Mount.

In it, at Chapter 6 Verse 28, Jesus refers to “the lilies of the fields”. These words almost certainly do not refer to lilies, which are rare in the Holy Land. It is generally thought that they refer to the Anemone coronaria also known as the crown anemone, the Palestine anemone, and the windflower. These are wild flowers in Palestine that still grow near the Lake of Galilee.

The name ‘windflower’ is from the Greek ‘anemoi’ meaning ‘wind,’ and ‘one’ meaning ‘daughter of’ and comes from the Greek myth about Adonis who died in the arms of his beloved Aphrodite after being gored by a boar. His blood and her tears mingled on the ground and gave birth to the red anemones.

In the Amplified Bible (Classic Edition) in the Song of Solomon 5:13 it is stated that “His cheeks are like a bed of spices or balsam, like banks of sweet herbs yielding fragrance. His lips are like blood-red anemones.”

References to flowers are to be found in the descriptions of the crucifixion scenes. Anemones grew on Calvary (Golgotha) where Jesus was to be crucified. The red spots on the petals symbolize the blood that Christ shed during his crucifixion. The flowers became associated with the sorrow of the Virgin Mary, and afterwards in general with the notions of death and worry.

Although flowers were not commonly used in religious rites, they were used for decorative purposes and for their fragrance.