Also known as the Easter Cross and the Funeral Cross
The Lily Cross
For a respectable period after a funeral, a Mourning Cross pendant or broach might be worn by the bereaved. This is usually a simple black Latin Cross made of polished onyx or jet.
But the lily is not only a funeral flower; it is also used for decorations at weddings, especially in bouquets, and at Easter.
In Christian art the lily represents purity, chastity, virtue and innocence. In pictures of the Annunciation, Gabriel sometimes carries a lily-branch, while a vase containing a lily stands before the Virgin Mary who is kneeling in prayer. St. Joseph holds a lily-branch in his hand to show that his wife Mary was a virgin.
Legend tells that the lily sprang from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from the Garden of Eden, and the white lily is also used to symbolise the Resurrection of Christ. It is used at funerals to symbolise the restoration of innocence to the soul.
A folklore belief is that planting lilies in a garden will protect against ghosts and evil spirits. Bringing it inside, however, is unlucky because of its association with death and funerals. Even so, it is popular as a wedding bouquet, especially the arum lily, since this symbolises beauty and pride.
Different coloured lilies also have different meanings:
- pink for talent
- yellow for falsehood and gaiety
- white for purity, modesty and youthful innocence
In heraldry, a cross is sometimes referred to as a Lily Cross when a more appropriate term would be a Fleur-de-lis Cross. This is common in French heraldry and is simply a cross adorned with lily petals at the arm-ends. The confusion arises from the word lis, which is French for lily.