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fleur de lis

fleur de lis

Long ago, the Kings of France adopted the fleur de lis or lily, also known as the "Flower of Light," as an emblem. Fleur means flower in French and lis means lily. Philip II is depicted on his seal as sitting on his throne holding a fleur de lis staff as a symbol of his royalty. The Roman emperor Hadrian, centuries before Philip was crowned, minted a coin that represented France (Gaul) with a woman holding this lily flower. The religious significance of the three petals of the white flower motif is attributed to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity. As a personal talisman, it continues to be associated with purity and nobleness of purpose. Interestingly, the fleur de lis is an image not only commonly used in heraldry, but also is often used in decorative design, political symbols, or religious and artistic emblems. One modern historian indicates that the three petals of the fleur de lis represent the history of the French people: "Those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed."


The fleur-de-lis has long been associated with sovereignty, royalty, and power. It is found decorating Assyrian tiaras, scepters, and necklaces that date to the 3rd millennium BC. Later, the emblem was used by the kings of France as well as Florence and England (until 1801).


In medieval Europe, the fleur-de-lis was an emblem of purity and light. The flower is strongly associated with the Virgin Mary, who often holds the flower in her right hand in church and other iconography.


In a Christian context, the three stalks of the fleur-de-lis symbolize the Holy Trinity. They are further emblematic of faith, wisdom, and chivalry. The flower is strongly associated with the Virgin Mary, who is often depicted holding the flower.