Field Guide

Lily of the Valley

All lilies, and in particular the lily of the valley, are found in funerary art. They are symbols of innocence, puity, and virginity. They symbolize the surrender to God's will and grace, as in Matthew 6:28 -- "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin:..."

The lily of the valley has particular significance in funerary art, since it is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, thus symbolizing renewal and resurrection.

It is native to northern Europe and thus has no direct link to early biblical tales. However, the monks liked the delicate beauty of the plant and its medicinal properties so much that they named it lily of the valley in reference to the passage in the Song of Solomon 2:1-2: "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. / As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."

Taken from Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written and photographed by Douglas Keister, published by Gibbs Smith, Salt Lake City, 2004. This book is a must for every cemetery enthusiast!!!