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Symbolism in religion and art

In the Middle Ages the symbols of lily and fleur-de-lis (lis is French for "lily") overlapped considerably in Christian religious art. Michel Pastoureau, the historian, says that until about 1300 they were found in depictions of Jesus, but gradually they took on Marian symbolism and were associated with the Song of Solomon's "lily among thorns" (lilium inter spinas), understood as a reference to Mary. Other scripture and religious literature in which the lily symbolizes purity and chastity also helped establish the flower as an iconographic attribute of the Virgin. It was also believed that the fleur-de-lis represented the Holy Trinity.[25][26] In medieval England, from the mid-12th century, a noblewoman's seal often showed the lady with a fleur-de-lis, drawing on the Marian connotations of "female virtue and spirituality".[27] Images of Mary holding the flower first appeared in the 11th century on coins issued by cathedrals dedicated to her, and next on the seals of cathedral chapters, starting with Notre Dame de Paris in 1146. A standard portrayal was of Mary carrying the flower in her right hand, just as she is shown in that church's Virgin of Paris statue (with lily), and in the centre of the stained glass rose window (with fleur-de-lis sceptre) above its main entrance. The flowers may be "simple fleurons, sometimes garden lilies, sometimes genuine heraldic fleurs-de-lis".[17] As attributes of the Madonna,

hey are often seen in pictures of the Annunciation, notably in those of Sandro Botticelli and Filippo Lippi. Lippi also uses both flowers in other related contexts: for instance, in his Madonna in the Forest. The three petals of the heraldic design reflect a widespread association with the Holy Trinity, with the band on the bottom symbolizing Mary. The tradition says that without Mary you can not understand the Trinity since it was she who bore The Son.[28] A tradition going back to 14th century France[13] added onto the earlier belief that they also represented faith, wisdom and chivalry. "Flower of light" symbolism has sometimes been understood from the archaic variant fleur-de-luce (see Latin lux, luc- = "light"), but the Oxford English Dictionary suggests this arose from the spelling, not from the etymology. The Middle Ages (adjectival forms: medieval, mediaeval, and medi?val) is the period of European history encompassing the 5th to the 15th centuries, normally marked from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire (the end of Classical Antiquity) until the beginning of the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery, the periods which ushered in the Modern Era. The medieval period thus is the mid-time of the traditional division of Western history into Classical, Medieval, and Modern periods; moreover, the Middle Ages usually is divided into the Early Middle Ages, the High Middle Ages, and the Late Middle Ages.