Lilly Meaning – General Features

Highly valued in Egypt, Minoan Crete and Mycenae as a decorative element, the lily as a symbolism later crystallized through various perceptions. One of them is from the myth of Hera, in which lilies dripped from her milk on the ground sprouting lilies while the Milky Way was emerging. Aphrodite / Venus, who despised the plant and cursed it to resemble a phallus of a donkey.

Later, the lily was a major motif in heraldry. The poets called the voice of cicadas and muses “gentle as a lily.”

“It’s a white lily of other flowers
softer, more wonderful, but also quickly wilted.
So too, the man fades away,
when the mercy of God does not shine upon him.”

Hobberg, 1675


The lily acquires meaning in the Christian faith as an immaculate, chaste symbol and pure love. Archangel Favriel is most often depicted with a lily in his hand, as well as Joseph and Mary’s parents – Joachim and Anna.

In Christ’s word on the mountain, the “poet’s lilies” are praised as a pure connection with God – because of the never-questioning trust. Hence the symbol of many saints: Anthony of Padua, Dominicus, Philipus Neri, Vincent Ferrer, Catherine of Siena, Philomena.

It is said that an angel presented a lily to the Frankish king Clovis I (481-511), who baptized his people in 496; from 1179 it adorned the coat of arms of the kings of France. Through Louis XI it found itself on the coat of arms of the Medici, and from there on the coats of arms of Florence and Tuscany. The Bourbon lily differs from the Florentine lily in that the latter has stamens.


Essential in heraldry is the motif “Fleur de lis” (the lily as an emblem of royal power in France), because lilies “are royal flowers … mostly because they look like a scepter or because snakes run away from lilies, refreshing to heart fragrance ”(Bockler, 1688).

Fleur de lis

In folklore symbolism, the lily is the personification not only of purity (eg in religious processions), but also of the “pale death”. According to folklore, a mysterious lily appeared in the monasteries announcing the death of a monk (Corway, Hildesheim, Wroclaw). The folk song about the “three lilies” planted on the tomb also refers to the symbols of death.

The heraldic “Fleur de lis” is still widespread: among the many cities that use it as a symbol, there are some whose names sound like the word “lily”, such as Lilendal, Finland and Lelystad, the Netherlands. In heraldic terminology, this is called “crucifixion.”

Other European examples of municipal coats of arms bearing the Fleur de lis include Lincoln in England, Morchin in Spain, Wiesbaden in Germany, Skirniewice in Poland and Jurbarkas in Lithuania. The Swiss municipality of Schlieren and the Estonian municipality of Jõelähtme also have coat flannels.

In Malta, the city of Santa Venus has three red floras on its flag and coat of arms. They are derived from an arch that was part of the Wignacourt aqueduct, which had three sculpted “Fleur de lis” on top, as they were the heraldic symbols of Alof de Wignacourt, the Grand Master who financed its building. Another suburb that developed in the area became known as Fleur de Lis, and also has a red “Fleur de lis” on its flag and coat of arms.

“Fleur de lis” (or flower de Luce) can be labeled a slave as punishment for certain crimes in French Louisiana.
For example, the Louisiana Code Noir (1724) states:

“XXXII. The escaped slave, who will continue to be one month from the day he is sentenced to justice, will be cut off his ears and marked with a flower de luce on his shoulder: and a second offense of the same nature, committed for one month from the day of its announcement, it will be fenced and marked with the flower de luce on the other arm. In the third crime, he will die. “

The Dark Code is a control agreement obtained in Louisiana in 1724 from other French settlements around the world designed to represent the country’s slave population. These guidelines included marking slaves with escape as a running discipline.

Sculpture of Aphrodite


In ancient times, it was constantly used as a royal emblem, although different cultures interpreted its meaning in different ways.
Galician coins show the first western designs that look like modern “Fleur de lis”.
To the east, it was found on the golden helmet of a Scythian king discovered in the Ak-Burun mound and stored in the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg.

The Matur Museum in India has a statue of Kanishka the Great, the emperor of the Kushan dynasty in 127–151 AD, with four modern “Fleur de lis” symbols in a square emblem, repeated twice at the lower end of his a small sword.