Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fleur-di-Lis: Flower of the Catholic City

Visitors to the original KIC blog have noticed that its design featured the ancient Catholic symbol, the “fleur-di-lis” (meaning “flower of the lily”). A few years ago, when the first of my books, the Keeping It Catholic Home Education Guides, was published, I knew I wanted the flower-like emblem somehow incorporated on the book’s front cover. As readers of my books will see, these “flowers” not only grace the front cover but also are found in miniature next to the inside page numbers.

For some reason, the fleur-di-lis always captivated me. I recall that, as a child, I once asked a classmate, blithely sporting the fleur-di-lis on his Boy Scout uniform, what it represented. He shrugged and said, "I guess it means faith, hope and charity." Only years later did I discover the "flower of the lily" is an ancient symbol with various meanings.

The simple yet gracious “fleur-de-lis” (sometimes spelled "fleur-de-lys" or "fleur-di-lys") becomes even more intriguing when one discovers the
Great Monarch prophecies. In a word, those prophecies relate that, with the power and the grace of God, a future Angelic Pastor (a pope), together with prince who recovers the “crown of lilies,” will restore the Catholic City – meaning the Church on earth.

In a doubting world where even Catholics question Church doctrine and sneer at prophecy, the truth still remains that the Church recognizes the validity of prophecy both inside and outside of the Scriptures. However, the Church views with great caution all prophecies outside of Scripture, unless such prophecies come from a Church approved apparition. While we cannot look to "private" prophetic revelations in the same way as we do Tradition and Scripture, neither should we despise them or dismiss them out-of-hand. Furthermore – and as the Church knows – a true prophecy does not foretell every minute detail of a particular person, event or series of events. It does, however, give enough information so that, when the prophecy finally unfolds, it is recognized as the “fait accompli.”

Prophecy is found throughout the Old Testament in regard to the Messiah. But the time of prophecy is not over, as the Apocalypse makes clear. Prophecy plays a great part in the complete story of Fatima, which does not fall into the realm of private revelation but rather public. A Catholic who is, as time passes, more often able to pray and meditate on the Church’s doctrine and dogmas, and who is fortunate to acquire what Hilaire Belloc called “the Catholic conscience” of history, will recognize the relation between Fatima (which is approved by the Church as “worthy of belief”) and the Great Monarch prophecies (which are not, strictly speaking, “Church approved”).

Our Lady, whose words can never be doubted, foretold at Fatima the persecution of the world if her wishes were not heeded. On the other hand, the Great Monarch prophecies indicate that an unsought prince will arrive on the scene of history during a great crisis of the Church and the world. (In fact, the prophecies say more of him than they do the Angelic Pastor.) Finally, it seems that the Great Monarch prophecies are tied to events about which Our Lady of Fatima warned if the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart was continually delayed by the reigning pope and the bishops.

Reasonable minds recognize that the consecration of Russia, exactly as Our Lady asked for it, has never been made. At some future date, however, a pope will order the bishops to join him and make this most necessary act. We know it will happen because Our Lady, acting as God’s messenger and our intercessor, foretold it. In the meantime, a sinful world waits, and it is punished –– by “wars and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father,” just as Our Lady of Fatima also foretold. If current world events continue unchecked, the near future may very well include another great world war, worse than this world has ever suffered.

When one studies Our Lady's warnings along with the Great Monarch prophecies, a picture of the fairly immediate future becomes clearer. It is not a pretty picture, and it never will be until a reigning pope and the bishops in union with him follow Our Lady's directions to the letter and consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As for the Great Monarch himself, throughout the ages there have been a respectable number of saints and other noteworthy individuals who foresaw this forthcoming sovereign, thereby giving the rest of us a serious reason to pause and reflect. Throughout most of the prophecies of this future king, the "flower of the lily" is interwoven.

In historic tradition, the "fleur-de-lis" is associated with the Catholic French monarchy as the symbol of perfection, light, and life. Ancient legend relates that an angel presented a golden lily to Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks; the lily was a symbol of the king's purification upon his conversion to Catholicism. Yet another legend has it that Clovis took the symbol as his own when, during a battle, water-lilies showed him how to safely cross a river. Whether fact or legend, it cannot be denied that the “fleur-di-lis” and French royalty go hand-in-hand.

In the 12th century, it was either King Louis VI or King Louis VII (historians disagree about which king it was) who became the first French monarch to display the fleur-de-lis on his shield. As time passed, a French knight was known to stand high when his monarch bestowed upon him the right to also use in his coat-of-arms the favored fleur-di-lis. Two hundred years later, the insignia of many noble families included the lily. (A knight's surcoat, upon which was embroidered his noble family’s insignia, was worn over the coat of mail, which brought forth the term "coat-of-arms.") The English monarchs also took the lovely lily for their own coats-of-arms so as to make aggravatingly clear their claim to the French throne.

To all to this earthly glory, the three-petaled "fleur-di-lis" possesses even greater symbolism because it also represents:

--the Holy Trinity (symbolizing the Mystery of one God in three Divine Persons)

--the Blessed Virgin Mary (symbolizing her perpetual purity and her privileges of being chosen by the Trinity to be the Mother of God)

--Virgin saints and martyrs, especially the great St. Jeanne d’Arc, the Maid of Orleans, first Patroness of France. (Later, St. Terese the Little Flower was also given the latter honor.)

The King of France, Charles VII, granted arms and nobility to St. Jeanne (and her family) during her lifetime. Although she was given the right, the saint herself never used the “fleur-di-lis” symbol on her banner or coat of arms. But not even many Catholics know that, after the saint’s martyrdom, the King of France – Charles VII - the king for whom Jeanne sacrificed everything - bestowed upon her family and their descendants (both male and female) the unheard-of privilege of possessing and passing on the surname of “Du Lys” (“of the Lily”). Unfortunately, for monetary reasons, the right for females of St. Jeanne’s line to pass on the Du Lys name was revoked in 1614.

St. Jeanne’s mission from God was unique and it is precisely because of its uniqueness that it still mystifies to this very day. Why didn’t God chose a man instead? It would have made things so much easier – from a human standpoint.

I often wonder if St. Jeanne’s great sacrifice was given not only for the France of her day but also for the France of ours – a disgraced, unfaithful France who no longer wishes to be known as the “first daughter of the Church.” I wonder if St. Jeanne died a most terrible death not only for Charles VII but for one of his descendants – the unknown Catholic Monarch who will one day help the Angelic Pastor restore the Catholic City.

Tradition. History. Legend. Prophecy. And so Keeping It Catholic is honored to take as its own the ancient Catholic symbol of the fleur-di-lis, representative of God and so many of His saints. After the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the "flower of the lily" is a truly fitting symbol of the Catholic City.

(First posted March 29, 2006 to the original blog, Keeping It Catholic - with Marianna Bartold)

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