The world of art and literature are full of stories and images that speak of the beauty and majesty of the Easter lily. One of the most famous biblical references is the Sermon on the Mount, when Christ told his listeners, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin; and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
Often called the "white-robed apostles of hope," lilies were found growing in the garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprang up where drops of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and distress. Christian churches continue this tradition at Easter by banking their altars and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter lilies to commemorate the Resurrection and hope of life everlasting.
The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the Mother of the Christ child. In other paintings, saints are pictured bringing vases full of white lilies to Mary and the Infant Jesus.
The legend is told that when Mary's tomb was visited three days after her burial, it was found empty save for bunches of majestic white lilies. Early writers and artists made the lily the emblem of the Annunciation and the Resurrection of the Virgin. The pure white petals signified her spotless body and the golden anthers ... her soul glowing with heavenly light.
In yet another expression of womanhood, lilies had a significant presence in the paradise of Adam and Eve. Tradition has it that when Eve left the Garden of Eden she shed real tears of repentance, and from those remorseful tears sprung up lilies.