The fascinating Passion Flower ("Passiflora") became known to the West around A.D. 1610, when an Augustinian friar named Emmanuel de Villegas visited Rome from Mexico, bringing drawings to Jacomo Bosio, a monk who was writing a treatise on Christ's Passion. Bosio looked at the drawings, but was tentative about including mention or drawings of them in his narrative as they looked so strange he figured the drawings given to him must be exaggerated. But more drawings came, and visiting Mexican Jesuits assured him that the flowers were quite real. He saw...
- In the flower's three bracts, a symbol of the Trinity
- In its corona filaments, the Crown of Thorns,
- In its stigma, the 3 nails and the column at which Christ was scourged.
- In the stamens as "five spots or stains of the hue of blood evidently setting forth five wounds received by our Lord on the Cross."
- The leaves of the plant are shaped like St. Longinus's spear, and their undersides bear round spots signifying the 30 pieces of silver for which Christ was betrayed by Judas.
- The flowers opened for 1 day, and then closed back up into their bell-like shapes. This, was similar to "in His infinite wisdom it pleases Him to create it thus, shut up and protected, as though to indicate that the wonderful mysteries of the Cross and of His Passion were to remain hidden from the heathen people of these countries until the time preordained by His highest Majesty."
There are over 600 species of Passiflora (some with edible fruits -- "passion fruit"), so they come in all colors -- white, yellow, pink, red, purple, blue. They are found all over the world. Passiflora is known in Spanish not only as "flor passionis," but as "flor de las cinco llagas" -- "flower of the five wounds."
From Mary Gardens