The colour named after a flower
Violets (viola) add a lovely vibrant colour to a border and look especially at home in a cottage garden. They are found in woodlands and under hedges, but are also shrouded in a wonderful history…
There is a romantic, natural sweet essence to violets that can only be smelled once before they steal your olfactory senses and is often used in perfumes..
Violets have also been used in herbal medicines to relieve insomnia, depression and headaches..The flowers are edible and can be used in salads, as a garnish and candied (which looks particularly good in cake decoration). They were also found in Napoleon’s locket when he died.
Violets are also called “the flower of Modesty” because it hides its flower within heart-shaped leaves.
In medieval times, violets were referred to as “Our Lady’s Modesty” because it was believed that it first blossomed when the Virgin Mary proclaimed the “Magnificat” to the Archangel Gabriel, when he was sent to tell her that she was to bear the Son of God.
Medieval monks referred to the violet as “Viola Tricolor” or Herb of the Trinity (herba Trinitas) due to symbol of the Trinity seen in its three colours
Perhaps the most interesting and poignant symbolism associated with the Violet is that of the Blessed Virgin’s Humility. According to tradition, violets were originally white in colour. Seeing Mary, filled with such sorrow for her son nailed and suffering on the cross, all violets turned purple in respect to her mourning Christ’s death.
It was said in medieval times, this was one reason why the colour purple or “violet” became associated with mourning and to this day the church uses violet for funerals and for its seasons of Lenten and Advent penance and awaiting.
Mary is often seen in Renaissance imagery holding the baby Jesus with or amidst violets to symbolize her humility or perhaps as a premonition of his impending death at Calvary