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What is the religious meaning of the Passion Flower?

The Passion Flower Meaning

The passion flower (also passionflower) isn’t just beautiful. When it was discovered by 16th-century Christian missionaries in South America, the distinctive characteristics reminded them of the Passion of Christ, which led to its name. The term “passion”, in regards to Christianity, represents the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

There are many varieties of passion flowers, but the key elements that stood out to the missionaries are common to all.

Passion Flower

Passion flower meaning in Christianity

Christians refer to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ as The Passion. Jesus willingly gave up his own human life by being tortured. Death by crucifixion was a typical execution method at the time and involved hanging on a cross from a nail through each hand while not being able to bear full weight on the legs.

Jesus’ greatest gift to mankind was his willingness to give up his earthly life. His death and resurrection resulted in the eternal salvation of believers and is the foundation of Christianity.

Merriam Webster defines ‘passion‘ as intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction. This definition certainly describes Jesus’ mission to open the doors of salvation to his believers by paying the ultimate price with his life.

What does the Passion Flower symbolize?

The various elements of the passion flower came to symbolize aspects of Jesus’ passion – the final hours before his death. The passion is described in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Based on various sources, there’s not complete agreement of what the elements of the passion flower symbolize in regards to Jesus Christ’s passion, but there are four key elements that seem to have the most consensus:

The Apostles

Jesus had 12 apostles, but there were 10 who were faithful through his passion and death. Judas Iscariot betrayed him and Peter denied knowing him three times. The 10 petals symbolize the 10 faithful apostles.

The Crown of Thorns

Jesus was mocked by the crowd and they labeled him King of the Jews. They made a crown of thorns for his head, adding even more pain and humiliation.

The Nails

Three nails were used to fasten Jesus to the cross. One nail was driven through each hand to raise his arms, by which he hung. The third nail was driven through both feet.

The Sacred Wounds

The five sacred wounds of Jesus include the four wounds in his hands and feet (created by the three nails). The fifth wound was caused by the soldier who stabbed Jesus in his side with a spear.

Other references include additional symbolism. These include:

The Spear

As mentioned above. The soldier inflicted the fifth sacred wound with his spear. The spear is represented by the three-lobed leaves.

The Whip/Scourge

Jesus was beaten, although the exact instrument used isn’t certain. The weapon (whether a whip or scourge) is represented by the tendrils.

Jesus was offered a sponge dipped in vinegar to drink while he was hanging on the cross. This is represented by the stigma.

The Chalice

The chalice (cup) was used in the Last Supper. It held the wine that Jesus offered to the apostles as his promise (covenant) that his death was for the forgiveness of sins.

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:27-28 NIV

Credit to A.Vogel Plant Encyclopaedia for the plant terminology.

Passion Flower Crucifixion Story

The passion flower crucifixion story is a sad but beautiful representation of the greatest gift humankind will ever know. The passion flower calls to mind and reminds us of the final days of the life of Jesus Christ through his crucifixion and death. It seems like a terribly tragic story, except Christians know that Jesus’ death was only the beginning of the most beautiful event in history – the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 NIV

Grow Passion Flowers

Grow your own Passion Flower from seed!* Great for home or classroom! Adults or children!

Let your passion flower remind you of Jesus while you grow and nurture your plant.

Passion Flower - Grow Your Own

*This post may contain affiliate links. This is my full disclosure.

Photos by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels and Stéphane Juban on Unsplash

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