Fleur d’Oranger = Jesus’ Bride

I wrote that I don’t know what flower that Mary holds so tenderly in her hand. crivelli suggested a very interesting and beautiful hypothesis: “the flower looks like a fleur d’oranger.”

Fleur d’oranger (“Orange blossom” in English) is not, in fact, a flower of an orange tree, Citrus sinensis, but of Citrus aurantium, a smaller and bitter fruits, widely used in perfume making.

The flowers are also not orange, but white:

The collage shows the flower, but also subtly hints at the centuries-old relationships between the flower and wedding ceremonies. In many countries the flower has become an indispensable feature of a bride’s flower headdress (in Russian, for example, the very name of this headdress is exactly fleur d’oranger.

From the ancient times the flower signified purity, chastity and modesty (in fact, it almost does not smell itself), as well as “physical health and spiritual vitality”; basically, all the good things in life.

I have this weird feeling of a blossoming deja vu: I do recall writing about this – my guess was that in the context of my story about Las Meninas (or more specifically, of Christ in the House Martha and Mary by Velazquez)… but can’t track it back 😦

In short, I was trying to bring another dimension of interpretations in this ‘mirror business’, namely, that the juxtaposition of pragmatic, secular Martha and and spiritual, unearthly Mary was used not only to address the issues of an ordinary congregation sheep. It was used as a symbol of the church itself, and its ministers, who are not doing anything ‘useful’, not engaged in any practical activities, but who, nevertheless, are closer to the Truth, and as such could also guide the others.

Another popular name of the church is the Bride of Christ. Was the Son of God married ekklēsia or not (and whether ‘she’ had a fleur d’oranger on the head during the wedding) is the subject of lengthy and sophisticated theological debates, which I wouldn’t venture here.

What is really interesting for me is the very possibility of such a radical re-interpretation of the “mirror”, its transformation from the attribute of sin, and even the evil force itself, into a symbol of light and sweetness, and righteous armor and weapon, and in such a short period of time (basically, in less than a century). That’s all terribly interesting!



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