Knock Mary Garden

– John S. Stokes Jr., The Knock Shrine Journal, 1985 (Rev 1997)

The Mary Garden at the Knock Shrine of Our Lady, together with the profuse planting of flowers throughout the shrine grounds, serves as a fitting setting and preparation for meditation on the silent symbolism of Mary's appearance at Knock with the Heavenly Lamb, Angels, St. Joseph and St. John on a wet Thursday evening, August 21st, 1879.

Meditation on the shapes, colors, fragrance and growth of the flowers which have been seen through the centuries as mirrors of Mary's person, life, excellences and mysteries attunes us for meditation on the silent symbolism of her hands, of the rose at her forehead, and of her crown, through which she communicated with us in her appearance as heavenly Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, as represented in the sculptured tableau of her appearance at the Knock parish church gable.

In this, she revealed how in heaven she channels with her hands our rising prayers into incorporation with the sacrificial offering of the Heavenly Lamb who was Slain, which is then taken up by circulating angels for transport by them to the interior of the Trinity, from which these angels then return with petitioned and gratuitous graces - channeled, again, by the hands of Mary, Angels' Queen, for distribution on earth by the Angelic heirarchies.

In preparation for entering into the spiritual flow of the Tableau, the flowers of the Mary Garden quicken reflection on the Mysteries of the Rosary, while the roses throughout the garden symbolize the subtle spiritual flowers which emerge from our lips as rising vehicles for the transport of the Paters and Aves of our Rosary prayers to Our Lady's hands in heaven - giving rise to the name "Rosary" for the Psalter of Our Lady (cf. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910).

For those new to the medieval symbolism of flowers, markers in the Mary Garden beds give the old flower names which serve as keys to their forms and colors symbolizing Our Lady's Mysteries of the Rosary.

Thus, the upwards facing trumpet of the Madonna or Annunciation Lily symbolizes the pure, humble, baptismal opening of ourselves to the grace and spirit of the Annunciation; and the blowing of the thistle seed in the wind symbolizes, for our emulation, the graceful steps taken by Mary, with Our Lady's Slippers on her feet, in the Visitation.

The golden radiance of Our Lady's Bedstraw symbolizes the mystical descent of heavenly glory, and the birth of the Christ Child within, us as we celebrate the Nativity. The blooms of the Christmas Rose recall the legend of the offering of the first roses to Mary and Jesus, at the manger. The light of Our Lady's Candles, and whiteness of Candmas Bells, symbolize our purification, and illumination by the Light to the Gentiles as we meditate on the Presentation. The pointed spears of iris foliage recall Simeon's prophecy of the sword of sorrow to pierce Mary's soul as Mother of the suffering Redeemer.

The descent of the Divine Wisdom, as manifested at the Finding of Jesus in the Temple teaching the Elders, is symbolized by the Rod of Jesse, on whose flower the Spirit of God comes to rest, and also by the Rose of Jericho and Fair Olive Tree of Wisdom taking root in an honourable people

The numerous Flowers of the Passion symbolize Christ's bloody sweat of the Agony in the Garden; the lash, the Scourging at the Pillar; the reed and crown of thorns, the Mocking of Christ; the Carrying of the Cross; and the Crucifixion - through which we are ascetically to mortify our will, bodily desires and intellect, and to embrace the carrying of our crosses, so that through our own mystical crucifixion, our soul, in union with the piercing of Mary's soul with the Sword of Sorrows, may be freed to extend heavenward with Christ as he commends his spirit into his Father's hands.

The many flower symbols of the glorious Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and of the Assumption and Coronation of Mary, quicken us to strive so that our spiritual heart, mind and strength may be liberated and purified to rise mystically with our souls that they may be filled with grace, light, word and power, as we promote instrumentally, in a union of love with Blessed Mary Immaculate, God's work of Salvation, Conversion, Renewal and Kingdom on earth.

Thus attuned to the Rosary mysteries, we return to offer our prayers to Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, at the sculptured tableau in the central Apparition Gable of the Shrine, and to her Divine Son and Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Reprinted with permission.


The John Stokes and Mary's Garden collection was transferred to the Marian Library in May 2013. In addition to his archives, manuscripts, artwork, and personal library, John S. Stokes also donated his extensive website. It was transferred to the Marian Library in 2010. This particular entry is archived content original to Stokes' Mary's Gardens website. It is possible that some text, hyperlinks, etc. are outdated.

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