Flora, Goddess of Flowering Plants

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Flora, an ancient Goddess of the Sabines (and later the Romans) has two festivals in the spring – the Floralia from April 27 to May 3 and the Rosalia on May 23. The blossoms of Flora are welcomed by those who cherish flowers and those who rely on plants for sustenance. Moreover, this Goddess can counteract the fungal diseases, such as rust, that plagues plants.

After appealing to Flora for protection of the crops, Titus Tatius, King of the Sabines, built a temple to Flora, the Goddess of Flowering Plants on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. (He ruled jointly with Romulus, the First King of Rome.) Then after a prolonged drought Numa Pompilius, the Second King of Rome, held festivals in her honor.

For the Floralia, people decorate their homes and themselves with flowers. And, they don colorful clothing to imitate the flowers of spring. In gratitude of spring’s arrival, everyone makes offerings of milk and honey to Flora. On the last day of the festival, the priests would set loose hares and goats. They also would throw lupines, lentils and beans to celebrate the renewed fertility of the season.

During May, the month of the Dead, the Rosalia is held. Traditionally, Romans would place roses on graves. Today the custom is still to put roses on the graves of family members. Along with violets, these flowers represented life and death. As Ovid wrote in his “Fasti,” Flora generates flowers from the blood of the Dead. “Through me glory springs from their wound.”

Salve Flora Mater!
Goddess who blesses
The flowers
The plants
We greet You with color

Salve Flora Mater!
You gladden our hearts
We offer You
Milk and honey

Salve Flora Mater!
With roses and violets
We honor our Dead
From You comes rebirth

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One thought on “Flora, Goddess of Flowering Plants

  1. Pingback: Gods of the Month: April | Neptune's Dolphins

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