Botanical and Horticulture Photography PALM SYMBOLISM 3

Botanical and Horticulture Photography PALM SYMBOLISM 3

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13. In a hymn of Saint Augustine, Jesus Christ

is designated the * Palma bellatorum,’ but,

perhaps by reason of its pagan origin, and also

because it has never been exclusively a religious

symbol, Christ as the conqueror of sin and death

is seldom depicted with the palm of victory.

In a few devotional Crucifixions palms are

placed crossways above the Saviour’s head, and

very rarely it is seen in the hand of the newlyrisen

Christ. He almost invariably carries instead

the banner of the Resurrection with a

scarlet cross upon a white ground. In one of

the rare representations where He holds a

palm He holds also the banner in His other

hand, and it is striking how the adding of the

lesser symbol to the greater, an error the early

masters carefully avoided, detracts from the

dignity of the figure.

14. In the four canonical gospels, palms as a symbol are only

mentioned once, the occasion being the entry of Jesus Christ

riding lowly upon an ass into Jerusalem before the feast of the Passover.

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15. ” They . . . took branches of palm trees and

went forth to meet Him, and cried Hosanna ! “

16. It was a respect paid to a reigning sovereign

and would support the accusation of the Jews

that He sought to make Himself a king.

17. The entry into Jerusalem is not an incident

in the life of Christ which is used for devotional

contemplation, though it occurred usually in

the series of scenes from the life of Christ which

were frequent in pre-Renaissance art, executed

in carved wood, ivory and marble; and in the

hands of the villagers of the Mount of Olives the

palms signified, of course, simply triumph, for

they had not yet gained the full Christian meaning

of victory through the Cross.

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18. In representations of the entry of Christ into

Jerusalem, the palms are merely a historical

detail, but it is a true symbol, in defiance of

the probable fact, when the Saviour Himself

is represented carrying the palm, as in the

Biblia Pauperum of 1440.’ It is then purely

a symbol of His triumph over sin and death.

(end of part 3)

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