The symbolism and use of lilies in Memento Mori photography.
Cabinet card of funeral spray including photograph of the deceased. | Lake Geneva, Wisconsin c.1910 | Funeral spray consists of two bundles of calla lilies, a floral arrangement depicting an anchor and another arrangement that reads "PAPA". On the card itself someone has written over the word Papa with pencil to make it more prominent and legible, this card was procured with the pencil markings.
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.”
In many cultures and traditions, lilies, including calla lilies, are often associated with death and funerals. Unlike most other flowers, the lily never goes dormant and grows natively all over the world. This strength combined with its beauty, have made it a favorite in stories in many cultures.
Lilies are seen as a symbol of the soul leaving the body and ascending to heaven, and they are often used in funeral arrangements and as a gesture of sympathy. The white color of lilies is associated with purity and innocence, which is why they are often used to symbolize the souls of the departed, who are believed to have gone to a purer and more innocent place.
The flower is often depicted in images of the Virgin Mary. For millions of Christians all over the world, calla lilies are a symbol of rebirth, resurrection and the idea of eternal life. Lilies are often used as a symbol of the Annunciation, the event in which the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God. The lily is said to symbolize Mary's purity and her willingness to accept God's will.