Saturday, January 07, 2006


Here is a fleur-de-lis, or lily-flower, a symbol of the City of Saint Louis, Missouri. This is a brick design, done at the just-opened River des Peres bikeway in south Saint Louis. The fleur-de-lis, best associated with the Kingdom of France, is used by the City to remind us of the area's French heritage. Just downstream from here was the mission of Father Gabriel Marest, a French Jesuit, who preached the Gospel to a band of Kaskaskias from 1700 to 1703.

The official flag of the City of Saint Louis, Missouri, with the fleur-de-lis near the center. Courtesy of the Flags of the World website. Click on flag image to go to the FOTW entry on St. Louis.

The fleur-de-lis (also spelled fleur-de-lys) is the ancient symbol of the Kingdom of France, its French usage going as far back as Clovis, although the symbol is probably older.

The symbol is used by numerous departments and municipalities in France, although significantly never by the French Republic itself. At the end of the Second Empire, Henri, Comte de Chambord, was offered the throne of France; but he insisted that the fleur-de-lis replace the Republican tricolor as the symbol of France. This was rejected, and France reverted to a Republic.

Saint Louis, New Orleans, Detroit, Louisville, and Quebec, Canada, all use the fleur-de-lis as symbols. In colonial times, these were closely linked as a part of the French Empire.

The fleur-de-lis is a symbol of the Bosniak people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is a common symbol in the south Slavic nations. As a governmental symbol, it is found throughout Portugal, Brazil, and in the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Aragon, and Castile and Leon. It is occasionally seen on municipal arms in Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It was a royal symbol of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England, the latter being a long-term claimant to the Throne of France. Some U.S. military units use this as a symbol.

The fleur-de-lis is used as the symbol of 'North' in a compass rose. It is from this use that it became a symbol of the Boy Scouts.

During the High Middle Ages, the three petals of the fleur-de-lis symbolized faith, wisdom and chivalry. It is also a symbol of purity, the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Holy Spirit.

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