ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Meaning of the Fleur-de-Lis Symbol

Updated on August 11, 2014
Fleur-de-lis back tattoo.
Fleur-de-lis back tattoo.

The Fleur-de-lis, or literally "flower of the lily", symbol can be found worldwide. Since it is used in so many ways and applications people often wonder what the true meaning is. As with many things in life there is no one "correct" interpretation of the Fleur-de-lis. There are however, several origins that are widely researched and accepted.

France & The French Monarchy

One of the earliest uses of the Fleur-de-lis was by the royal family of France, as is indicated by its French name. In his book France in the Middle Ages 987-1460: From Hugh Capet to Joan of Arc, historian Georges Duby says that the three leaves represent the three social classes of medieval society: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed. The Fleur-de-lis is still used today in France and areas that were settled by the French (Canada, Louisiana, Mississippi, etc.).

Mary holding Jesus in a Fleur-de-lis covered gown.
Mary holding Jesus in a Fleur-de-lis covered gown. | Source

Religious Symbolism

In relation to Christianity, the Fleur-de-lis represents purity and can be associated with the Virgin Mary. It is sometimes used in relation to Gabriel and the Annunciation, where he declares that Mary will conceive and give birth to Jesus. It is also said that the three petals and three sepals (the leaves below the petals) are a tribute to the trinity; that is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Candency Marks
Candency Marks | Source

Heraldry

The Fleur-de-lis appears in many, many, family coat of arms; it may even be in yours. It was also used as a cadency mark to differentiate between the birth order of male heirs. Common cadence marks were: label (eldest son), crescent (second son), molet (third son), martlet (fourth son), annulet (fifth son), Fleur-de-lis (sixth son), rose (seventh son), cross moline (eighth son), and octofoil (ninth son). These marks would be added to the coat of arms to show the hierarchy of the family.

The ceiling of Sainte Chapelle in Paris, France.
The ceiling of Sainte Chapelle in Paris, France. | Source

Architecture

The Fleur-de-lis is often used as a decorative element in architecture. It is commonly seen in Gothic and Gothic revival styles, as well as churches and places associated with royalty. The symbol often appears atop fences, in stained glass mosaics, or in friezes and cornices.

Sports

Most famously the Fleur-de-lis has been the logo for the New Orleans Saints football team since 1967. It is also used by the Pacific Coast League baseball team, the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Major League Soccer team, Montreal Impact, and the Italian football team, ACF Fiorentina. Georges St. Pierre, a Canadian Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, has a Fleur-de-lis tattooed on his leg.

Scouts Emblem
Scouts Emblem | Source

Scouting

Today the Fleur-de-lis is widely recognized as a symbol relating to the Boy Scouts, although it is really used by many scouting organizations. It was first adopted from the compass rose. The flower points upward (the right direction), neither left or right, which lead backwards. The petals are meant to represent the Scout Promise; Duty to God and Country, Duty to Self, Duty to Others.

A Continuing Piece of History

The origins of the Fleur-de-lis may not be completely clear but it is still being used and honored to this day.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

      Bill Tollefson 4 years ago from Southwest Florida

      I found your HUB to very interesting. I always wondered the origin. Thanks a lot for the knowledge.

    • profile image

      Hamid 4 years ago

      thanks for the info just wanted to the meaning of it be4 i get that tattooed

    • profile image

      flora d lease 4 years ago

      I always knew I loved this symbol.

    • profile image

      Southern Bell Ding A Ling Ding A Ling 4 years ago

      Good to know thanks. Keep up the info lots of sum fume out here. Lol

    • profile image

      Kk 4 years ago

      Love this symbol

    • profile image

      floflo 3 years ago

      The gsp tattoo is for the quebec. Its the sign of the quebecer flag wich is where gsp is born

    • profile image

      bobby 3 years ago

      Thanks I'm from louisiana and I had a feeling that's it meant something good

    • CelebrateUSA profile image

      Ken Kline 3 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      I learned allot. Have admire this and knew it to be French but didn't realize it also meant purity. Thank you for the history lesson.

    • profile image

      Ceusan Alina 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing!

    • JasonLicerioPH profile image

      Jason Licerio 2 years ago from Philippines

      Clarity for unknown symbols you see everywhere. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Carl de Borhegyi 2 years ago

      Read......

      DECODING THE FLEUR DE LIS:

      THE ORIGIN AND MEANING OF THE FLEUR DE LIS SYMBOL

      No publication, to my knowledge, either online or in print has ever presented visual evidence of the Old World Fleur de lis symbol encoded in pre-Columbian art as a symbol of immortality and divinity, linked to a trinity of creator gods, a Tree of Life, the planet Venus and a mushroom of immortality. The primary purpose of this study is to explore and illuminate previously unrecognized aspects of pre-Columbian iconography. That stated, while the similarities in appearance and meaning of these esoteric symbols may be entirely coincidental, logic would argue for consideration of the possibility of ancient transoceanic contact--a subject rife with contention. Pre-Columbian contacts with the ancient civilizations of the New World will continue to be a problem until it can be demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt that many traits of the New World civilizations had their origin in the Old World.

      The Fleur-de-lis emblem (“flower of the lily”) has long been a symbol of European monarchy and the sacred symbol of the Holy Trinity. Above, a painting of King Philippe II Augustus (1165-1223 C.E.), last King of the Franks and first King of France crowned with the Fleur de lis. Although the symbol known as the Fleur-de-Lis is perhaps best known through its association with French royalty, its origin in the New World, as I discovered is of far greater antiquity.

      Surprisingly, as I discovered, the ancient symbol that we have come to recognize as the Fleur de lis appears in the art of Mesoamerica at approximately the same time in history as the rise of the ancient Olmecs. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the emblem of the Fleur de Lis in Olmec art and iconography carries the same symbolism of lordship as in the Old World, linked to a Trinity of gods, a Tree of Life and it's forbidden fruit.

      In Mesoamerica, as in the Old World, the royal line of the king was considered to be of divine origin. Descendents of the Mesoamerican god-king Quetzalcoatl, and thus all kings or rulers, were identified with the resurrected Sun God, and the Maize God of Mesoamerican mythology.

    Click to Rate This Article