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Purple Passion Flower

The purple passion flower is also known as flor da las cinco llagas (flower of five wounds). The Jesuits believe this is the flower that grew on the cross in a St. Francis of Assisi vision. Each part of the flower is said to represent the instruments of the Passion of Christ. Five petals and five sepals symbolize the 10 faithful apostles, not including Judas for his betrayal or Peter for denying knowing Jesus. The fringe stands for the crown of thorns, and the five stamens denote the five wounds. The ovary depicts the hammer and the three styles, the nails.

The fruit of the passion flower, or maypop, was believed by some Indians to cure insomnia, but when the Jesuits saw Indians eating the fruit, they interpreted it to mean the Indians were hungry for Christianity. The passion flower is the state flower of Tennessee.

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