(The). There is a tradition that the lily sprang from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from Paradise.
Lily in Christian art is an emblem of chastity, innocence, and purity. In pictures of the Annunciation, Gabriel is sometimes represented as carrying a lily-branch, while a vase containing a lily stands before the Virgin, who is kneeling in prayer. St. Joseph holds a lily-branch in his hand, to show that his wife Mary was always the virgin.
Lily. (Emblem of France.) Tasso, in his Jerusalem Delivered, terms the French Gigli d'oro (golden lilies). It is said the people were commonly called Liliarts, and the kingdom Lilium in the time of Philippe le Bel, Charles VIII., and Louis XII. They were so called from the fleur-de-lys, the emblem of France.
“I saw my country's lily torn.”
(A Frenchman is speaking.)
“The burghers of Ghent were bound by solemn oath not to make war upon the lilies.” —Millington: Heraldry, i.
Lily of France. The device of Clovis was three black toads, but an aged hermit of Joye-en-valle saw a miraculous light stream one night into his cell, and an angel appeared to him holding a shield of wonderful beauty; its colour was azure, and on it were emblazoned three gold lilies that shone like stars, which the hermit was commanded to give to Queen Clotilde. Scarcely had the angel vanished when Clotilde entered, and, receiving the celestial shield, gave it to her royal husband, whose arms were everywhere victorious. (See Les Petits Bollandistes, vol. vi. p. 426.)
“Un hermite apporta à la ditte royne yn drapdazur à Trois Flevrs de Lis d'or, que l'ange luy auoit donnee et le deliura la ditte royne a son mary le roy Clovis pour le porter comme ses armes en lieu qu'il les portoit d'or à trois crapavz de sable.” —Chifflet
The kings of France were called “Lords of the Silver Lilies.”
Florence is called “The City of Lilies.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894