The art of flowers at the service of the liturgy
The liturgical floral art is considered as a parable of divine love: the flowers, in fact, are quietly discreet within a noisy world, fragile in a violent world, naturally beautiful in a sophisticated world, faithful in their rebirth in a insecure world, seemingly useless in an effective and productive world. The birth of the floral art for the liturgy can be traced back to about thirty years ago, from an intuition of Genevieve Vacherot. His personal thought of speaking of God through flowers soon became a common belief among all those in the world who serve in the Church. Through flowers and in general the natural elements, in fact, one can let God speak because He is able to transform, instruct and console with the contemplation of a bouquet, but at the same time manifest prayers of sadness, expectation, adoration, praise or intercession.
How to decorate: the arrangement of flowers
From a practical point of view, it is a matter of decorating with flowers a liturgical space (the baptistery, the alter, the Easter candle, the cross or the ambo) in view of a special occasion (a baptism, a funeral, an adoration , a Sunday or a wedding), using the available material (moss, flowers, stumps, cups, vases, shrub barks). The arrangement of the flowers (which may be different in color, number and quality) will vary according to needs and tastes: they may be S-shaped bouquets, L-shaped bouquets, triangular, round, straight, and so on. The important thing is that the composition becomes part of a circle whose objective is to enhance the altar of creation from the artistic point of view. Floral art at the service of the liturgy, like any other art, serves no purpose and is given to all. Genevieve Vacherot emphasizes that flowers mean, and do not decorate, since the church represents the place where everything must be meaningful and beautiful. The florist who intends to use flowers in the liturgical field must set himself the objective of presenting nature, in the sense of making it present, so that it too can take part in the liturgical action through its own language, a gesture of gift, transfiguration, gratitude, welcome and Eucharistic life. Ultimately, it is a question of making available to God a space that allows him to showcase the beauty of creation. Through floral composition, the modern assembly is called to enter into Eucharistic life.
But what does the liturgy say about the presence of flowers? It allows everyone to access, through realities so to speak, visible, to the invisible, which is thus able to meet us. The liturgical bouquet is one of such visible realities: to speak of symbolism, for the bouquet, would however be inaccurate, since the symbol constitutes a real ritual action. The flowers in the church can be used at any time: during the solemnity of the Marian feasts, the feasts of the Lord and the feasts of the apostles; during Pentecost, Advent, the liturgical year, Lent, the Easter triduum, the memories of the saints or Easter. Furthermore, the compositions can be placed in correspondence with the altar or Marian icons, but also on the place of baptism, of the anointing of the sick, of reconciliation, of the Eucharist or of the funeral. Specifically, to put into practice the liturgical floral art it is necessary to select those elements that will provide the main line, establishing the structure of the bouquet. When we talk about selecting, we refer to knowing how to eliminate. It takes a lot of attention in this respect: the chosen branches, for example, must be elegant as a calligrapher's sign, and make sense.
Liturgical floral art: The difficult art of stripping
The difficult art of stripping plays a fundamental role, as the overabundance is an obstacle, preventing the bouquet from being free and breathing. Among the plant elements there must be space, so as to facilitate the passage of light, which will then highlight the shape based on daylight or night lighting. In the focal point of the bouquet, the void will indicate acceptance and availability, towards a brother or towards the Lord. The flowers during Lent undoubtedly evoke desire and expectation, the emptiness that makes the Easter fullness wait. The same thing happens during Advent: for this reason a Marian bouquet must be made by keeping a concave line, with two main lines forming two open, waiting hands. In short, we must take into account that the bouquet should be considered a space of silence, open, which allows us to pray to God and meditate. Obviously, the florist will not be able not to evaluate the architectural style of the church and the specific point in which the bouquet will be placed. In short, it is not said that any celebratory pole should be flowered and highlighted, as it is evident that a floral composition intended for a basilica will be different from that intended for a chapel as regards position, volumes and mass. It will also be important to take into account the colors of paints, floors, friezes, marbles, stained-glass windows, etc., so as to match the bouquet.