Good Friday, Virginia

In 1974, I did my student teaching in Wythe County Virginia.  One of my friends from college lived in Wytheville.  Her family had lived there for generations.  As we drove around the county, she pointed out some of the flowering trees and told me the legends surrounding them.  The dogwood tree and the Judas tree are relevant on Good Friday.

dogwoods pink and whiteAccording to legend, the dogwood was originally a tall, strong tree and provided the wood for the cross where Jesus was hung.  The dogwood was so ashamed of that role, that it prayed to God.  God answered it’s prayers.  The dogwood would be a smaller tree whose wood could not longer be used to make crosses used for crucifixions.  The flower of the dogwood was shaped with four petals to represent the four nails that affixed Jesus to the cross.  In the center of each flower would be a small red seed that represented a drop of Christ’s blood.

When I looked this legend up, I found the following poem, author is anonymous.

When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.

Its branches were strong and interwoven
And for Christ’s cross its timbers were chosen

Being distressed at the use of the wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
“Not ever again shall the dogwood grow
To be large enough for a tree, and so

Slender and twisted it shall always be
With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.
The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown
And in the blossom’s center a thorny crown.

All who see it will think of Me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.
Protected and cherished this tree shall be
A reflection to all of My agony.”

The Judas tree, which is also known as the Redbud tree,  is allegedly the tree where Judas Iscariot hung himself after he betrayed Christ.  It’s once white blossoms blushed pink with shame.

Happy Easter.



7 thoughts on “Good Friday, Virginia”

  1. This was a fine Easter lesson. If I had known the symbolism of the dogwood and rosebud, I must have forgotten them long ago. Thank you for the reminder and for the illustrations. Our Easter today in this part of the world was chilly (in the 30s), and we won’t expect the first hint of flowering shrubs for at least a couple of weeks. As much as I love winter and like to see the colors of Spring, this transition between them has always struck me as one of the gloomiest parts of the year. Thank you for brightening it for me.


  2. My pleasure. I love Virginia at this time of the year. (Glad the WordPress gods allowed you to make a comment on Easter Sunday.) Hope you have a gorgeous Spring in the Great Northern plains.


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