There is a pious legend that tells of Mary's Assumption into Heaven. Mary knew that her life on earth was about to end. She was ready to join her Son in her glorious eternal home. According to the legend, she called the apostles to gather around her, for they were her spiritual children, given to her by her beloved Son. She was their Mother, the Mother of the infant Church, and she loved them. But it was time to say goodbye.
The apostles were weeping. They were losing their Mother, and they would miss her horribly even though they knew that she was tired, that she was ready to go home to Heaven. They stood around her as she lay on her bed, grieving and listening to her final words of wisdom. They were all there, Peter, James, John, Matthew, Andrew, Philip, Bartholmew, Simon, Jude, James, and Matthias, all except Thomas. He alone was missing, still on his journey to his Mother's house, hoping and praying to get there in time.
He did not. By the time Thomas arrived, Mary was in the tomb. He must have been devastated, for he hadn't gotten the chance to see her one last time. He begged the others to open the tomb that he might at least gaze upon her face. They pitied him...and agreed.
When the apostles opened the tomb, their mouths dropped open in shock. Mary's body was gone! In its place were flowers, dozens and dozens of flowers. Some versions of the story say that the tomb was filled with roses; others say lilies. Whatever the case, Mary had given her spiritual sons, especially Thomas, a beautiful, fragrant gift to comfort them.
Mary was also giving the apostles, and her spiritual children of all ages, a special reminder about who she is. Flowers have symbolic meanings. Roses, especially red roses, symbolize love. The Immaculate Mary's love was and is inferior only to that of God. Lilies symbolize purity, chastity, and virtue. Mary surpasses all other human beings in these characteristics. As the sinless Mother of God, she is perfectly pure and perfectly chaste. Her countless virtues shine brighter than the stars.
It is fitting, then, that the apostles would be greeted with flowers when they opened Mary's tomb. Her body was no longer there. She had been assumed body and soul into Heaven to be with her divine Son, and she now rules as Queen of Heaven and Earth. But she left behind a special message of love.
Pray for us, Holy Mary, Mother God, most pure, most holy, most loving.