Roman Catholic priests of the late 1500's named it for the Passion (suffering and death) of Jesus Christ. They believed that several parts of the plant, including the petals, rays, and sepals, symbolized features of the Passion. The five sepals and five petals are said to represent the apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Jesus, and Peter, who denied Jesus. The five stamens represent the five wounds Jesus received (one each in his hands and feet and the piercing of his side by a spear), the stigmas represent the three nails used to nail Jesus to the cross, the corona of numerous filaments is said to represent the crown of thorns and the stemmed ovary symbolizes the Lord's goblet. Certain tropical species possess foliage marked by silvery-green rounded variegations and these are said to represent the coins of silver for which Judas betrayed Jesus.
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