Odense lily Fleur de lis in Odense

Odense lily
Other | Monday d. 19. Jul. - Sunday d. 25. Jul. 2021 | Odense | Price: 0 Kr. | Written by: Anders Skovgaard | Translated by: Laura Malahovska

Location: Odense by

Do you know the Odense lily? Only a few do. It also took a long time for me to find out that Odense is not only really fond of scouts but actually has a long history with the French lily, fleur de lis, as a symbol.

The Odense lily is not a specific variety but refers to the fact that a French lily is part of the city's coat of arms and has generally been used as an independent symbol for Odense. In fact, there are two lilies in the city coat of arms. A lily banner, which Knud the Holy holds in his hand and which we probably know best from the French royal family. In addition, there is the so-called sword lily between Knud's legs, which was supposed to refer to the ax with which the king was killed in 1086.

The lily has been linked to Odense since the Middle Ages and has been used as a symbol of the city both independently and as part of e.g. the coat of arms with Knud the Holy and the kingdom apple. But even though the story goes back a long time, it’s somewhat more uncertain why the lily has been the city's flower. The lily is often associated with the beautiful, pure and innocent, and therefore it’s not inconceivable that it should be a companion to Knud the Holy, as one of the few Danish saints. In Denmark, the French lily is often associated with the scout movement by many, but it has nothing but coincidences in common with the Odense lily.

Today, it’s no longer used as much as an independent symbol. It’s clearly Knud who has won the battle to get on the municipality's letterhead. But if you walk through the city, you will often see it as part of the decoration on many of Odense's older and significant buildings, such as the National Archives, where the picture is from, as well as at Odense Cathedral School, where four lilies are in the centre of the facade and on the town hall, where they, for example, encircles the clock. In addition, several sports organizations have used the sign in their logos, including Odense Atletik.

Since I found out for myself what the Odense lily was, I have discovered it in a number of places as part of the decoration on both public and private properties, either directly in the masonry on the facades or in the glass sections at the entrances. Often quite elegant and simple.

Personally, I have become quite fond of this symbolic reference to the city. Very stylish and almost a bit poetic. Most city coats of arms/city symbols are most often castles, swords, shields, dead men or ships (especially on Funen), but a lily I think is so much more gentle and imaginative. I don’t mind that the city has Knud the Holy as a symbol, it makes sense and there is a story behind it, but I would not complain if we started bringing the lily out again. Until then, we can enjoy the ones already hidden and forgotten around the city. Have you seen it in some places?

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Written by Anders Skovgaard

For mig er Odense et forsøg. En åben by, hvor jeg kan skabe mig selv ind i. En mulighed for at gøre noget tingene på en anden måde. Eller det er det hvert fald blevet. Personlig tiltrækkes jeg af f...

This Is Odense