Also interesting is the plant Athelas, otherwise named Kingsfoil. In an article written by George Sayer, a personal friend of Tolkien, he describes a walk he took with Tolkien in the woods near his home. Tolkien often pointed out plants and philologically described where their names had evolved from and what their meanings were. [Celebration p.5-6]
One in particular was called Herba Benedicta - 'the blessed plant', which Tolkien said was incorrectly translated into English as St Benedict's herb. Tolkien goes on to explain that in years gone by Christian belief was that the plant had a special grace of protection from the devil. He also points out that in ancient times, when picking celandine different variations of Our Fathers and Hail Mary's were prayed and this was an example of Christian prayer replacing the recitation of pagan runes. [Celebration p.5]
King Aragorn uses the Athelas in Minas Tirith when healing Faramir; he breaths of the leaves then crushes them and places them in the water. The Christ-like symbolism is clear and has similarities with the miracle performed by Jesus when he spits into some mud, makes a paste, then smears it over the eyes of the blind man. Jesus himself uses created elements to perform a miracle which continues the sacramental theme and also proves it further.
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