The Legend of the Dogwood Tree

Legend has it that 2000 years ago, the dogwood was a tall, strong species of tree comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength, its thick, straight trunk was sought after by the Romans - the rulers of Jerusalem - for building crosses for executions.

One day an officer of the Roman court came to the forest and ordered the woodsmen to construct an extra large cross from the best of their trees. "Make it strong and heavy," he said. "The King of the Jews is to be put to death."

It was soon delivered.

Shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus, the chief woodsman was alarmed to see that all those great trees had begun to whither and die. In several more years, an amazing transformation had taken place. The great oak-like dogwood trees were gone and in their place were thousands of flowering bushes with short, twisted trunks.

You see, the once proud forest giant was mortally anguished. The crucified Jesus in healing pity said, "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will you grow large enough to be used for a cross. Henceforth, your trunk will be thin and twisted. Your white blossoms will have four petals in the shape of a cross. The outer edge of each petal will show nail prints stained with red, and the center will be like a crown of thorns. Your berries will be drops of blood. Every year at the anniversary of my death and rising, you will bloom forth in glorious beauty as a reminder to all of my gift to the children of men."