The Shamrock and the Four Leaf Clover… Trefoils and Quatrefoils

For centuries, the Irish have considered the shamrock as a lucky symbol and now it has become an international symbol of good luck…
it has become a traditional symbol of St. Patrick’s Day.

Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the trinity and the Irish continue the tradition…
one leaf for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit… the metaphor for the Christian Trinity and the idea
that God is really three in one.  When a four leaf clover is found, it represents God’s Grace.
It is also believed that each leaf of the clover has meaning: the first is for hope, the second for faith and the third for love.

rustic shamrock wax seal

“Shamrock” is the common name for several kinds of three leaf clovers, a species of plant in the pea family.
The scientific name trefoil derives from the Latin “tres” (three) and “folium” (leaf) because the plant has three leaflets.
In heraldry, the trefoil symbolizes perpetuity.

The four leaf clover is an uncommon variation of the common shamrock or three-leaved clover.
Legend has it that each leaf on a four leaf clover represents something different…
the first is for hope, the second is for faith, the third is for love and the fourth is for luck.

medieval four leaf clover

The four leaf clover is a quatrefoil, which is a representation of a flower with four petals or a leaf with four leaflets.
The word is derived from the Latin “quattuor” (four) and “folium” (leaf).
In heraldry, the quatrefoil brings good tidings.

You might be lucky enough to find one four leaf clover in every 10,000 of the common three leaf clovers.
“A best friend is like a four leaf clover… hard to find and lucky to have!”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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