The image of this flower was found on coins and ornaments from the ancient world. The scholars still debate its mention in the Bible. It is difficult to know if this is the plant depicted in Solomon's Song of Songs (2:1-2) "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens". It does not grow in the Sharon valleys, but it certainly stands out among the thorny bushes on the mountain.
In the Christian tradition this plant is associated with the Virgin Mary, probably because of its brief appearance in the late spring in large strikingly pure white flowers. The Crusaders found it here and sent large amounts of bulbs to Europe where it was introduced into cultivation for ornamental purposes.