Romans used lavender oils for bathing, cooking, and scenting the air, and they most likely gave it the Latin root from which we derive the modern name (either lavare--to wash, or livendula--livid or bluish). The flower's soothing "tonic" qualities, the insect-repellent effects of the strong scent, and the use of the dried plant in smoking mixtures also added to the value of the herb in ancient times..
Lavender is mentioned often in the Bible, not by the name lavender but rather by the name used at that time--spikenard (from the Greek name for lavender, naardus, after the Syrian city Naarda). In the gospel of Luke the writer reports: "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment."
Another ancient Christian reference to lavender involves how it got its scent. The plant is believed to have been taken from the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. However, the powerful perfume came later. According to legend, the clothing of baby Jesus bestowed the scent when Mother Mary laid them upon a bush to dry. This may explain why the plant is also regarded as a holy safeguard against evil. In many Christian houses, a cross of lavender was hung over the door for protection.