"When, before turning to leave the church, I made a genuflection before the altar, I felt suddenly, as I rose again, a bitter-sweet fragrance of almonds steal towards me from the hawthorn-blossom, and I then noticed that on the flowers themselves were little spots of a creamier colour, in which I imagined that this fragrance must lie concealed, as the taste of an almond cake lay in the burned parts, or the sweetness of Mile. Vinteuil’s cheeks beneath their freckles. Despite the heavy, motionless silence of the hawthorns, these gusts of fragrance came to me like the murmuring of an intense vitality, with which the whole altar was quivering like a roadside hedge explored by living antennae, of which I was reminded by seeing some stamens, almost red in colour, which seemed to have kept the springtime virulence, the irritant power of stinging insects now transmuted into flowers."Also... on the subject of hawthorns, thanks to Virginia for these links...
Hedge, flower & fruit..
This one is from a homeopathic point of view.... something Proust might have known since his father was a doctor, even though heart problems weren't part of his pattern.
Now then, in the French, he names the tree/hedge "aubépine", so I'm wondering if it's a slightly different species. And "épine" by itself is "thorn."
So from these two items, there seems to be less of a connection with "crown of thorns" in a religious sense (although never far away) and more of a connection to heart, love, May, spring, sensuality. But also shelter... .for aniimals, insects, and voyeurs!