Sunday, May 26, 2019

     Saint Walstan, the patron-saint of farmers, farmhands, haymakers, herdsmen, farms and farm animals, is often in my thoughts as I trim hooves, mow the pasture, or put up fences!  
                                   An Orthodox icon of St. Walstan of Bawburgh
According to legend, St.Walstan was born around 975 A.D. to Benedict and Blide, nobles related to the Royal Family. 
                             Image result for images stack of medieval books library
 His parents, who possessed a library, fostered little Walstan's love of reading. He especially liked the Holy Scriptures, impressed by the verse in the Gospel of Luke, Whosoever that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple. Walstan decided, at the early age of seven, to renounce all, for the love of God. 
                                  Image result for image peasant child
   Shortly before his thirteenth birthday, he told his parents that he must leave their home forever. Warned by an angel in a dream of their son’s destiny, Benedict and Blide consented to his wish, though they grieved in their hearts

                           Image result for image east anglia
   Known as Walstan the Generous, he lived in county Norfolk, which lies in East Anglia, bordered by the North Sea to the east and the north. In his travels he gave away all his worldly possessions and dressed like a beggar. 

   A man named Nalga who owned a large farm offered Walstan work, and this young man of God became a farmhand working on Nalga’s lands until the end of his life 
Image result for image white calf   The only gift of remuneration he would accept from Nalga were two white calves and a wagon as an angel had commanded him to do so. 
A picture of St. Walstan and an angel inside the garden room near the Our Lady and St. Walstan's RC Church in Costessey, Norfolk (provided by rector of RC church, Costessey)
    When he died, in 1016, he was placed on the wagon, and God guided the calves. When they stopped three times in their travels, holy springs with clear water gushed forth at each place...Taverham, Costessey, and Bawburgh.

  During his life he healed many peasants and animals, and after his death the water from the three wells and the surrounding moss is said to have healed many more beasts and humans.

His sites remained destinations of pilgrimage until the Reformation, when his relics were destroyed in 1538. But the villagers of East Anglia never forgot him and continue to this day to flock to his holy wells.
St. Walstan's well in Bawburgh, Norfolk (source - Evelyn Simak from
  St. Walstan's Day is celebrated each year on the nearest Sunday to May 30 (his feast according to the old calendar)
                       Church of Sts. Mary and Walstan in Bawburgh, Norfolk

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ladybug, Ladybug fly away home, a Medieval poem

         The Ladybug, has a fascinating history. There are about 500 species in the United States, and 6,000 different species around the world.
How it got its name: In Europe, during the Middle Ages, swarms of insects were destroying the crops. The farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon thereafter, the Ladybugs came, devouring the plant-destroying pests and saving the crops! 
               Image result for image medieval farmers
 The farmers called these beautiful insects "The Beetles of Our Lady", and eventually they became popularly known as "Lady Beetles".  Ladybugs go by a few different names, including: Ladybirds, Ladybugs, Lady beetles and Lady cows.
          The name “ladybird” originated in the Middle Ages when the insects were known as the “beetle of Our Lady”. They were named after the Virgin Mary, who in early religious paintings was often shown wearing a red cloak. The spots of the seven spot...
The red wings were said to represent the Virgin's cloak ,and the black spots were symbolic of her seven joys and seven sorrows.
"Ladybug, ladybug fly away home,
Your house in on fire and your children are gone"
Also in Medieval England, the farmers would set torches to the old Hop vines after the harvest, to clear the fields for the next planting. The poem was a warning to the aphid-eating Ladybugs, still crawling on the vines in search of aphids. 

  All ladybugs are less than ¼ inch long, oval or round shaped, and have six short
legs. ... Sometimes, the ladybug will be a solid color with no pattern at all, and can be yellow, brown, or black. These colors and patterns are thought to warn predators of the ladybug’s bad taste and poison.
   They can have as many as 16 spots, and some ladybugs have no spots at all. Both male and female Ladybugs have spots, and can eat up to 50 aphids a day!

Image result for images california citrus growersIn the 1880's, California, a destructive scale insect was killing large groves of lemon and orange groves. The orchard owners released thousands of Australian Ladybugs with the hopes that they would gain the upper hand. Within 2 years the scale insect infestation was conquered and the trees began to bear fruit again.  The Ladybugs had singlehandedly saved an entire industry (worth half a billion dollars today).
Quite the Superhero 

Ladybugs are great garden predators. Here are six “bad bugs” they’ll eat:Aphids, Mites, Whiteflies, Scale insects, Mealybugs, Thrips

Flowers that attract ladybugs are:
Angelica, Calendula, Caraway, Chives, Coriander, Cosmos, Dill, Fennel, Feverfew, Marigold, Statice, Sweet Alyssum, Yarrow
    Nearly ALL cultures believe that a Ladybug is lucky. Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune. 

    In France, if a Ladybug landed on you, whatever ailment you had would fly away with the Ladybug.


    In Belgium, people believed that if a Ladybug crawled across a young girl's hand, she would be married within a year. 

    People in Switzerland told their young children  
    that they were brought to them, as babies, by Ladybugs. (...and we thought Storks did that)!

    In some Asian cultures, it is believed that the
Ladybug understands human language, and has been blessed by God, Himself.

According to a Norse legend, the Ladybug came to earth riding on a bolt of lightning.
    The Victorians in Britain believed that if a Ladybug alighted on your hand, you would be receiving new gloves.....if it landed on your head, 
 a new hat would be in your future, and so on.

    In the 1800's, some doctors used Ladybugs to treat measles!  They also believed that if you mashed ladybugs (ewww!) and put them into a cavity, the insects would stop a toothache!

    During the Pioneer days, if a family found a Ladybug in their log cabin during the winter, it was considered a "Good Omen".

       In Norway, if a man and a woman spot a Ladybug at the same time, there will be a romance between them.

"Glückskäfer" -- Austria 
"Slunécko" - Czechoslovakia  
"Mariehøne" -- Denmark  
"LadyBird" -- England 
"Leppäkerttu" -- Finland  
"Coccinelle" -- France  
"Marienkafer" -- Germany  
"Paskalitsa" -- Greece  
"Parat Moshe Rabenu" -- Hebrew 
"Lieveheersbeestje" -- Holland  
"Katicabogár" -- Hungary  
"Coccinella" -- Italy  
"Tentou Mushi" -- Japan  
"Da'asouqah" -- Jordan  
"Mudangbule" -- Korea  
"Mara" -- Latvia  
"Kumbang" -- Malaysia   
"Mariehøne" -- Norway
"Biedronka" -- Poland  
"Joaninha" -- Portugal  
"Buburuzã" -- Romania  
"Bosya Kopovka" -- Russia  
"Pikapolonica" -- Slovania  
"Mariquita" -- Spain  
"Nykelpiga" -- Sweden  
"Ugurböcegi" -- Turkey  
"Ladybug" -- United States  
"Ilsikazana Esincane" -- Zulu