Our Lady of the Herbs
(By Sophie Knab) In keeping with the ancient tradition of Poland, Corpus Christi Church, will hold a blessing of herbs and flowers on the Feast of the Assumption on Wednesday, August 15 at Masses: 11:30AM & 6:30PM.
In Poland, the Feast of the Assumption is also called Matka Boska Zielna – Blessed Mother of the Herbs, or Our Lady of the Herbs. The Blessed Mother is seen as the patron and keeper of the earth and all of its abundance.
On this special feast day, every village housewife brought a bouquet of herbs, flowers and grain that was collected from her own garden, the fields and orchards.
She gathered dill, mint, rosemary, southernwood, parsley, hyssop, lovage, and comfrey – whatever she had growing in her garden. Many plants were named after the Blessed Mother. For instance, mullein, called dziewanna in Polish, was known as the braids of the Blessed Mother. And the wild herb St. John’s Wort was called the bells of the Blessed Mother. Since this time coincided with the time of the harvest, it was also the custom to take a few spikes of various grains including wheat, rye and oats.
After the blessing, the flowers and herbs were taken home and tucked behind holy pictures to protect the home against fire and lightening. Some farmers crumbled some of the blessed flowers into their seed bags in the belief that it would assure a good harvest. Some of the herbs were used in folk medicine to cure a cough or a cold.
This is a custom that was once prevalent throughout Polonia, brought to this country by our Polish ancestors. In recent years this beautiful custom has slowly gone by the wayside. Father Mariusz Dymek at Corpus Christi invites everyone to bring their flowers and bouquets.
The church is located at 199 Clark Street, Buffalo, New York 14212.