Buffalo, New York – 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 Friday, August 15 at 11:30 A.M. This is a custom that was once prevalent throughout the Polish community in the United States, brought to this country by Polish immigrants.
In Poland the Feast of the Assumption is also called Matki Boski Zielnej – 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. She added her favorite flower such as sweet pea, tansy or sunflowers. A branch of a favorite fruit tree was also tucked in such apple or pear. 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 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.
In recent years this beautiful custom has slowly gone by the wayside. Father Anzelm at Corpus Christi is actively trying to keep the tradition alive and invites everyone to bring their flowers and bouquets. The church is located at 199 Clark Street, in Buffalo, one block east of the Broadway Market. For more information, please call 716-896-1050.