Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Legend of the Poinsettia

The Poinsettia and other plants associated with Christmas

A charming story is told of  Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present to the Christ Child at Christmas Eve services. As Pepita walked slowly towards the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy.
"I am sure, Pepita, that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes," said Pedro consolingly.
Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, enough for a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back a tear as she entered the small village chapel.

As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro's kind words: "Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes." She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene.

Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes.

From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season.
Today, the common name for this plant is the poinsettia!

This story is told and beautifully illustrated in “The Legend of the Poinsettia” by Tomie de Paola.

In Spain the poinsettia is known as the Flor de Noche Buena, the flaming star-like blossoms an emblem of the star of Bethlehem.  

A few words about other plants associated with Christmas:

Plants traditionally used as Christmas decorations are mostly evergreens: first, because they were the only ones available in the winter season; second, because from ancient times the evergreens have been symbolic of eternal life.

A German legend says that the carnation bloomed on the night of Jesus’ birth.
German peasants of the 19th century told of the apple tree blooming on Christmas Eve.

Holly has been part of Christmas decorations in English churches since at least the fifteenth century. The holly tree was known as the Holy Tree and in old Cornwall was called Saint Mary’s Tree in respect for the Mother of God.   
It is said that one winter night, the holly miraculously grew leaves out of season in order to hide the Holy Family from Herod's soldiers. Since then, it has been an evergreen as a token of Christ's gratitude.

 A German legend says that the holly's berries used to be white but Christ's blood left them with a permanent deep red stain. This is told in the English song, The holly and the ivy. The melody is from an old French Carol.

The holly and the ivy
The holly and the ivy,
Now both are full well grown.
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Savior. Chorus

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.3 Chorus

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas day in the morn. Chorus

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all. Chorus

Oh, the rising of the sun,
The running of the deer.
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the quire. 

by Vincenzina Krymow

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roses and Lilies By Vincenzina Krymow

From the author of Mary's Flowers: Gardens, Legends and Meditations

     Roses and lilies have been associated with Our Lady since the early days of Christianity.

     During the first century, heathen temples were transformed into Christian churches, and traditions once associated with heathen deities were transferred to Mary and the saints. As devotion to Mary spread, plants once dedicated to Venus, Roman goddess of Spring, were rededicated to Mary. Roses and lilies, sacred symbols of Venus, became Mary’s flowers.

     The white rose symbolized the Virginity of Mary and the perfect rose became a symbol of the Queen of Heaven. The lily represented chastity. The angel Gabriel is said to have held a lily (Madonna lily) in his hand when he came to tell Mary she would give birth to Jesus.
     One of the earliest legends, from the second century, tells us that when Mary was assumed into heaven, and her tomb was opened, it was found to be filled with lilies and roses.

     In the fourth century Mary became known as the Rosa Mystica. The cult of the Virgin began in Europe in the sixth century and by the seventh century the cult of Mary the Virgin and the Mystical Rose flourished.

     Early Christian poets saw Mary’s motherhood as enclosing heaven and earth within her womb, symbolized within the space of a single round rose. They associated Mary with the rose and the sealed garden of roses and lilies described in the Song of Solomon: “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (Song of Solomon, 2:1).

Legends about roses and lilies flourished, reaching a peak in popularity in the twelfth century. They told about important events in Mary’s life:

Artist, Brother Joe Barrish, S.M
     The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) bloomed the night Jesus was born.
     The Rose of Jericho (Anastatica hierochuntica), also known as Mary’s Rose, sprang up every place she 
     and Joseph rested during the flight into Egypt.

   Devotion to Mary was rewarded as told in other legends. They tell of Mary placing a garland of roses (Rose Campion) on the head of an English lord who prayed to our Lady as he entered dangerous woods. Thieves saw the roses and let the lord pass unharmed. A wealthy knight was very devout but could only remember the first two words of the Ave Maria prayer. After he died and was buried a fleur-de-lis (yellow flag iris; lis means lily) sprang up from his grave, and the words “Ave Maria” appeared in golden letters on every blossom.


Hymns celebrated Mary and roses and lilies. St. Peter Damian, who lived in the eleventh century, wrote:

          He clothed you with lilies, covered you with roses
          He embellished you with the flowers of virtue

     In the twelfth century Pope Innocent III wrote these lines in a hymn titled The Assumption of the Virgin:

          Give roses, throw lilies For the queen
          Now divine
          Entered these hallowed halls

      During the Middle Ages Raphael, Signorelli, della Gatta, di Bicci and other artists painted Mary’s tomb filled with roses and lilies. Giotto, Fra Angelico and Francia depicted Mary with lilies and roses in paintings titled Enthroned Madonna, Madonna and Child and The Immaculate Conception.

By Vincenzina Krymow

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Early U.S. Mary Gardens by Vincenzina Krymow

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Early U.S. Mary Gardens by Vincenzina Krymow

 We are so happy to have Vincenzina write for us today.

Early U.S. Mary Gardens
By Vincenzina Krymow
1932  St. Joseph Church, Woods Hole, Cape Cod, Mass. 

The first Mary Garden that we know of was established at St. Joseph church in Woods Hole on Cape Cod in 1932.

Called “Garden of Our Lady,” it was created by Frances Crane Lillie, a wealthy woman from Chicago who first came to Woods Hole in 1891 to study biology.
During her travels in Europe, Mrs. Lillie had learned that English monastery gardens once included flowers with names associated with Our Lady. She wanted to create a garden in the "tradition of Mary Gardens throughout the world" and asked an academic friend, Winifred Jelliffe Emerson, to search early plant literature for plants with religious and Mary names.

Her friend found Mary-named flowers in old botanical and folklore books and together they planned and established the garden. Hurricanes destroyed the garden several times, but each time it was restored.

1954 - Mount St. John/Bergamo, Dayton, Ohio
Marianist Father Thomas Stanley had read about Mary Gardens and decided to find out more in 1953, when Pope Pius XII declared that 1954 would be a Marian year for the Catholic Church.  

Father Stanley traveled to Woods Hole to see the Mary Garden there, made contact with John Stokes’ Mary’s Garden Nursery and in 1954 created a Mary Garden at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto on the grounds of Mt. St. John/Bergamo.

1982 - Episcopal Convent of the Transfiguration, Glendale, Ohio
A shady Mary Garden was established in Glendale, a suburb of Cincinnati, at the Episcopal Convent of the Transfiguration. The Garden was designed by Miriam Evans, a resident of the Johnston House on the convent grounds who had heard of John Stokes interest in Mary Gardens and contacted him for information. The garden was designed around a statue of the Madonna and Child which had been placed there sometime in the 1960’s.
The garden was dedicated on August 15, 1982, Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

1988 - St. Mary’s church, Annapolis, Maryland
This Mary Garden is located next to the historic Carroll House. Inspiration for the garden came from Nan Sears, who first heard about Mary Gardens in 1945.
With help from volunteers she “turned a patch of weeds and gum wrappers behind the church” into a tribute to Mary. Crepe myrtle trees shade part of the area, and a circle of boxwood trees, more than 100 years old, provide a place where school children plant their own garden each spring in honor of their mothers. 
The Mary of Nazareth statue, sculpted from polished Vermont granite, shows Jesus when he was about  9 or 10 years of age. The garden was dedicated Sept. 8, 1988, feast of Mary’s birthday.

1993 - St. Catherine of Siena parish, Portage, Mich.
After many years in Africa, Father Stanley, who had established the Mary Garden at Mt. St. John/Bergamo in Dayton, returned to the U.S. and was assigned to St. Catherine of Siena parish in Portage, Michigan. 

He soon found a parishioner willing to organize a Mary Garden project for the parish. Planning began in January, 1993, flowers were planted in June and the garden was dedicated Aug. 14, 1993, the vigil of the feast of the Assumption.
A specially-commissioned bronze sculpture of the Immaculate Conception replaced an earlier statue and was dedicated on Aug. 18, 1996.The statue represents Mary, Model of the Church, with child and in anguish for delivery. 

(Excerpted from Radio Maria talk given 7-1-11 by Vincenzina Krymow. She is the author of Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends andMeditations, 
now in its third printing. Available from Tau Publishing.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grotto at the University of Notre Dame, Our Lady of the Lake

 If you are journeying into a Marian experience, take a look at the Grotto at Notre Dame.  A truly special place and everything you want to know about it, can be found here By Dorothy V. Corson

 and here

Monday, May 2, 2011

What a day

With Osama bin Laden news over the last almost twenty four hours, I am astonished.  Just as the 911 one attacks left me in a stupor.

I can only join in and echo that which was sent from the Vatican email today.

"Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end. A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person's responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace".
OP/                                                                                       VIS 20110502 (120)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Flowers of Our Lady, Creating Mary's Gardens

 Looking for churches, home gardeners and parishes that are involved in the ministry of gardening for Mary. 
In starting this blog, I just want to get re-connected with those interested in starting a Mary Garden and those who have created Mary Gardens in the past to offer tips, insights and inspiration, plus share photos and videos of your gardens from around the world.

Many years ago, I had the privilege and honor of working for John Stokes, Jr., co-founder of Mary's Gardens. As we are coming upon Mary's Month of May, I am thinking of the gardens and the flowers of Our Lady.  Here's a link to the Marian News page.  with comments regarding honoring Our Lady. 

"Mary's Gardens was founded in 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to research the hundreds of flowers named in medieval times as symbols of the life, mysteries and privileges of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus—as recorded by botanists, folklorists and lexicographers; and to assist in the planting of "Mary Gardens" of "Flowers of Our Lady" today." from his website now found at University of Dayton Marian Library.

I found Mr. Stokes online actually, while looking for flowers to add to a garden at what was my church, and is my 'home' parish, St.Cecilia's Parish, Ashland, MA.   Friends and I were recreating the Grotto of Our Lady there.  While that was a truly life changing experience, I was soon to meet John Stokes, Jr., via online correspondence and eventually did some transcription. for his work with the organization.  Much of what I transcribed was his thoughts and those of his colleague and friend,  Bonnie Roberson.   From his articles on (now at Dayton).  You will see from reading the main site, there is comprehensive research on the flowers of Our Lady.  I would visit the Lillie Tower being inspired by his original story and also the US National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC while on a college visit. 

I just started a newsletter of sorts.  With not being engaged with recent and new gardens, I posted some I found online and some of my Mary products.  At one time, I remember talking with John about having a Mary's Garden Shoppe and I even had the web domain, because he had secured that in advance.  It just didn't happen back then due to time constraints. 

As life takes me in a new direction, I hope to be able to talk with you all about Mary Gardening.  Whether you are starting one now or have been gardening with Mary in mind for years, we want to hear from  you.
John Stokes was a pioneer in his engagement of dialogue with email and the internet, so many, many years before facebook and twitter.  I would like to do him justice and keep the faith in perpetuity about Marian thoughts and gardening. 



Please comment and send me a message if you are having trouble using this site.

Vaya con Dios

Monday, March 21, 2011

Come Follow Me, spiritual thoughts from twitter with music

These days splattered over the internet, twitter, facebook and other social media outlets, people are begging for you to follow them.  Come follow me, follow buttons to click and like buttons are standard on most contemporary web pages.

But, it just makes me think that there was one a few thousand years ago, One who said the same thing.  There wasn't the web dynamic, but there was something more superior, a higher being with more genuine synergy. Jesus said to follow Him and all would be well. You tube video Be Not Afraid.

Why then now in the year 2011 are people scurrying all around trying to get people to follow them?  Biblical scholars could pinpoint the chapter and verse, maybe Mark?  But, I know I heard Him say to follow Him. I got caught up in the times too, until I discovered I did not understand the facebook like thing at all and couldn't make it work to save my soul.  So, I decided  or reconfirmed my nature to just 'follow' Jesus in those ways that I can and save my soul in the old-fashioned way.  I'd like to share with you through experiences, words and song. So, I'm just sending out some contemporary good news videos and song about one who has more followers than any twitter could ever dream. 

For one thing, he doesn't give me any security issues or fear of losing my privacy.  Jesus holds my confidence.  I can talk to him day or night and do not have to share with the 'online world'.  When I do feel like sharing with the online world, such as tonight, it is because I an inspired to do so and not just general chit chat to fill precious time.  But then, I found out Pope John Paul II is now on facebook thanks to the current Pope who is keeping his saintly attributes alive during the beatification period.  I guess I'll give facebook another attempt one of these days, since I logged back in to like the Pope! 

I can't forget Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act! I will follow Him. 

During this Lenten season, I guess I'm a little more introspective about life. 
We are one Body by Dana Scallon is a beautiful song that depicts how we all follow one another for the greater good.  I love the 3rd verse and the third rendition of I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Carry your Candle by Kathy Troccoli is one of my all time favorites, not just during Lent.  To me, it means paying attention to  your brother and sisters of the world and trying to realize what they are going through and helping them if you can.  If that's not "following" then I don't know what the term follow means.   It's a very powerful song.  I remember playing a recording of this song to a group of Hospice volunteers.  We can all carry our candle every day.

A Steve Angrisano song comes to mind right now.   He has such a gentle and comforting voice and the melodies are so soothing and inspring.  Here's one of his songs.    My Soul is Thirsting.   

I learned at Mass this Sunday that Eucharist is derived from Eucharistine, meaning to give thanks in Latin.  
So, to sign out for tonight.  Malo, Malo Thanks be to God.

Check out Jesse Manibusan with Open my Eyes 
Nothing is beyond You...

Until tomorrow night, are we called to serve?

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