Thursday, May 7, 2009

For our Holy Father Benedict: Lilies and wild Bavarian Strawberries - Pt. 1.

To our gentle and sweet earthly shepherd, on the eve of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I dedicate with prayer and love, the following extracts from my book 'The Crown of the Year'. (Continuum 2005)


Day lilies are not true lilies, their common name coming from their lily-like flowers....'Gentle Shepherd' has creamy yellow flowers with darker yellow centres and slightly crinkly leaves..........."

(Note added today: This year, to achieve the obvious symbolism of yellow and white, I have planted Lily of the Valley round my clump of 'Gentle Shepherd'. Every May for years to come they will be a memorial of this visit of our dear Pope Benedict to the Holy Land.)

"Dean Hole once asked a boy what a garden is for. 'Strawberris!' the boy replied without hesitation............But where space is at a premium, grow strawberries in traditional pots with spirally arranged holes around the sides. Except for the necessity of frequent wqtering, this is a labour-saving method. Fruit is out of reach of slugs, mulching and hoeing are unnececarry and a net draped over the pot will protect your fruit...........

"History and Lore
.....The strawberry is ancient and findings in Swiss pile-dwellings have shown that its popularity dates back to the Stone Age. Later it was dedicated to the German Goddess Frigg, guardian of marriage and motherhood. In Christian lore it thus became an attribute of the Virgin Mary... and a tradition is recorded that St. John the Baptist ate wild strawberries in the wolderness. If Bavarian children were picking strawberries and passed a cross or chapel, they would make an offering of three fruits...................."

(There is much more German and east European lore in this entry of my book, but you can be sure, if I ever meet the Holy Father, which I'm afraid is highly unlikely,I'll be bound to ask him whether he, Georg and Maria ever offered their three strawberries in accordance with this tradition. On a practical note he may or may not know that strawberry tea makes a good gargle for a sore throat. In other words dear Holy Father, cut out the Fanta and go for the 'Fragaria'!)

'Towards a Meditation' on these plants and the apppropriate Liturgical days, to follow.

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