Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Fragrant Flower for Saint Scholastica

My first book 'Gardening with God' covers this period of the Liturgical year. The following is an extract from my entry for Saint Scholastica's day, and explains why I chose Dame's Violet for her.

DAME'S VIOLET Hesperis Matronalis
(Sweet Violet, Vesper Flower)

'History and Lore:
It is chosen for St Scholastica because nuns of the English Benedictine Congregation are formaslly addressed as Dame. But there are other reasons. In flower lore the plant represents watchfulness, a quality that Scholastica possessed in more ways than one. The name 'Vesper Flower' comes from the fact that it is at its most fragrant after sunset. This too is appropriate for the sister of St Benedict. Also the plant sometimes sends out new shoots from the old roots. Here I am thinking of the nunneries founded in Australia, Brazil,Peru and India from our English monasteries of Stanbrook, * Tyburn and Saint Cecilia's Isle of Wight. Lastly, Benedict and his sister were born in Umbria and although Dame's Violet is found throughout Europe and North America, it is native to Italy. As well as being part of the plant's botanical name, Hesperis also means 'the western land', that is Italy. '
Copyright Jane Mossendew 2002

*Additional note added today.
Of course the original Stanbrook is now empty, at least I think it still is, since the community moved to a specially designed set of modern monastery buildings at Wass on the North Yorkshire Moors. The last time I checked their site, the chapel was not ready and I don't think the old Stanbrook has been sold yet. I've no doubt that Abbess Joanna Jameson, who presided over the decision to abandon the original monastery, would see this as an example of putting out new shoots from old roots. I reserve judgment on the wisdom with which this was handled but pray for the Stanbrook community in their new home. They have a new Abbess, Dame Andrea Savage. Following her retirement as Abbess, Dame Joanna took a year's sabbatical in a London art school

Saint Scholastica, pray for all Benedictine nuns, particularly those of the new Stanbrook.


Gertrude said...

Jane, Happy Feast and was interested in your piece on Wass. The sisters there are doing very well, and our Oblate Master visits them (as he did when they were at Stanbrook) fairly regularly.

I expect you know that the Monastery at Wass is built to be eco-friendly, and Sister Scolastica Jacob, writing in last years Benedictine Yearbook wrote: " we have a past and a future coming together in a new building and a new stage in our community's history."

Our Holy Father Benedict pray for us and for the sisters at Wass.

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B. said...

Magnificent, dear Jane! And although it is late (how Scholastitesque) I wish you all the blessings of the feast!

Jane said...

Thank you Gertrude for your comment and bits of news about Stanbrook. I can't get the Yearbook anymore as have not been to London for a couple of years.

Jane said...

My dear Father
Wonderful to hear from you. Glad you're keeping an eye on me!

Jane said...

I've not published your latest comment yet because I want to protect your privacy. On the other hand, I would love to publish it because it is so generous. Let's see how things go on. I don't have your email, but will follow up as you suggest.

Thanks and God bless,