vol II date / index
St. Tarasius, A.D. 806. St. Victorinus, A.D. 284. St. Walburg, Abbess. St. Cæsarius, A. D. 369.
This saint, daughter of Richard, king of the West Saxons, also a saint, became a nun at Winburn in Dorsetshire, from whence, twenty-seven years after she had taken the veil, she went to Germany, and became abbess of a nunnery at Heidenheim in Suabia, where her brother governed an abbey of monks, which at his death, in 760, she also governed, and died in 779. His relics were distributed in the principal cities of the Low Countries, and the cathedral of Canterbury. The catalogue of relics in the electoral palace of Hanover, published there in 1713, mentions some of them there in a rich shrine. Butler calls them "rich particles." Part of her jawbone, at Antwerp, was visited and kissed by the archduke Albert and Isabella in 1615. An oily liquor flowed from her tomb, and was a sovereign remedy, till the chemists and apothecaries somehow or other got their simples and substances into superior reputation. Strange to say, these victors over relics have never been canonized, yet their names would not sound badly in the calendar: for instance, St. William Allen, of Plough-court; St. Anderson, of Fleet-street; St. Cribb, of High Holborn; St. Hardy, of Walworth; St. Fidler, of Peckham; St. Perfect, of Hammersmith; &c.
It is observed by Dr. Forster in the "Perennial Calendar," that about this season the purple spring crocus, crocus vernus, now blows, and is the latest of our crocuses. "It continues through March like the rest of the genus, and it varies with purple, with whitish, and with light blue flowers. The flowers appear before the leaves are grown to their full length. The vernal and autumnal crocus have such an affinity, that the best botanists only make them varieties of the same genus. Yet the vernal crocus expands its flowers by the beginning of March at farthest, often in very rigorous weather, and cannot be retarded but by some violence offered; while the autumnal crocus, or saffron, alike defines the influence of the spring and summer, and will not blow till most plants begin to fade and run to seed.
On the Seasons of Flowering, by White.
Say, what impels, amid surrounding snow,
Congealed, the Crocus' flamy bud to glow?
Say, what retards, amid the Summer's blaze,
The autumnal bulb, till pale, declining days?
The God of Seasons, whose pervading power
Controls the sun, or sheds the fleecy shower:
He bids each flower his quickening word obey;
Or to each lingering bloom enjoins delay.
We may now begin to expect a succession of spring flowers; something new will be opening every day through the rest of the season."
A writer under the signature CRITO in the "Truth Teller" dilates most pleasantly in his fourth letter concerning flowers and their names. He says "the pilgrimages and the travelling of the mendicant friars, which began to be common towards the close of the twelfth century, spread this knowledge of plants and of medical nostrums far and wide. Though many of these vegetable specifics have been of late years erased from our Pharmacopœias, yet their utility has been asserted by some very able writers on physic, and the author of these observations has himself often witnessed their efficacy in cases where regular practice had been unavailing. Mr. Abernethy has alluded to the surprising efficacy of these popular vegetable diet drinks, in his book on the 'Digestic Organs.' And it is a fact, curiously corroborating their utility, that similar medicines are used by the North American Indians, whose sagacity has found out, and known from time immemorial, the use of such various herbs as medicines, which the kind, hospitable woods provide; and by means of which Mr. Whitlaw is now making many excellent cures of diseases." He then proceeds to mention certain plants noted by the monks, as flowering about the time of certain religious festivals: "The SNOWDROP, Galanthus nivalis, whose pure white and pendant flowers are the first harbingers of spring, is noted down in some calendars as being an emblem of the purification of the spotless virgin, as it blows about Candlemas, and was not known by the name of snowdrop till lately, being formerly called FAIR MAID OF FEBRUARY, in honour of our lady. Sir James Edward Smith, and other modern botanists, make this plant a native of England, but I can trace most of the wild specimens to some neighbouring garden, or old dilapidated monastery; and I am persuaded it was introduced into England by the monks subsequent to the conquest, and probably since the time of Chaucer, who does not notice it, though he mentions the daisy, and various less striking flowers. The LADYSMOCK, Cardamine pratensis, is a word corrupted of 'our lady's smock,' a name by which this plant (as well as that of Chemise de nótre Dame) is still known in parts of Europe: it first flowers about Lady Tide, or the festival of the Annunciation, and hence its name. CROSS FLOWER, Polygala Vulgaris, which begins to flower about the Invention of the Cross, May 3, was also called Rogation flower, and was carried by maidens in the processions in Rogation week, in early times. The monks discovered its quality of producing milk in nursing women, and hence it was called milkwort. Indeed so extensive was the knowledge of botany, and of the medical power of herbs among the monks of old, that a few examples only can be adduced in a general essay, and indeed it appears that many rare species of exotics were known by them, and were inhabitants of their monastery gardens, which Beckmann in his 'Geshiete der Erfindungen,' and Dryander in the 'Horus Kewensis,' have ascribed to more modern introducers. What is very remarkable is, that above three hundred species of medical plants were known to the monks and friars, and used by the religious orders in general for medicines, which are now to be found in some of our numerous books of pharmacy and medical botany, by new and less appropriate names; just as if the Protestants of subsequent times had changed the old names with a view to obliterate any traces of catholic science. Linnæus, however, occasionally restored the ancient names. The following are some familiar examples which occur to me, of all medicinal plants, whose names have been changed in later times. The virgin's bower, of monastic physicians, was changed into flammula Jovis, by the new pharmaciens; the hedge hyssop, into gratiola; the St. John's wort (so called from blowing about St. John the Baptist's day) was changed into hypericum; fleur de St. Louis, into iris; palma Christi, into imperatoria; sweet bay, into laurus; our lady's smock, into convallaria; our lady's hair, into ranunculus; herb Trinity, into viola tricolor; avens into caryophyllata; coltsfoot, into tussilago; knee holy, into rascus; wormwood, into absinthium; rosemary, into rosmarinus; marygold, into calendula, and so on. Thus the ancient names were not only changed, but in this change all the references to religious subjects, which would have led people to a knowledge of their culture among the monastic orders, were carefully left out. The THORN APPLE, datura stramonium, is not a native of England; it was introduced by the friars in early times of pilgrimage; and hence we see it on old waste lands near abbeys, and on dung-hills, &c. Modern botanists, however, have ascribed its introduction to gipsies, although it has never been seen among that wandering people, nor used by them as a drug. I could adduce many other instances of the same sort. But vain indeed would be the endeavour to overshadow the fame of the religious orders in medical botany and the knowledge of plants; go into any garden and the common name of marygold, our lady's seal, our lady's bedstraw, holy oak, (corrupted into holyhock,) the virgin's thistle, St. Barnaby's thistle, herb Trinity, herb St. Christopher, herb St. Robert, herb St. Timothy, Jacob's ladder, star of Bethlehem, now called ornithogalum; star of Jerusalem, now made goatsbeard; passion flower, now passiflora; Lent lilly, now daffodil; Canterbury bells, (so called in honour of St. Augustine,) is now made into Campanula; cursed thistle, now carduus; besides archangel, apple of Jerusalem, St. Paul's betony, Basil, St. Berbe, herb St. Barbara, bishopsweed, herba Christi, herba Benedict, herb St. Margaret, (erroneously converted into la belle Marguerite,) god's flower, flos Jovis, Job's tears, our lady's laces, our lady's mantle, our lady's slipper, monk's hood, friar's cowl, St. Peter's herb, and a hundred more such.—Go into any garden, I say, and these names will remind every one at once of the knowledge of plants possessed by the monks. Most of them have been named after the festivals and saints' days on which their natural time of blowing happened to occur; and others were so called from the tendency of the minds of the religious orders of those days to convert every thing into a memento of sacred history, and the holy religion which they embraced."
It will be perceived that CRITO is a Catholic. His floral enumeration is amusing and instructive; and as his bias is natural, so it ought to be inoffensive. Lieberality makes a large allowance for educational feelings and habitual mistake; but deceptive views, false reasonings, and perverted facts, cannot be used by either Protestant or Catholic, with inpunity to himself, or avail to the cause he espouses.
Leo the XII. the present pope, on the 24th of May, 1824, put forth a bull from St. Peter's at Rome. "We have resolved," he says, "by virtue of the authority given to us by heaven fully to unlock the sacred treasure composed of the merits, sufferings, and virtues of Christ our Lord, and of his Virgin Mother, and of all the saints, which the author of human salvation has intrusted to our dispensation. Let the earth therefore hear the words of his mouth. We proclaim that the year of Atonement and Pardon, of Redemption and Grace, of Remission and Indulgence is arrived. We ordain and publish the most solemn Jubilee, to commence in this holy city from the first vespers of the nativity of our most holy saviour, Jesus Christ, next ensuing, and to continue during the whole year 1825, during which time we mercifully give and grant in the Lord a Plenary Indulgence, Remission, and Pardon of all their Sins to all the Faithful of Christ of both sexes, truly penitent and confessing their sins, and receiving the holy communion, who shall devoutly visit the churches of blessed Peter and Paul, as also of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major of this city for thirty successive days, provided they be Romans of inhabitants of this city; but, if pilgrims or strangers, if they shall do the same for fifteen days, and shall pour forth their pious prayers to God for the exaltation of the holy church, the extirpation of heresies, concord of catholic princes, and the safety and tranquillity of christian people." The pope requires "all the earth" to "therefore ascend, with loins girt up, to holy Jerusalem, this priestly and royal city."—He requires the clergy to explain "the power of Indulgences, what is their efficacy, not only in the remission of the canonical penance, but also of the temporal punishment," and to point out the succour afforded to those "now purifying in the fire of Purgatory." However, in February, 1825, one of the public journals contains an extract from the French Journal des Debats, which states that there was "a great falling off in the devotion of saints and pilgrims," and it proves this by an article from Rome, dated January 25, 1825, of which the following is a copy:
"The number of pilgrims drawn to Jerusalem (Rome) by the Jubilee is remarkably small, compared with former Jubilees. Without adverting to those of 1300 and 1350, when they had at least a million of pilgrims; in 1750, they had 1,300 pilgrims presented on the 24th of December, at the opening of the holy gate. That number was increased to 8,400 before the ensuing New Year's day. This time (Christmas, 1824) they had no more than thirty-six pilgrims at the opening of the holy gate, and in the course of Christmas week, that number increased only to 440. This is explained by the strict measures adopted in the Italian states with respect to the passports of pilgrims. The police have taken into their heads, that a vast number of individuals from all parts of Europe wish to bring about some revolutionary plot. They believe that the Carbonari, or some other Italian patriots, assemble here in crowds to accomplish a dangerous object. The passports of simple labourers, and other inferior classes, are rejected at Milan, and the surrounding cities of Austrian Italy, when they have not a number of signatures, which these poor men consider quite unnecessary. They cannot enter the Sardinian states without great difficulty. These circumstances are deplorable in the eyes of religious men. We are all grieved at this place."
On this, the Journal des Debats remarks, "Notwithstanding the excuse for so great a reduction of late years in the number of these devotees, it has evidently been produced by the diffusion of knowledge. Men, in 1825, are not so simple as to suppose they cannot be saved, without a long and painful journey to Jerusalem (Rome.)"
Peach. Amygdalus Persica.
Dedicated to St. Walburg.