In keeping with the ancient tradition of Poland, St. Mary’s Parish held a blessing of herbs and flowers on Sunday, August 16th, day after the Feast of the Assumption of the BVM. In Poland, the Feast of the Assumption is also called Matki Boskiej 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. After the blessing, the flowers and herbs 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.
This is a custom that was once prevalent throughout Polonia, brought to this country by our Polish ancestors. In recent years this beautiful custom has slowly gone by the wayside.
Since the earliest centuries, Christians have blessed herbs and fruit on the Feast of the Assumption in the belief that these sacramentals provide protection against harm and danger. This day marks the blessing of herbs, flowers, grapes and/or wheat, depending on what area you live. Herbs had not our restricted English meaning but included all kinds of cultivated and wild flowers, especially those which in some way had a symbolic relation to our Lady.