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with her roses
populated their gardens with
sacred images for
Bacchus, Diana, Dionysius, Hermes, Priapus,
Venus, Lares and Penates –-
all are found in the garden statues and
frescos of the Romans.
post-classical times, people have continued to adorn their gardens with Roman,
Hindu, Mayan, and other deities, as well as with the Buddha, Christian
saints, gnomes, and the fairy folk.
Below are eleven saints who have
special associations with gardens.
Died 827, France
Adelard (pronounced Alard) was first cousin and minister
to Charlemagne. He was later the abbot, as well as gardener,
at the Abbey of Corbie in Picardy. In church art, he is
portrayed digging in a garden, his abbot’s crown lying on the ground beside him.
During a terrible famine,
Bishop Ansovino persuaded the haves to share with the have-nots.
He is portrayed standing beside a barn,
holding fruit and garden produce, and is invoked for good
Brigit, Bridgit, Brid, Bride, Ffraid
Born c. 451,
her feast day is February 1, which is Imbolc -- in Ireland, celebrated as the first day of spring
Brigit, excellent woman, bright flame -- may your glow
bring us to the lasting kingdom, save us from the devil's
armies, break before us the bonds of mortality. Do away
with the cost that evil levies, Brigit, blossoming branch...
Legend says that Brigit was the daughter of Leinster chieftain
Dubhtach and a Pictish slave woman,
Dubhtach sold Brocca, pregnant with his child, to a Druid, but
retained ownership of the child she was carrying. That child was
Brigit, and she grew up as a farm worker, at first laboring on the Druid's land,
and then on her father's, before becoming the leader of an early
Christian community of women.
Others theorize that she may originally have been a priestess of
the goddess Brigit, who had powers over healing, poetry,
creativity, inspiration, grain, cattle, and flowers. History
documents the friendship of Saint Brigit and St. Patrick, and it
is possible that
Patrick converted this pagan priestess to Christianity.
Brigit, described in the
ancient hymn of St. Broccan as
Brigit be bithmait, “Brigit, flowering branch,”
was a renowned brewer of ale, knew how to
milk a cow and clean a hearth, and was a plain-spoken woman with
great common sense. Her
attributes include the
of white wool and
a white veil; often she is portrayed standing beside an
altar on which burns her perpetual fire, and accompanied
by wild geese
or an ox.
Betony is known in Welsh as cribau
Sant Ffraid, Brigit's comb.
Bishop of Lindisfarne, at times
Cuthbert lived alone on a small island nearby.
Late one spring, well past time to plant a crop, he put barley
into the ground. In spite of its the late planting, the barley flourished
-- until the birds arrived to decimate his
little field. Scolding, he asked them why they took what
belonged to someone else. If God had given them permission,
fine, but “…if
not, get you gone, and do no further injury." The birds
immediately flew away, and never bothered his crops again. He is
often shown surrounded by animals, including otters, who waited
upon him as he prayed, standing knee-deep in frigid waters.
Dorothy of Caesarea
311 in Caesarea
Dorothy refused to marry, saying Jesus was
her spouse, she was mocked on the way to
her martyrdom by a lawyer who told her to send him
or roses from her husband's garden. As she prepared to die, she
saw a girl with a basket of roses and apples, and asked
the child to take these to the
lawyer. The girl, actually an angel, did so. In art, Dorothea
is shown carrying the basket and wearing a flowery crown; or in
an orchard where the infant Christ can be seen above her in an apple tree.
Elizabeth of Hungary
Elizabeth was secretly taking bread to
the poor when her parsimonious husband, the king, asked her what she was
hiding beneath her apron. When she pulled it aside to show him,
had turned into roses. She is portrayed with a crown of roses,
rose gardens and rosarians
Born c600, Ireland
whose Gaelic name may mean "raven," was born in Ireland. He became a
hermit in County Kilkenny, and gained renown there as a healer.
Seeking solitude, Fiacre went to France, where the Bishop of
Meaux gave him land in the province of Brie. Here Fiacre created
a hospice and planted a garden, both of which were closed to
women. Fiacre is shown with a
spade and a basket of vegetables or a bible.
and vegetable gardens,
Francis of Assisi
Feast: October 4
who preached to
the birds and tamed a wolf, was patron to birds,
animals, and ecology. In his
per sora nostra
la quale ne sustenta
et produce diuersi fructi con coloriti fior et herba.
Praised be you,
through our sister,
and produces varied
with colored flowers,
Isadore the Laborer
Feast: May 10
once found angels doing Isadore’s work behind the plow
while Isadore himself knelt in prayer. Isadore the Worker, Ysadro el Labrador, is
portrayed carrying a sickle and a sheaf of grain.
field workers, shepherds
Ireland; died 520
Kessog, patron Gaelic saint of Scotland before the
imposition of Roman St. Andrew (and symbolic of the submission of the
native Celtic church to Rome), was born in Ireland and came as a
missionary to Scotland. His center of operations was on
Island) in Loch Lomond. Killed by robbers at Bandry, just
south of the loch, Kessog's body was
returned and buried on the shores of
Loch Lomond. There, the
herbs in which the body had been packed took root and covered
grave. As a result that spot, and eventually
the city, was called Lus,
for herb, and
became a revered center
for pilgrimages. It is now called Luss, and its church houses
this statue of St. Kessog.
Feast: January 8
in Aberdeenshire, Nauchlan or Nathalan, the patron saint
of Deeside, spent much time laboring in the
fields, and was renowned for his agricultural
skills. He was also known for his generosity. Once, having given away all his grain during a famine, he
sowed sand for lack of seed, and was
miraculously rewarded by a plentiful
Patron of farmers
Phocas the Gardener
c 300, Turkey
innkeeper and gardener, was revered for his hospitality as well
as his generosity, sharing all he grew with those who
flower and ornamental gardens, farmers,
hands, market gardeners
Rita of Cascia
Born 1381, Italy
Feast: May 22
One January day,
as Rita lay
on her deathbed in her convent, her cousin asked if she wanted
anything from her old home. She asked for only a rose and a fig.
Although the cousin thought
it would be a wasted trip, she walked to Rita's
snowy garden, where she was amazed to find
rose in bloom, and a single ripe fig. Rita
is shown with roses and bees.
A “weather saint”:
St. Swithin's day, if it dost rain,
For forty days rain
St. Swithin's day,
if it be fair
For forty days
it rains nae
rain; invoked to end drought
Urban of Langres
In the early days of Christianity, Urban fled his enemies and
hid in a vineyard, where he converted the vine-dressers to his
faith. He is another of the weather saints:
Sunshine on St. Urban’s
of all who work in the wine industry;
c 270, Rome
Valentine is shown with birds, roses, a child at his feet, and a
rooster nearby; or as a priest holding a sun.
Magnus of Füssen
Died c 665,
Magnus once rescued a baby dragon and trained it to help
local farmers by hunting rats and
other vermin that destroyed their crops.
against vermin, hail,
watches over plants
and the harvest
Died 780, Holland
Werenfried, an Irish peregrinati,
traveled to Friesland and
erected his church on the site of an earlier Roman temple. He is
often shown as
a priest holding a ship with a coffin in it, or as a priest laid
to rest in in a ship.
against gout, stiff joints