The Blessing of the Flowers


On the 16th of August flowers were blessed at St. Casmirs Church in Mahanoy City. It was a yearly event and a day of ceremony and beauty. It didn't take much persuasion on our part to gather flowers. Only the loveliest were chosen-- both wild and cultivated. With quarry in hand, grandmother would lead the children over the hills on our four mile trek to church. On the way we were joined by other families primarily females who saw to such festivities.

This was one of my most favorite days. The Polish Church was decorated with flowers and those who came to worship all carried flowers. The flowers were blessed during the mass in a special ceremony with prayer. The fragrance, I shall always remember the fragrance, of the flowers it was so much more pleasant than pungent incense which I associated with church

After church the flowers were carried home and placed on our own private altar where they remained until they withered. They were then placed on a flat surface and allowed to dry in the open sun. The dried perfumed petals were preserved in a special flower bedecked vase which grandmother had brought with her from Poland and which we called the rose petal box.

Every child without exceptions fears thunder and lightening. In our family it was different. Whenever flashes of lightening hurled ominously across the darkened sky, and thunder pierced our ears, the rose petal jar was taken down from its lofty perch. A tablespoonful of the petals was placed on a small dish and burned. Retaining some of their original moisture, the petals did not burn rapidly-- but smoldered releasing a faint but sweet fragrance.

While they smoldered we would kneel with grandmother as she recited a prayer from her large black prayer book for every occasion. This particular prayer was to protect us from lightning. It did so; and what was also important, it kept us from fearing lightning. How could one be fearful when one had such a powerful amulet?