The Legend of the Baptism of Angels

The Feast of the Holy Innocents yesterday reminded me of this ancient Vosges legend.

The legend of the Baptism of the Angels, as told by Monique Marie François, was relayed to me by my cousin, Françoise Cordier and is woven into the backbone of the novel, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN.

The Legend of the Baptism of the Angels

“When the land of Salm was not yet called Salm, Good Stones of Bethlehem gave a wonderful gift to a virgin named Mary. She could not find a room and was about to give birth. The Good Stones opened as only they could and formed a cave where the child was born.

The Savage King of the country heard the news and feared this child of God wished to become king in his place. He called his soldiers and ordered them to kill all the little boys in the country.

Poor Mary thought only to save her baby. She was lost and came round Vipucelle, which was not yet called Vipucelle. The beautiful forests of the Vosges frightened her and at the same time reassured her. What soldier would come looking for her here in the dense forest? During this period, the great empire did not even know this country existed. Thanking the Good Stones, she decided to live there.

The England of the Plantagenets (1189–1377) which honed the royal forest system was a typically medieval land.
medievalists.net

Then she heard music in the distance. The music was nice, but she knew it often announced a lord on the move, soldiers threatening all sorts of things that frightened her. The music of the horns redoubled in intensity, getting closer and closer, accompanied by barking dogs. It was the hunting party of the Savage King, and she knew very well what he hunted. Her baby, Jesus.

The poor woman ran as fast as she could, despite the hills and brush, but she was not as fast as men on horses and dogs who constantly gained on her. The chase led her to the edge of Grandfontaine. The Cornerstones still speak of it today, especially the one called Marie Roche Bois, or the Rock of Mary of the Woods.

‘Sit down a moment,’ said the Good Stone of the Lake as it transformed itself into a small stone seat.

Our Lady of Grace Garden Statue Blessed Virgin Mary Miraculous Medal

After she had rested, Mary escaped her pursuers, but the soldiers killed all the other baby boys in the area, some without having received Baptism.

The abbot, meaner than the soldiers of the Savage King, decided these babies could not go to Heaven. No Baptism, No Salvation! He did not care that innocent children would be punished, never to be in the presence of God. No exception of the law was possible as only Baptized children could go to heaven.

Of course, the High Stones would not tolerate such injustice and met to deliberate the issue at the Lake de la Maix. The Elder of the Stones decided to allow the innocent children to lie on top of them at night so they could receive the Baptism of the Angels, and the stones of the Lake de la Maix became a place of respite.

In the deep of the night, the Virgin Mother casts her gaze on the Lake de la Maix, and if she sees a baby lying there in its deathly slumber, she kisses the child on the forehead. The baby immediately opens its eyes and smiles at the lovely lady. The angels then baptize it with water from the lake and carry it’s soul to heaven.”

Lake de la Maix
Lake de la Maix

Excerpt: FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN

Reference: LES DEMONS DU PAYS DE SALM by Françoise Cordier

Vosges Christmas Legend

The Wild Hunt of the Hellequin
The Wild Hunt of the Hellequin. Åsgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo (accessed from Wikipedia)

 

Between Yule and Twelfth Night, whilst the dead still walk among the living as they usually do during these thinly veiled times; beware the deep of the night. Be sure to leave the final sheaf of wheat in the field and do not remove the feast from the table to allow the ancestral spirits to come and collect their portion, else, the household of Hellequin will collect their share of souls.

The Legend of the Wild Hunt of the Hellequin

 

Before the land of Salm was called the Salm, there was a prince named Hellequin. From the time he learned to walk, he loved to chase. He chased his siblings, his nurse, the footman and the valet. At Mass, instead of lowering his head in prayer, he chased the altar boys and other members of the congregation. The King never corrected the spoiled prince and no one dared to say anything. Soon the prince’s love of the chase had become an obsession.

The prince grew into a handsome young man with dark flowing hair and amber eyes that glinted with mischief. One day at Mass, a rabbit wandered onto the altar and Prince Hellequin could not contain himself. He jumped after the rabbit, chasing it around the altar, knocking over the chalice and ciborium, spilling their consecrated contents. The priest raised his eyes to heaven and asked God for help.

God heard the priest.

Suddenly the floor of the altar crumbled below Prince Hellequin. He grabbed for the linens in a desperate attempt to keep from falling. A cloud of smoke roared from the abyss as three hounds leaped onto the altar, their tails afire, their yellow fangs dripping with blood.

Hellhound. League of Angels Fire Raiders wikia.com

They grabbed the prince and ripped his limbs, spewing blood on the tabernacle and the horrified priest who backed into the corner as the floor crashed before him.

The prince stood. His severed limbs hanging by the threads of his tattered, blood-soaked cloak. His amber eyes glowed as if on fire while light shone through gaping holes in his body. A horrifying smile spread across his face. He pointed toward the congregation and immediately the hellhounds jumped toward the crowd. As quickly as their shredded victims fell, they rose and joined the pack of wild dogs, attacking other members of the household.

The price then turned toward his father who watched helplessly, frozen by the horror of the spectacle before him. The king came to his senses and shouted at his son to stop the carnage, but instead of minding his father, the prince attacked him. Within moments, the king’s eyes glowed and he turned on his wife. Soon the entire household of Hellequin had joined the hunt.

The Wild Hunt – A darker shade of Yule. Image from seventreesfarm.wordpress.com

They rushed toward the stable, mounted the royal horses, and charged into the countryside, so fast that the horses’ feet left the ground. The whirl of hooves, blowing horns of doom, and screams of the damned filled the air and with furious winds, lightning, thunder, and a terrifying whirl, the specter disappeared into the clouds.

 

Pity the traveler who dares to wander by himself as he may hear the sound of whispering leaves. The whispering may be the wind, but assuredly, it is the Hellequin, roaming the skies, scanning the countryside with his band of demons. As fire flashes from the eyes of the prince, his black hellhounds, and the hooves of black horses, the wild souls of the damned sweep down and grab their prey that have no choice but join in the hunt.

The Wild Hunt of the Hellequin.

Wild Hunt. Myths, Lore and Legends. Facebook: Women of Asatru