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.

Baptism of Angels
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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. Photo taken 2012

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. Photo taken 2012

Excerpt: FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN

Reference: LES DEMONS DU PAYS DE SALM by Françoise Cordier

Natural Cold Remedies

This time of year, everyone seems to have the sniffles. Francisca surely had a list of natural cold remedies to treat the symptoms. Here are just a few she may have prescribed. This year, why not try a few home remedies before putting more chemicals into your body?

“Salt Shaker” by Backdoor Survival is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

For a sore throat, mix a few tablespoons of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle for thirty seconds, up to eight times a day. Why does this work? Did you ever notice that your throat feels raw and swollen when it is sore? The salt naturally dries the excessive fluid and reduces swelling. The bacteria that cause a sore throat cannot grow as easily in the drier environment. The salt may not kill the bacteria, but it will make your throat less hospitable for it to take up residence there.

“Hot Peppers on a Sunday Morning” by dmourati is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

Eat spicy foods. Spicy enough to make your eyes and nose run, which will help clear congestion. Hot peppers also have an expectorant effect that helps loosen mucus and clear your lungs. If you like garlic, try cooking it to soften and then crush and spread on a sandwich or use to make a tea.

Catnip or catmint – You won’t find any outside this time of year, but if you can find a plant from a greenhouse, catmint is easy to grown indoors. Place it on a sunny windowsill, as lack of light will prohibit the leaf growth. Pinching off the flowers as soon as they appear will also help the plant fill out. Make sure to water it enough in the dry winter environment. As soon as the plant grows to about six to eight inches, you can start using the leaves. Plant outside after the last frost and replace your indoor catmint plant in the fall with a fresh plant.

“Whoa, catnip is a plant?!? I thought it was science/chemistry, like meth or something!” by dpstyles™ is marked with CC BY 2.0.

A tea made from catnip may soothe a sore throat and help loosen phlegm, but catnip also works as an antacid, for diarrhea and stomach upset. It may reduce anxiety and insomnia as well. The anti-inflammatory properties of catnip also make it an effective treatment for arthritis and help with the swelling of insect bites. Catnip works as a sedative, so do not mix with other sedatives. It also may act as a diuretic so use it in moderation. To make the tea, remove the water from the heat for a minute or two before pouring over the catnip flowering tops and steep.

Sources:
Weiner, Michael A., Earth Medicine, Earth Food. MacMillan Publishing Co, Inc. (1980) Print
Ward, Bernie, 650 Home Remedies, An Essential Companion for Every Home. Globe Communications Corp (1996) Print

La Chatte Pendue

The Rock of La Chatte Pendue
The Rock of La Chatte Pendue. Photo taken 2012

Before the era of the witchcraft trials, there was a period of rumors. They started quietly, half-formulated whispers and slander, impossible to defend. The rumors continued until even the most respected High Stone was accused.

An old woman in the village was clever, a little too clever. One day a young man tried to cheat her, but she outsmarted him. Embarrassed, he started the rumor that the old woman was a witch. The people of the town got together, carrying their torches, ready to burn the woman as soon as they found her. She tried to defend herself, but the other villagers remembered when the old woman had outfoxed them, as well. She could not outwit them again.

As evening drew near, the villagers burned the woman from the highest rock. As the moon rose, they went home in triumph, leaving the pyre smoldering. The next morning, a black cat was found hanging from the highest rock. The rumors were confirmed. She was a witch!

The High Stone was very unhappy, saying, “Now, I am complicit to murder. I cannot approve of this. If a chapter is convened to discuss the madness of men today, I will testify to this folly.”

But the whispering continued.

Next, the Stones near the Donon were accused of having received the mark of the Devil. The accusers pointed to indentations in the Stones vaguely resembling footprints.

Things continuing spiraling downward until they reached the point where the Elder Stone decided to hold a meeting. Not that she really feared the Stones would be burned, how could they? But she was compassionate and open-minded. She saw beyond the Salm to the pyres that burned, one after another. Because the stones were slow to move, she was still considering her options when the Thirty Years War came along and soon there was no one left to burn.

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