Aquinas Learning

ALJ Vol. 2, Issue 2, March 2019

Articles from the latest edition of the Aquinas Learning Journal.

Celebrating the Liturgical Year: Mary, The Annunciation, May

In Medieval England, the Annunciation feast (Monday, March 25) was reckoned as New Year’s Day, since it marks the beginning of the Incarnation of Christ, in Mary’s womb.

The feast is a bright spot in the Lenten fast. One idea to celebrate is to use edible color to honor Mary: Plant a “Mary Garden” for spring and make a Mary Salad to feast with!

In the middle ages, almost every plan was named for a saint a mystery of the faith, or the Blessed Virgin Mary. Most of the gardeners and herbalists who recorded the attributes of plants were monks, who often designed cloister gardens. The religious names of flowers mostly disappeared during the Reformation, but the names have come down to us in books, and around the world people are reviving these names in “Mary Gardens.

For ideas on how to start a Mary’s Garden at home, and to learn the old flower names, visit here and here. Start planning now and it should be in good shape by May!

For your salad on the Feast of the Annunciation, consider serving some of Mary’s flowers, and make sure to tell your guests the plants’ original religious names. The flowers are readily available at your local farmer’s market or your own yard (don’t be tempted by the flowers at the florist’s, they are full of pesticides and other inedibles).

 Recipe for Virgin Petal Salad

4 cups mesclun greens (whatever mixed early salad greens you like)

1 cup St. Joseph’s Flower (nasturtium leaves)

1 cup nasturtium blossoms, shredded

½ cup Our Lady’s Delight (pansies) leaves

¼ cup blossoms from Our Lady’s Garlic (chives), petals torn from stem

¼ cup Mary’s Gold (marigold) blossoms, petals removed, reserved

Salt and freshly ground pepper

“ever-virgin” (pun intended!) olive oil

Sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons sour cream

Toss lettuces and blossoms together. Toss consecutively with salt, pepper, drizzled olive oil (extra virgin!) and vinegar. Finally, gently toss with sour cream and sprinkle with Mary’s Gold petals.

Not in recipe: but Rose petals are edible as well. Add some for extra garnish!

—This liturgical living segment, including the recipe, was inspired by and sourced in part from the book The Bad Catholic’s Guide To Good Living by John Zmirak & Denise Matychowiak. Check it out!

Image: The View From Great Island

Image: The View From Great Island


Also see: Activities for Lent, by author Colleen Rooney.

Colleen Rooney was a Aquinas Learning Mentor for the fourth-sixth grade girls for three years at AL Manassas and the former Assistant Director of Religious Education at St. Veronica’s; she is a mother, grandmother, and founder of Living Advent and author of Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children.

Rosario Reilly