If you take a good look around St. Anne’s at any time of year, you might notice a ladybug or two. At certain times, a collection of various ladybug-themed objects is even displayed in our activity room’s glass case.
You may wonder how so many ladybugs were acquired.
Sr. Elaine, who works in our business office, somehow took a liking to these colorful little insects (or more properly, we might say, to representations thereof). She has commented to this effect.
Since this became known, people have enjoyed giving her various ladybug objects, from salt and pepper shakers to lawn ornaments to dust pans to even a pail (to name just a few).
Little did she (or the givers) know that the name given to ladybugs has a very interesting history.
Although the facts are not all clear, legend has it that a scourge of small insects (probably aphids) was threatening to devastate the crops somewhere in medieval Europe. The people prayed, asking Mary’s help against the pests. After this, a lot of beetle-like insects came, saving the crops from the invaders. These insects, which came to be known as ladybugs, had a red shell with seven black spots.
In art of the time, Mary was often depicted wearing a red cloak. Also, the faithful remember her seven sorrows and seven joys. The red color and seven spots of the ladybug also serve to tie it to Our Lady.
The insect became known as “Our Lady’s Beetle,” and eventually, in the United States, as “ladybug.” It was recognized as being sent by Our Lady to save the crops, and, thus, save the people from starvation.
All over Europe, this little, helpful insect, is tied with the faith of the people, and often to Our Lady: in Germany, the insect is called Marienkäfer (Mary’s Beetle), in France, la bete a bon Dieu (God’s animal”), in Russia, Bozhya korovka , in Spain Vaquilla de Dios, and in Lithiuania Dievo Karvute (God’s little cow-remember the spots).
It seems that people back in medieval Europe may have been more quick to recognize heavenly involvement in the practical details of their lives. Perhaps the ladybug can teach us a lesson to be more aware of and grateful for the help we get from above.
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