Three Freezing Saints and Prayers for Growers

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tulips in snow

Seduction waits in every grocery store, hardware store and garden center: rows of seed packets and vegetables, bushes, flowers and trees in plastic pots, just waiting to be taken home and planted. But in northern or high altitude climes, experienced gardeners warn us to wait, because frost can still cover and kill tender shoots.

With the reform of the liturgical calendar in 1969, rogation days became a single day of prayer for farms and farmers.

For most of us the cost of a late frost is in disappointment and in the purchase of replacement plants. But for farmers who depend on crops to live, a late frost can be devastating.

In the wine-growing region of central Europe, these days, May 11-13, are known as the days of the Three Freezing (or Ice or Frost) Saints. Though the saints — Mamertus, who died in 475, Pancras, who died in 304, and Servatus, who died in 384 — are all early Church saints, only Archbishop Mamertus had any direct connection with agriculture. St. Mamertus began the custom of rogation days, three days before the feast of the Ascension, when people processed through the fields, singing psalms and praying for good growing weather. (“Rogation” comes from the Latin word, “rogare,” which means, “to ask.”)

With the reform of the liturgical calendar in 1969, rogation days became a single day of prayer for farms and farmers, with the day to be determined by the bishops in each country. In the U.S., our day is May 15, when we keep the Memorial of St. Isidore the farmer.

With the passing of these memorials, most gardeners and farmers know it is safe to plant. Let us ask the Freezing Saints to pray for us, especially for an end to the drought in farmlands in California and Texas.

Prayer for Farmers and Gardeners

O God, Source and Giver of all things, Who manifests Your infinite majesty, power and goodness in the earth about us, we give You honor and glory.

For the sun and rain, for the fruits of our fields, for the increase of our herds and flocks we thank You. For the enrichment of our souls with divine grace, we are grateful.

Lord of the harvest, graciously accept us and the fruits of our toil, in union with Christ Your Son, as atonement for our sins, for the growth of Your Church, for peace and charity in our homes, for salvation to all. Amen.