Women of History: Sor Juana de la Cruz

Author’s note:  I apologise for the lack of Spanish punctuation.  I haven’t quite figured out the character settings on this blog to do them.

This week we travel to Mexico during the 1600s. Our featured lady of history is Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (Sister Juana Ines of the Cross), a 17th century nun who was an early feminist and poet

Sor Juana Ines was born Juana Ines de Asbaje y Ramriz de Santillana on November 12, 1651 (or possibly 1648). She was born in San Miquel Napantla, a town located in the southern half of Modern Mexico. At the time however, it was known as New Spain, still a colony of Spain. Her hometown was later renamed in her honor as Napantla de Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz) Continue reading “Women of History: Sor Juana de la Cruz”

Happy St Patrick’s Day

I decided to take a break from my usual friday essay on Women of history this week as tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day.  The Day is celebrated differently in different regions of the world, and by various people within the US.  For some it is a religious holiday, a feast celebrating Saint Patrick, and for others it is simply a day to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.

As an American, I am more familiar with the secular version of the holiday then the religious. The day has become a day known for celebrating Irish/Irish-American history and culture as well as a food and drink holiday.  I have Irish ancestry on both sides of my family, but I don’t think that has much to do with why I like Saint Patrick’s day.  However, it’s a day for family and friends to gather around and share good food (most likely Irish in nature) and each other.  The area I live in has a large amount of people of Irish and German descent, so just about everyone can say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”

So who was Saint Patrick?  And why was he connected to Ireland and March 17?  Well, that is what today’s post is about.

St Patrick was a Briton born during the Roman occupation.  While his actual time is debated, it is largely agreed that he was active as a missionary and bishop during the late fifth Century.  According to his own writings, he was not christian until his late teens, when he was taken prisoner in Ireland.

His hometown of Bannavem Taberniae has no modern equivalent so it is hard to say where he was from, except that it was from the British Isles or Northern France.  Many believe that it was southwestern Scotland, near the coast facing Ireland.

Patrick, from his own accounts, was born into a Catholic family.  His father Calpurnius was a deacon as well as a member of the local government, and his grandfather a Catholic Priest.  He himself wasn’t a strong believer, that is not untill he was 16.  At that time, he was captured by a crew of Irish raiders and taken to Ireland.

He lived in Ireland for about six years according to his Confession, before escaping back to his native land. He had spent his time on Ireland as a Sheppard, and strengthening his new-found faith in God.  He believed that God had led him to a ship that would take him home to his family.

He then became a cleric, studying christianity and eventually was ordained as a Priest, possibly by another saint, Germanus of Auxerre.  He claimed to have seen a vision of the people of Ireland calling out to him to lead them in their faith.

He came to Ireland as a bishop, replacing the outgoing Bishop Palladius. It is possible that the two men’s stories have intermingled over the centuries, and the legends of Saint Patrick is actually more a melting pot of Palladius (who was known as Patrick by some) and Patrick.

At some point during his ministry, he was put on trial by his fellow Irish Christians, which prompted him to write his declaration.  He, according to legend, banished snakes from the island, as Ireland was not known to have snakes.  It was more likely a naturally occurring absence.

Some of the common imagery on Saint Patrick’s day are legends in themselves.  The Shamrock,  also known as a clover, was credited as part of a parable that Patrick told to explain the holy Trinity.

Most of Patrick’s life is left to be guessed, due to the loss of any contemporary accounts of his activities other than his own writings, and the possibility that accounts that do remain might be confusing Palladius and Patrick together.

However, the legend of the man might be more important.  He has come to represent Ireland, being one of their patron saints, perhaps the most well-known.  His feast day is celebrated on the day he supposedly died, March 17, and at least in the United States its a day to celebrate being Irish (even if it’s just for a day).

It wasn’t always that way, and the United States has a history of prejudice against the Irish.  But it has come along way.  Saint Patrick’s day has taken a life of its own in the United States and Canada.  In Ireland however, it was only in the last twenty years that the day started to be more than just a religious observance.

So whether you celebrate this day as a religious observance or a cultural one, may you have a great St Patrick’s Day.

Further Reading:

Saint Patrick’s Day (US)

Wikipedia: Saint Patrick

Wikipedia: Palladius

Confession of Patrick – Saint Patrick

Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus – St Patrick

History.com: The History of St Patrick’s Day

 

May is…

May has a lot of observances and awareness connections.  I decided to write about some of them.  There are of course many other observances during May, so here is the list from Wiki if you want to explore more.  I am by no means an expert on any of these, so please research more on your own if you find yourself interested.

Awareness Month

May is set aside for the awareness of several diseases and causes.

Celiac Disease

Celiac (or Coeliac) disease is a autoimmune disease where the small intestine can not properly digest gluten.  It causes damage to the lining of villi, which help digest nutrients.  It can range from discomfort to great pain and other health problems.  This disease is probably getting more known due to gluten-free diet trends.  Gluten can be found in wheat, Rye and Barley.  It is a genetic disorder as well, so it runs in families.

More information:

Celiac.Org

Beyond Celiac.Org

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a serious genetic disorder that effects the major organs, particularly the lungs.  It is caused by a recessive gene mutation, which causes secretions like sweat, digestive fluids and particularly mucus to become thicker.  There is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis, just treatments to treat the symptoms.

More information

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Cystic Fibrosis – Mayo Clinic

Cystic Fibrosis (Wiki)

Mental Health Awareness Month

Awareness of Mental Heath issues is very important.  Misinformation, ignorance of treatment and other factors have led to people not getting the treatment they need, or choosing to refuse treatment because they don’t’ want to be treated poorly for having a mental health issue.  While societal views on mental illness have improved over the last few decades,we have far to go till its treated like any physical illness.

More information

Mental Health America.Net 

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Month Observances

National Pet Month  (US)

National Pet Month is basically a month to recognize the benefits that pets bring to our lives.  It is observed in April in the UK and in May in the US.  It also promotes pet adoption, and animal health.

National Pet Month.Org (UK)

Flores de Mayo

Flores de Mayo is a month long celebration in the Philippines.  It has its roots in Catholic devotions to Mary including daily offering of flowers.  On the last day of the month a pageant is held called the Santacruzan which honors events in Catholic history.  In particular, it celebrates the finding of the true cross by St. Helena.  Young women search for a hidden cross after attending a mass and the one who finds it is designated as Reyna Elena (St. Helena).

Flores de Mayo (Wiki)

Flores de Mayo & Santacruzan – Catholics & Cultures

Single Day/Week Observances

Cinco de Mayo (May 5)

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican-American holiday.  In Mexico, it is a day of observance on a a military victory over French Occupation.  It is usually observed with military parades.  In the United States however it has become a day to celebrate Mexican-AMerican culture.  There is debate on the ethical points of Cinco de Mayo in the United States, however, due to the fact that it was originally a Mexican holiday and the US celebration has nothing to do with the original Mexican.  Also it has a tendency to promote stereotypes and racial issues.

International Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day (May 12)

Chronic Fatigue affects many people, though many go undiagnosed.  Sometimes it is a side effect of another illness, but it can be an issue on its own.  It is often hard to diagnose as there is no blood or lab test that can detect it.  Awareness and research can bring more answers to the cause of Chronic Fatigue

CDC- Chronic Fatigue Awareness Day

Mother’s Day  (May 14 in US)

There are several countries that celebrate Mother’s Day, and its on several different days of the month.  However, since I live in the US I choose to note the date that the US is celebrating.  I’ll be posting a separate post about this one when the day arrives.

Endangered Species  Day (May 19)

Endangered Species day is a day to recognize the efforts that are out there to protect the wildlife on our planet.  Many species have been lost in the last few decades alone, and there are many organizations out there trying to prevent more species from going from endangered to extinct.

US National Fish and Wildlife Service

Ramadan (May 26-June 25)

Ramadan is a religious observance by Muslims, and this year will start May 26/27.   I am by far no expert on Islamic traditions, so I do recommend googling Ramadan and finding out more on your own.  Ramadan is a religious rite that occurs for a month.  It involves daily fasting and focusing on the Quran, their holy book.

Ramadan (wiki)

BBC Religions: Ramadan