December 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents, recognized as the first Christian martyrs. On this day the Catholic church commemorates the execution of all children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem under the orders of Herod, king of Judea, in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus, the newborn King of the Jews. According to the apocryphal legends of the New Testament, the edict by Herod led to the Fight into Egypt by the Holy Family in order to keep the newborn safe from Herod’s murderous intent. The Flight into Egypt has been depicted over the centuries by artists all over the world including Polish art and artists.
To the left is the famous 15th century painting by unknown Polish artist titled Mistrz Tryptyk Dominikanskiego (Dominincan Tryptich) from the 15th century located at the National Museum in Kraków. The image became Christmas stamp in Poland in 1974.
Another image is by a later artist named Piotr Stachiewicz that depicts the fleeing family wandering through a Polish village, receiving a bow from a local peasant.
The event was also a theme for Polish folk artists such as this sculpture by artist Tadeusz Adamski.
One of the most popular Polish religious folk legends regarding the Holy Family fleeing from Herod focuses on the hazel tree. The Blessed virgin and Infant hide under its low spreading branches and are saved from King herod's assasins. Perhaps because of its history in protecting the infant Jesus, the leaves of the hazel tree were often used in folk medicine in the care of children, adding it to their bath water to help the children grow strong and to walk early.
Another theme that takes place during the flight was The Rest on the Flight to Egypt, also the subject of paintings by artists around the world. It also rooted itself in Polish legends and beliefs. One is about the herb known as sage. During the time when the Holy Family was fleeing to Egypt from Herod, they took rest near a clump of flowering sage. In order to make the rest of the Holy Family pleasant, the plant scattered all its flowers before Jesus, creating a sweet and aromatic carpet. As a reward, God gave the plant the power to heal all diseases. Ever since, the herb has been tied to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.