Saint of the day:
Feast of the Holy Spouses a celebration of the marriage of Joseph and Mary
Patron Saint of married people and marriage
Little is known about the married life of Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary. Only a few episodes are recorded in the Gospels, and each of those focuses on their son, Jesus.
Yet, they are held up by the Church as the prime example of a holy marriage, and remain heavenly patrons for all married couples.
Interestingly, for many centuries there existed a particular feast in the Church’s calendar that celebrated the marriage of Joseph and Mary.
It was called the Espousals of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.
The Cathedral of Our Lady Freiburger Münster
Münsterplatz, 79098 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Stained glass and the bread markings on the front of the church
St. George Church
Altrathauspl. 2, 91550 Dinkelsbühl, Germany
Our father who art in heaven.... give us this day our daily bread....
On the cathedral there are interesting markings that take a keen eye to find. Back in the day, people would come here if they had a issues with the size of their bread. This carving was used to measure the bread – the left carving signified a good size bread, and the right signified a small or bad bread. If the bread was too small the towns people would take the bread inside and tell the church. The church would then bring the baker into the town square and tell the town that he was a cheat. (Search for the carvings on the left side of the entrance to the cathedral!)
Bread is also in other places on the cathedral. The stained glass windows show the coat of arms of the baker's guild in a window on the north side of the Freiburg Minster (cathedral). You can tell which window it is because it shows a little pretiola (reward) in the shape of a “Bretzel” or as Americans call it a pretzel.
The term “tying the knot” has special significance concerning the pretzel. It seems pretzels were introduced into the wedding ceremony. The couple wished upon and broke a pretzel like a wishbone, then they ate it to signify their oneness. A 17th century woodcut copied from a stained glass window in a cathedral in Berne, Switzerland, shows the pretzel being used as the “marriage knot” between two royal families.
The Easter egg hunt may very well be a descendant of the tradition the Germans had at Easter. Pretzels were hidden around the farms for the children to find. They were then served with two hard-boiled eggs on Good Friday. The pretzel symbolized everlasting life and the two eggs nestled in each large hole represented Easter’s rebirth.
At the beginning of the new year, German children tied pretzels on strings around their necks for prosperity, health and good fortune.
So, other than a tasty snack, the pretzel remind us that it is a symbol for excellence in many accomplishments, especially towards children when they pray, and also as a symbol of love, when used as a nuptial knot between couples.