On May 21st, St. Paul’s celebrated Rogation Sunday. We had beautiful weather for the event, as evidenced by the photos that were taken that day by parishioner Christine Wright.
What is Rogation Sunday, you ask?
The word “rogation” comes from the Latin rogare, which means
“to ask”, and the Rogation Days are days set apart to bless the fields and ask for God’s mercy on all of creation. On these days, the congregation would process around the boundaries of the parish,blessing every tree and stone, while chanting or reciting a Litany of Mercy, usually a Litany of the Saints. Some still do.
The Rogation Days were first instituted in the 5th Century by
Mamertus, bishop of Vienne in France from 461 to 475. During his episcopate, France was in an almost continuous state of near-disaster. The Goths invaded Gaul. There was an enormous amount of disease; there were fires, earthquakes and attacks by wild animals. As a result, Mamertus spent a great deal of time in prayer,
beseeching God to help the stricken community.
One night, when the village was overwhelmed with a fire, he
conceived the idea of instituting an annual procession and litany in which the entire community would pray for God’s blessing and protection. He is reported to have said: “We shall pray to God that
He will turn away the plagues from us, and preserve us from all ill, from hail and drought, fire and pestilence, and from the fury of our enemies; to give us favorable seasons, that our land may be fertile,good weather and good health, and that we may have peace and tranquility, and obtain pardon for our sins.”
Thus the custom of processing around the entire length of the
parish began. Over the centuries, it became the custom to also use the procession to “beat the bounds” – to mark and establish the boundaries of the parish – while also blessing the trees, stones and fields.
At St. Paul’s we continue a form of this practice, processing around the church property and asking blessings on the seed, fields, workers, animals, families, and remembering the departed.
Aren’t you glad you asked?