Blessing of Herbs and Flowers on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God –August 15
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy tonight, Father Iura blessed herbs and flowers brought by the faithful for our feast. Why is this part of our Tradition?
Holy Tradition reveals to us that the Apostles, with the exception of St. Thomas, were transported mystically to Jerusalem in order to be with Mary, the Mother of God –the Theotokos– as she about to repose, and to be present at her burial. When the Apostle Thomas arrived the next day, the Apostles opened the tomb so that he could pay her reverence. The opened tomb revealed the body of the Virgin was missing, and filled with herbs and flowers interpreted as the sweet fragrance of Paradise. The faithful see this a certain sign of Mary’s purity and holiness.
Her passing is commemorated as the Dormition (the falling asleep) which is observed on August 15 preceded by a preparatory fast. The death of Mary’s body doesn’t last as she is believed to be body and soul, physically living the Most Holy Trinity in heaven.
As part of our celebration of Dormition, therefore, the priest blesses herbs and flowers which are used and kept in the homes. The blessing recalls for us the numerous cures and healings given to us by an extraordinary grace bestowed by the Mother of God. Holy Tradition and practice tells us that the herbs are used as natural medicine. During times of family strife or illness, it is a pious custom to place the flower petals in the house censer, together with the incense, and cense the whole house with it.