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Posts Tagged ‘Women's History Month’

Happy St David’s Day!

I know, I’d never heard of Saint David either, until this morning. It seems he is the Patron Saint of Wales and March 1st is his day to celebrate everything Welsh. Of course due to Covid restrictions, there will be no annual Dragon Parade, or religious services. And the Ras Dewi Sant marathon has been postponed as well. Darn. But you can still celebrate #GwylDewi remotely on Twitter http://@WalesDotCom or Facebook http://Facebook.com/WalesDotCom or even on Instagram: http://Instagram.com/WalesDotCom.

Why this sudden interest in Wales one might ask? It seems that my DNA Ancestry profile has changed; I’m no longer 99.8% Irish.

…a new twist to my ethnicity investigation popped up when Ancestry announced that it had developed new algorithms “to analyze longer segments of genetic information,” said an Ancestry spokesman, “and better distinguish between adjacent regions.” It also added 13,000 more reference samples.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/was-i-part-british-part-dutch-a-little-bit-jewish-the-oddness-of-dna-tests/2018/11/02/ed51b4c0-d090-11e8-83d6-291fcead2ab1_story.html

Break out the daffodils and leeks, I found out rather abruptly that my ethnicity is 18% Welsh! So maybe the family story I’d heard for years is actually true – my maternal grandfather was a Welshman. This explains so much about the Flapper, and also why I’ve always put leeks in stews. Wales, as soon as we can travel again, I’m heading your way.

Even as a child, I loved reading about saints, in particular women saints. Their stories rivaled any Stephen King novel; if they didn’t marry and give birth to a saint, they were pilloried or burned for not wanting to marry. These saintly women were large and in charge. So in honor of Women’s History Month, I thought we could go way back in time.

Did you know there was a Saint Melania, born in 383? Her life is a lesson in irony.

Born to a wealthy Roman senator, she was married off at the young age of 14. She lost her first two children soon after their births, and convinced her husband to lead a life of “…continency and religious dedication.” In other words, they stopped having sex and gave all of her money away to the Catholic Church. Now that’s a bit bossy, no? As a widow, St Melania settled in Jerusalem and started her own abbey. According to the Church, “...The life of St. Melania reminds us of the fleeting character of earthly wealth. We should strive to emulate her use of wealth as well as talents to further the cause of Christ.”

I wonder if Melania T knows the “fleeting” character of wealth?

Move over Melania, another woman born to nobility is St Patricia of Naples. She absolutely wanted to stay a virgin and become a nun, escaping an impending marriage and her home in Constantinople. She distributed all her wealth to the poor, and it’s said that her blood liquifies on her feast day in August…. and also on Tuesday mornings. Not quite sure how they preserved her blood, but it’s pretty sensational.

There’s a certain pattern here – devote your life to the church and give away all your money. If you happened to be a poor girl, your father might want to stretch you on a wheel, or try drowning you if you refused to marry. But aristocracy had its perks then, as it does now. Wealthy women didn’t get burned at the stake, yet they still managed to become saintly.

Fast forward to Victorian times, and misbehaving women could simply be committed to a Lunacy Asylum by any of their male relatives! Makes you miss the Joan of Arc days. I had never heard of the feminist Edith Lanchester, but her story is compelling. Her father was not happy when his upper-crust daughter informed him she wanted to live, without the benefit of marriage, with her lover a working class Irishman.

“In 1895, Edith’s father and three brothers, along with the services of Dr. George Fielding Blandford, entered Edith’s lodgings. The five men questioned Edith. Dr George Fielding Blandford diagnosed Edith as insane when she argued marriage was immoral, because she’d lose her independence if she married. Edith tried to fight off the men, but her father accosted her and handcuffed her. She was then tied up, hauled into a carriage, and taken to the Priory Hospital in Roehampton, England. Her certificate in the asylum stated her reason for insanity was “over-education.”

https://katdevitt.com/2020/11/30/edith-lanchester-how-a-victorian-feminist-ended-up-in-an-insane-asylum/

Here’s to all our “over-educated” girls. Here’s to “Saint Dolly” Parton, who figured out in the 1950s that the only way for her to claim her authority and independence in country music was to marry young, and then promptly hide her husband out of sight. We here in Nashville love Dolly for giving her money to Vanderbilt for Covid vaccine research and sending each new baby born in TN a book a month. I know she has her own theme park, but how about her statue replacing a Confederate one? I’d light a candle and put flowers at her little stone feet!

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