A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Grain in Beard (Mang Zhong, Grain in Ear, 芒种, wheat grows ripe). This 9th Chinese Solar term with the Sun at 75° is the 3rd of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the last before the Summer Solstice on 21 June. The crops are ripe and farmers start harvesting grains, the sayings being: “Getting busy with farm work in Grain in Ear,” and: “If you don’t plant rice in Grain in Ear, planting will be in vain.” Continuous Plum Rains with cloudy conditions to ripen the plums in the 4th and 5th Lunar months from 12 May to 9 July led to the tradition of boiling green plums, with the ritual offering of coloured breads on the 5 June 1st day of Grain Ear in some Provinces of China to ensure a good harvest. During this Solar term, the Chinese usually celebrate the Dragon Boat (Duanwu, Double Fifth) Festival on 14 June, the 5th day of the 5th Lunar month unless a leap month is intercalated as in 2020 when the date was moved from the 4th Lunar month to 25 June. In Anhui province, after seeding the rice paddies, people steam dumplings of fresh wheat flour, making different shapes such as cereals, animals, vegetables and fruits, colour them and pray for villagers’ safety. In past times, as the flowers withered away people sacrificed to the God of Flowers to show their gratitude and their wish to see the flowers again the following year. Chinese doctors recommend eating mulberry, which over 2 millennia ago was considered as a royal and holy food with many dietary advantages. Image: ⓒ FENG SHUi iSM.
St Michael of Synnáda (Michael the Confessor, Μιχαὴλ ὁ ὁμολογητής, Michahel episcopus) (d826). Orthodox and Catholic Churches’ commemoration of Metropolitan Bishop who represented Byzantium in diplomatic missions. Michael was ordained by Tarasios, the Patriarch of Constantinople in the late-8th-Century, and sent to a monastery Tarasios had founded on the shores of the Bosporus. Tarasios then named Michael Metropolitan Bishop of Synnáda and sent him to the 787 Second Council of Nicaea, where he is recorded in all the sessions. Michael was sent by Emperor Nikephoros I to Charlemagne around 802, to ratify the peace treaty between the two. In 806, Michael was sent as a peace envoy when the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid launched a large-scale invasion of Asia Minor. In 811/2, Michael went to Charlemagne in Aachen on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabe to renew the peace treaty. Michael clashed with Emperor Leo V the Armenian over Leo’s re-adoption of iconoclasm in 815 and was arrested and exiled to Eudokias (Pamphylia, Παμφυλία), where he died. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church and Orthodoxy, being praised in the 843 Synodikon of Orthodoxy. Feast Day 23 May. Image: johnsanidopoulos.com.
Wynfrith of Crediton (St Boniface, Apostle of Germany, Bonifatius) (680-754). Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican Communion Feast Day and Lutheran Commemoration for Saxon missionary to Germany who was born in Anglo-Saxon Crediton and educated in Benedictine monasteries in Exeter and then in Nhutscelle (Nursling), where he became head of the school and compiled the first-ever Latin grammar. Ordained a priest at 30, he went at 36 as a missionary to Friesland but his first mission was unsuccessful and he returned to Wessex to be offered the position of Abbot of Nursling, which he declined before going to Rome. In 719, Pope Gregory II commissioned him as a missionary to Germany, giving him the name Boniface (maker of good deeds). The commission was to Hesse, Friesland and Bavaria, and involved using the Roman, rather than the Celtic Christian, formula for baptism. In 722, Boniface was consecrated Bishop, without a see, to preach to the heathen east of the Rhine and his mission continued in Thuringia, where he established convents and started to create a disciplined system of churches. On his arrival in Hesse, he found half-believers with many residual pagan customs and announced that he would destroy their gods by felling a sacred giant oak dedicated to Thor, the tree falling to the ground in the shape of a cross. In its descent, the oak crushed all the other trees around except for a single small fir that is possibly the origin of the Christmas tree. In the years that followed, Boniface organised dioceses and provinces for the Pope in other areas of Germany, seeking from the Christian Saxons of England money, books and monks to help him in preaching and teaching. In 732 Boniface was consecrated Archbishop, again without a see, to organise the hierarchy of the Church in Bavaria and create 4 new sees. Boniface went on to found other sees at Erfurt, for Thuringia, Buraburg, for Hesse and Wurzburg for Franconia, and then established a see at Nordau in Eichstau. In 741, Boniface founded the Abbey of Fulda and in 745 he was given Mainz as his see, being created Primate of All Germany. In 753, Boniface went on a mission to Friesland, and his life ended in martyrdom at the hands of a pagan band, who killed him near Dokkum as he was reading to a group of new converts on Pentecost Sunday. His body was taken to Fulda, where it still rests. He is described as the Apostle of Germany, is greatly revered in Holland and has been dubbed the greatest Englishman of all time and the Englishman who has had a greater influence on the history of Europe than any other Englishman, even if in England he is not greatly known today. Venerated in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism. Major shrines Fulda Cathedral, St Boniface Catholic Church, Crediton. Patron of Fulda, Germania, England (Orthodox Church, jointly with Sts. Augustine of Canterbury and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne). Image: creditoncourier.co.uk.