Happy Roodmas everyone!

The 3rd of May is the Feast of the Holy Cross, a very old feast of the Church. It is celebrated in Spain with very ornate flowery crosses. In Anglican usage it was celebrated with the lovely name of “Roodmas”; Rood being another name for the cross. Hence “roodscreen,” the ornate separation between the nave and the sanctuary in pre-Reformation churches, with the Crucifixion in a central position.

Rubi tests suitable wild flowers by eating them

The feast celebrates the “Invention” of the Cross – inventio in Latin meaning the discovery – and it refers to the finding of the true cross by Saint Helena on 3rd May 355. The cross had not been used by Christians in the earliest days, as it took the faithful several centuries to come to terms with the horror of the crucifixion. The discovery of the true cross was the start of the rehabilitation of the cross as a symbol, and theologically the beginning of a new understanding of the place of the cross in the economy of salvation. (I don’t usually venture too far into these matters, and I have probably already said enough wrong things to have theologians queuing up to shoot down this blogpost, were it not for the happy circumstance that no theologians read my blog.)

Anyway, it’s only a blog about donkey-assisted flower arranging, so we don’t want to encourage too much heated theological discussion. Here in Spain the Feast of the Cross is the occasion for the Good Ladies of the Parish to create elaborate floral displays. These days they post their photos of the floral crosses on the parish Whatsapp group (which is the only way to see them during the COVID-19 lock down) and of course it all gets very competitive.

Rubí eats all the wild flowers in a meadow while I quickly use the ones she didn’t want to make my floral cross.

Newcomers are not really appreciated, particularly if they are using unorthodox methods (donkeys, wild flowers, Franciscan spirituality, etc.) but Rubí and I had a nice afternoon going out finding our wild flowers and making our floral cross for the El Parral hermitage. The donkeys are very appreciative of this kind of art because it is entirely edible. Happy Roodmas.

Floral cross on the wrong side of the gate to be any use as donkey supper.

A spokeswoman for the Good Ladies of the Parish said, “No, we don’t do it like that. Ever.”

The Peasant fails again. Thank goodness for lock down, eh? At least they don’t have to see it.

5 thoughts on “Happy Roodmas everyone!

  1. Happy Roodmas to you and the donkeys, Gareth! I’ve seen some lovely, intricately carved, roodscreens. I like your display of wildflowers and am very glad that Rubi didn’t eat them all – at least until you took the photos.


  2. The cross looks lovely Dad! It reminds me of Taize. The chapel at Olinda where we used to place wild flowers, for example, and the cross that we made from branches and decorated with wild flowers, for the Friday procession, which we carried back to London. Rubi seems very pleased with her contribution to the wild flower arrangements.


  3. The wild flowers will not last the day, I’m afraid, but that was all they were meant for. The search for the wildflowers was delayed by more than half an hour when Rubí refused to go down a short slope (no more than a metre and a half of easy descent!) She just had one of her moments and there was no way of moving her until she had worked out the problem for herself. I walked up and down it six times to demonstrate it was easy and she watched this with interest, probably thinking, “If I am just going to go down and up like that, there’s not much point in going down at all, is there?” Eventually she just decided it was easy and did it, which is what normally happens in the end. It’s like they just blow a fuse or have a computer failure sometimes.


  4. Yes, there are still some impressive roodscreens left. It’s a very small number compared with the wealth of beautiful artwork that once existed, prior to Henry VIII and the enormous vandalism of those times. PSHE in progress now, ready for tomorrow. I decided I shall stick to my original schedule and just produce PSHE resources up to week ending 22 May (even though the schools will not now return on 25 May.) It was a short term exercise to save busy teachers from some work, and by that time they should have caught up with themselves. If they haven’t, bad luck! It was only meant as a temporary fix and it will be time limited.


  5. Thank you Jabba. The last opportunity to assist at Mass here was on Thursday 12th March (in the second week of Lent), so a full two months ago. I asked the parish priest padre Vicente yesterday when he hoped to make communion available, either from the reserved sacrament or in Mass, and he said next week on 13th May in Santa Anna, Sella. Which will be 9 weeks after the last Mass. Personally, I have found the Prayer of Spiritual Communion very good, and though not to be seen as any real “alternative” at least a powerful solace. I am submitting a provisional Rule this week for consideration by my SD and a canon lawyer, plus my PP, and I don’t like doing this while being temporarily non-communicant: but at least it will not be the final agreed Rule.

    I understand that individual hermit rules under Canon 603 are frequently revised anyway, so it is probably not too big a deal. In this connection, I recently noted that the phrase “hermit in good standing” seems to occasionally come up in the literature. I remember we once had fun with the phrase “deacon in good standing” in some other context… largely to do with sheds in Croydon, if I remember correctly… 🙂

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