Our Lady’s Bug
Today, while in prayer after receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, Jesus inspired me to tell you the following heart- warming story which I experienced some years ago, a story which reveals His Mother’s tender love and concern for and gentle presence with her dear children throughout the ages. In prayer the Lord brought to mind my young God-daughter and niece, Alenka, who will be turning 13 this summer. Jesus is prompting me to send her a lovely little ladybug devotional bracelet with a Cross and an image of our Lady of Grace connected by a string of little red ladybug beads, which I was wearing today at Mass. This devotional bracelet was given to me A couple of years ago by a Catholic friend, after I shared with her my experience with our Mamma Mary and some ladybugs during Easter. To my delight and surprise, my friend told me that the ladybug (also known as a ladybird and a ladybeetle) has an historical connection with our Blessed Mother Mary because of a miracle she performed in Europe in the Middle Ages.
(From Catholic.org, article dated October 30, 2004) “The original name of the ladybug is “Our Lady’s Bug.” It seems that during the Middle Ages, a plague of small insects (aphids) attacked the crops, threatening Europe with starvation. The people had recourse to Our Lady, and petitioned her to save them from this plague. In answer to their prayer, a cloud of small, black-spotted, orange-red insects arrived and promptly ate all the offending pests. The grateful population gave to them the name, “Our Lady’s Bugs.” News of this miracle spread and a comparison of over 40 languages, including different dialects, this small beetle was given a great variety of names, referring to Our Lady and God such as: “God’s Little Cow” (Dievo Karvute, Lithuanian; Vaquilla de Dios, Spanish); “Dear God’s Little Creature” (Lieve Heersbeestje, Dutch);
- Ye Mariam Tinziza … “Mary’s Beetle”, Amharic (West Ethiopia);
- Arca de la Mare de Deu…“Mother of God’s Ark”Catalan;
- Gallinetta de la Mare de Deu… “Mother of God’s Chicken” …Catalan
- Bubamara … “Mary’s Beetle” …Croatian
- Mariehøne … “Mary’s Hen” …Danish (and Norwegian, if the ‘e’ is made an ‘a’)
- Onzer-lieve-vrouwe Beestje… “Our Dear Lady’s Little Creature” …Dutch
- Bete de la Vierge … “The Virgin’s Creature” …French
- Frauenkäferlein … “Our Lady’s Little Beetle” …German (Bohemia)
- Scarpa de la Madona … “The Madonna’s Shoe” …Italian (Turin)
- Kafsch Dus … “God’s Beetle” …Persian (Iran)
- Boul-popei … “The Pope’s Ox” …Romanian
- Jungfru Maria Nyckelpiga… “Virgin Mary’s Key Maid” …Swedish.”
I had no idea how universal this association between the ladybug and our Blessed Mother Mary and God is! I just knew that our Lady had revealed her Presence and tender care for me through a ladybug!
Here is my story. While living in Pennsylvania, during the winter months, I would find some ladybugs in our bedroom on the curtains and window frames. Somehow they had crawled in through small crevices/cracks, seeking warmth inside our home from the harsh winter cold. The first winter I saw them, I paid no attention to their plight because I didn’t understand that they would not survive inside, as they would dry out from the heating. They should’ve been hibernating outside under the earth for the winter where their body temperatures would drop and their internal system would slow down until the first warmth of spring when they would awake and come out of hibernation. Those ladybugs that had come into a heated home, their bodies would not know to hibernate, rather they would simply dehydrate and die. The second winter that I saw the lovely ladybugs inside my house, I was curious about them and so I looked up on the Internet information about ladybugs and learned that in order to be humane it would be necessary to build a terrarium. One must place the ladybugs in the terrarium and provide water and honey for them to survive until spring when they could be released. I worked very hard on this and created a beautiful terrarium with twigs and earth and leaves in a glass container with a aerated lid for the seven ladybugs that I rescued that second winter. I provided them with fresh water and honey daily, using plastic bottle caps for their little bowls.
I became a caring mother to the seven ladybugs from November until April. Occasionally some of them would manage to get out of the lid, and in a panic I went looking for them all over the house, knowing that if they did not return to the terrarium they would dry out and die. I did find them, usually on the windows, and replaced them in their temporary home. One of them even laid eggs in the terrarium, so I knew that they were male and female, although I could not tell them apart. It was a joyful labor of love for the six months of winter looking after these little creatures of God, although my husband and children did not understand why I should care about “just bugs”. But I have the spirit of Saint Francis, and I care about every living creature no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. To me all life is sacred and beautiful. I discovered that one can become attached even to ladybugs, as love does not discriminate!
The week of Palm Sunday approached, and our family had plans to make a trip to Chicago to visit our older daughter. I found myself faced with the dilemma. Should I release the ladybugs outside since I would not be there for the week to provide water or honey for them? The temperature did not yet seem warm enough to release the ladybugs outside. What would happen if I left them for the duration of the trip in the terrarium and they dried out due to lack of water? I didn’t know what was the best course of action to take. I had been doting on them for six months and I couldn’t bear the thought that it would have all be in vain, that they would either die outside or inside if I made the wrong decision about their care. I sought guidance from the Lord on this matter. Ultimately, my sense was that they should be kept inside the terrarium until I got back. We left on our trip to Chicago. The weather took a sudden turn, and temperatures rose dramatically. I thought how I should have let them out. But how was I to know? I worried that the temperature inside the house without the air conditioning on would rise and the terrarium would dry out quickly and I would return to dead ladybugs. Remarkably the temperatures outside climbed into the nineties in Pennsylvania during that week!
There I was in Chicago and there was nothing I could do but pray for my precious ladybugs to survive. My husband, my daughters and I were walking through Millennium Park in Chicago on that very hot afternoon in mid week of our trip. I thought about the ladybugs in their dry as a bone glass terrarium with shriveled and brown leaves and clippings.
I lifted my heart up to our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God , Help of Christians, and approached her Immaculate and Holy Heart in prayer right there in Millennium Park with all trust and confidence as my loving and caring Mother and indeed, the Mother of All the Living, appealing to her for protection of the little creatures that I had left back in Pennsylvania. I prayed out loud, and my daughters witnessed my call on her powerful intercession. Immediately after this deep and sincere cry from my heart, a ladybug landed on my hand!! I rejoiced while showing this miracle to my husband and daughters.
This was beyond astounding! I praised the God of heaven and His Mother for their awesome Love and power. I believed in faith that all would surely be well with my ladybugs when I returned to Pennsylvania.
Several days later we arrived back at home and I found a bone dry terrarium filled with shriveled, dry and crumbling leaves and not a drop of water. But the ladybugs were there safe and fully alive! I released them on Easter Sunday morning into a pink flowering tree while praising Our Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, and Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!