Thursday, November 11, 2010

The beekeeper and St. Martin

supra: painted bee panel at St. Mary (Collinwood), Cle., O.
To-day is St. Martin of Tours. Martin*316, †397, was raised to be a roman soldier. He became a christian, a pacifist christian, and then bishop of the gallican-roman town of Tours. He became a very popular saint.

Anton Janša *1734, †1773, was a successful peasant's son, who first became a painter, and then the austrian imperial beekeeper. Honey had been gathered from logs for centuries, logs became carpentered into hives. Janša stacked removable hives into houses, sort of an apartment building. These are still found in the slovene countryside.

About this time, apiarist farmers began to paint the front panels. People knew that bees were attracted to colors. The painted bee panels (panjske končnice) would help the bees find their homes. Janša being both a painter, and the bee guy; a brother became a professor of painting in Vienna, the capital. Vienna was the center of a polyglot, multi-national empire, it collected the talents of many lands.

The apiary panels are a slovene folk art. Its height was the two generations after the fall of Napoleon. At first the motifs were religious, they eventually became more diverse. The first one was a Marian one. Some stayed purely religious, others picked up folk tales, and some were secularly decorative. Now, these were painted by peasant men, and some of them had accepted the lore of the annoying, and shrewish woman. From Eve being tempted in the Garden, to women being allied to the Devil do show up in scenes, such as a devil sharpening a wife's tongue on a stone grinding wheel.

At the social hall of St. Mary's (Collinwood) there are nine. St. Florian and St. George are great favorites amongst the slovenes, and have a panel. The central panel of the nine is St. Martin.

Martin was first the great saint of traditional France. He suffered greatly under the protestant rebellion (his bodily remains were trashed). The revolutionary republicans destroyed his basilica. Centuries before the vikings destroyed the monastery, in which carolingian minuscule was developed. When world war one* ended on St. Martin's Day, the french saw his intervention.

The most famous story of Martin is that of sharing his cloak with a cold beggar. Later in the day the sun came out and melted the frost away. That what is called "indian summer" in the US, was called St. Martin's summer in the old countries.

At one time, the advent fast began the day after St. Martin's. St. Martin's was a great feast day, a precurssor to american Thanksgiving.

In the panel there is a barrel, and a bottle of wine. The first wine of the harvest was blessed, bottled and drank on St. Martin's. The geese are there for two reasons. Martin did not want to be bishop. He hid amidst geese, and the geese being geese--were noisy. He was found bishop. The big feast was with roast goose.
To-day there is but one combat veteran (Claude Stanley Choules*1901) alive of that war and he is living in Australia, and has no part in military celebrations.

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