From BBC News
6 December 2012 Last updated at 13:51 ET
A rare medieval badge that was found in a field near Preston has been donated to a Lancashire museum.
|Paul King found the badge when he was trying out a new metal detector|
The silver badge, showing one of the companions of St Ursula, was found by Paul King when he was trying out a new metal detector last summer.
They were popular between the late 12th and early 16th Centuries and pilgrims would buy one with a different image of a saint at each shrine they visited.
However, most of these badges were made of lead-alloy, not precious metal.
The shrine of St Ursula is associated with Cologne in Germany, where there is a chapel decorated with the supposed bones of her companions.
Museum manager Charlotte Steels said it was "wonderful to have such a rare object donated to the museum".
Sidebar at BBC:
- Ursula was a British princess, sent abroad to be married to a Pagan prince
- She went on a three year pilgrimage before ending up in Cologne, Germany
- She is said to have taken 11,000 virgins with her
- Her companions were murdered by Huns
- Ursula was killed by an arrow
- She was martyred and became a saint
More like, Ursula and her band of merry virgins were prostitutes who followed soldiers, pilgrims, crusaders, and anyone else who might want to avail themselves of sex for a price. But that's just my cynical take on the subject. Let's see what Barbara Walker has to say about St. Ursula:
Christianized form of Saxon Goddess Ursel, or Horsel, the "Ercel" of Thomas Rhymer's Erceldoune, and the Venus of the Horselberg-Venusberg. Ursel means "She-Bear," the title of Artemis Calliste, the same as the Helvetian Goddess Artio, in the guise of Ursa Major, the Great Bear (Big Dipper), whose constellation circles the pole star without disappearing into the sea. The ancients said Artemis the She-Bear ruled all the stars until Zeus usurped her place. (1)
The mythical St. Ursula was accompanied by eleven thousand virgins, a common pagan image of the Moon-goddess accompanied by her children, the stars. One of the Goddess's foremost shrines was Cologne, where "Ursel" was converted into a Christian heroine to account for the reference paid to her by the local people.
The tale on which Ursula's canonization was based was first invented about the 9th century A.D.;; then, "During the 12th century this pious romance was preposterously elaborated through the mistakes of imaginative visionaries, a public burial-ground uncovered at Cologne was taken to be the grave of the martyrs, false relics came into circulation and forged epitaphs of non-existent persons were produced." (2)
The churchmen claimed that St. Ursula was a Breton princess betrothed to Conon, prince of England, in the 5th century A.D. Prior to her marriage, she took her eleven thousand virgins on a pilgrimage. While passing through Cologne, they were attacked and slaughtered by the Hunds, at the institigation of two Roman generals who feared the Christian ladies' exemplary piety would convert all the northern barbarians to Christ." (3)
This fable was intended to Christianize the lunar bear-goddess worshipped at Cologne, the same who was Artio, the Helvetian "Mother of Animals," with another cult center at Berne ("She-Bear"), where her portrait still appears on the Bernese coat of arms. (4) Ursel and Artio were alternate names of the triple Artemis who took the "bear-king" Arthur to paradise. The Greeks said Artemis Calliste, "Fairest One," was associated with both the moon and the constellation of the Great Bear. In Britain, Ursa Major was often called "Mistress Ursula," at first a title of the Goddess, lator transferred to the saint. (5)
Artemis the She-Bear was so widely recognized as the Mother of Animals that the island once sacred to her, Callista, is still called Therea, "She-Beast." (6) Arcadians traced their descent from her son Arcas, the Little-Bear (Ursa Minor), a bear-god like the Celtic Arthur. Hellenic mytholographers pretended that Arcas's mother was a mere nymph, Calliste, who was punished for losing her virginity by receiving the form of a bear, along with her child, but Artemis took pity on them and placed them in the stars as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. The version of the myth was invented "to account for the traditional connection between Artemis and the Great Bear." (7) The Christian version was invented for different reasons, but with the same ultimae aim: to mortalize the Goddess.
Some memory of Ursula the Moon-goddess deems to haunt the foundation of the Ursuline order of nuns, by St. Angela Merici in 1506. Catholic authorities now claim the Ursulines were the oldest order of teaching nuns. But most convents were centers of learning for women until the church forbade women's education in the 13th century. (8) The Ursulines were perhaps the only order of teaching nuns who remained obedient to the papacy, and so were permitted to continue.
Yet the Ursulines began under a cloud of suspicion. Angela Merici was a native of Brescia, which Pope Calixtus III described as a hotbed of witches. (9) Angela's first group of sisters numbered exactly 28, the lunar number. They made their first devotion in a church dedicated to another mythical saint who was only another transformation of the Goddess, St. Afra or Aphra (Aphrodite). (10) Angela was not allowed to establish her holy society of teachers until forty years had passed since her original vision, which she received not in a church but in an open field under the moon. [Wonder who was with her at the time, woo woo...] She and her women had no religious habit, no vows, no communal life. They went to their pupils' homes to teach, like iternerant governesses. [Yeah, right. Governesses. Sorry, can't help it. This is just too fricking funny!]
The church was not interested in Angela until she underwent "popular" canonization in her home territory. Two centuries later, the church decided to take advantage of the popularity of her cult by declaring her Blessed. Finally in 1807 she was canonized by Pope Pius VII. (11) But she is still almost as vague and dim as the Ursuline lunar She-Bear that the people of Brescia once worshipped. A 20th-century Catholic scholar mentioned here with one of those curious slips of the pen so common among patriarchal writers; he said the Ursuline order was founded by "Bishop Angela of Brescias." (12)
My eyes are shot tonight, can't read the notes -- too tiny! Will add here tomorrow night (does anyone actually read them anyway?)
Notes (added December 15, 2012) -- all notes are from The Woman's Enbcyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker, 1983, Harper San Francisco, ISBN 0-06-250926-8.
1. Graves, G.M. 1, 86.
2. Attwater, 333-34.
3. Goerber, L.R., 66.
4. Larousse, 226.
5. Jobes, 266.
6. Herodotus, 251.
7. Graves, G.M. 1, 84, 86.
8. Bullough, 160.
9. M. Harrison, 240.
10. Attwater, 46.
11. Encyc. Brit. "Angela Merici."
12. Brewster, 459.