We are one month away from celebrating the two year anniversary of my “Mondays with Mary” – a series that is on the cusp of its 100th post. Although the majority of this series has focused on Mariology, there have been a few blog posts that were Marian themed, but were not strictly theology. Today’s blog post falls into that second category. With that being said, I think this legend is something that many people don’t know about and really should.
Now that we are officially into the spring season, at least in the northern hemisphere, let’s discuss what spring means for us. The spring season is about new life. For us as Christians, spring is essentially the last step in the Paschal Mystery, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Where winter is the death of the Paschal Mystery; spring is the resurrection.
Many friends of mine have suffered greatly through the long and cold winter that gripped the East and Midwest regions of the United States this year. As much as they enjoy the four seasons, I know they are happy that spring is finally here. With spring, we see green leaves on the trees; in Washington, D.C., we see the cherry blossoms; in Texas, see the blue bonnets, and nearly everywhere we see the beautiful flowers (see the post – The Flowers of the Blessed Virgin Mary) of God’s abundant creation.
Not only do we see flowers and leaves again, but the bugs of God’s creation will find new life as well. The one bug that I have always enjoyed since my days as a child is the ladybug, otherwise known as the ‘Beetles of Our Lady.’
It’s not historically known how the ladybug received its name, but legend tells us that it’s associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary. The story follows that during the Middle Ages in Europe, many, even swarms, of insects began to ravish and destroy the crops. Fearing that their livelihood would suffer and their families would not eat, the farmers began to pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for assistance with the pesky insects. After sometime in prayer, the ladybugs began to descend upon the crops of the farmers, devoured the plant-destroying pests, and saved the crops.
When they realized that the ladybugs had come after praying to the Virgin Mary, the farmers called these beautiful insects – ‘The Beetles of Our Lady.’ From that time forward, these beautiful red and black spotted insects became known as ‘lady beetles’ because the beautiful Virgin and Mother of God sent them to help the farmers. The red wings represented the Virgin’s red clock, often seen in artistic depictions of the Blessed Virgin. The black spots were symbolic of the sorrows and joys of the Virgin Mary. Throughout Europe, there is a wide range of terms for these bugs in the different languages. In Germany, the term, Marienkäfer, translates to “Marybeetle.”
Many people find that ladybugs bring good luck and if one lands on you, you will have years of fortune come your way. Although that seems beneficial to us, I think as Christians we need to view the ladybug a bit differently, and specifically in two ways.
First, as Christians, we believe in the One True God and not in luck or fortune. Non-believers (Pagans) believe in luck and fortune. We Christians don’t need luck or fortune; we have Jesus Christ and His Divine Will. This is why the Catholic Church teaches against superstition. The person who is superstitious is placing their trust in some object or thing and not in Christ Jesus. Instead of saying, “good luck” to someone when they are about to do something (i.e. take a test), we should say instead, “God’s will be done.”
Second, instead of thinking that a ladybug landing on us will bring us fortune, we should do what Christians do for one another and pray for someone that we know needs Our Lady’s intercession and prayers. Just as the farmers asked for the Virgin’s intercession for their crops, when we encounter ladybugs, let us pray for those who need assistance. We must never forget that the Blessed Virgin Mary is our Advocating Queen Mother in Heaven. She will always bring our needs directly to her Son, and our King, Jesus Christ.
So as spring continues into summer, let’s keep a lookout for ladybugs and to pray for those who need prayers by asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every time you see a ladybug, pray a ‘Hail Mary’, ‘Magnificat’, or another favorite Marian prayer for someone in need.
I always thought a ladybug had some spiritual meaning, but I could never find it when I researched it. Everytime I see a ladybug it gives me a sense of peace letting me know that everything is ok and God has it under control. I always said the ladybug is like my white dove from Noah’s ark story the message from God that it was ok to get out and start a new life. I really enjoyed this article thank you for writing it.
In the UK, ladybugs are known as ladybirds, as in “Our Lady’s Birds.” This was because they (like the icon you display) are red. Somewhere along the line, the BVM’s colour shifted from red, to blue and red, to blue.