Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Pregnancy, Birth, and Miscarriage

a paper1 about "early modern women’s poetry on childbirth and the imminent circumstances of maternal and foetal/infantile mortality in seventeenth century England," its writer describes,

how the focus of childbirth shifted from an innately feminine poetic to masculine poetic in the post Reformation period. From medieval English mysticism, we find miracles and charms associated with childbirth wherein women were encouraged to identify their experience with Marian partum asking for mercy, help and inspiration from the figure of Mother Mary. It is with post Reformation emphasis on identification and supplication to Christ that the tenor of poetic tropes and theological tracts shifts primarily to the masculine godhead and women being urged to identify the partum agony with Eve and her sinfulness.

Of course, we Catholics are perfectly free to go directly to "the masculine godhead" (and to masculine Saints), and we do so, as our novenas and the blessing from the Roman Ritual attests (see below). But focusing on Eve when the "undoer of the knot" of Eve's disobedience reigns as the Queen of Heaven, and to be deprived of the help of the sisterhood (and our brothers) in the Communion of Saints is sad. The point: praise God that we Catholics have the Saints, the angels, their Queen, sacramentals, and blessings to help us through the trials of infertility, pregnancy, and miscarriage.

Becoming Pregnant

For saintly prayers to help in our becoming pregnant, we turn most often to St. Gerard Majella. His shrine in Materdomini, Italy has a room filled with pink and blue bows left by parents grateful for his prayers that helped them become parents. Pilgrimage to his Italian shrine or to its American counterpart at St. Lucy's Church in Newark, New Jersey, and novenas to St. Gerard are just two of the ways we ask for his intercession.

St. Anthony of Padua is yet another Saint we call on for help in trying to conceive. For centuries, Catholic women have been making a novena to him, praying the Thirteen Tuesdays devotion, and praying his chaplet.

If a woman's been trying for a long time to get pregnant, she might turn to St. Rita of Cascia who, like St. Jude, is a Saint of "impossible" causes. She may make a novena to St. Rita, make a triduum to her on three consecutive days or three consecutive Thursdays, or make the Fifteen Thursdays devotion to her on the fifteen Thursdays that precede her feast on May 22.

Above them all, though, is St. Anne, the mother of Mary, and Christ's grandmother. Novenas and litanies prayed to her have been great helps, for centuries, to women wanting children.

And Catholic women can always take heart from Sacred Scripture and extra-canonical writings, which are replete with stories of women who had a hard time conceiving: 
  • Abraham and Sarah, parents of Isaac (Genesis 17)
  • Isaac and Rebecca, parents of the twins, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:19-25)
  • Jacob and Rachel, parents of Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 29-30)
  • Manue and his wife, parents of Samson (Judges 13)
  • Elcana and Anna, parents of Samuel (I Kings 1; I Samuel 1 in Bibles with Masoretic numbering)
  • Zachary and Elizabeth, parents of St. John the Baptist (Luke 1)
  • Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary (The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary)
On the physical side of things, it goes without saying -- or should -- that women should try to be healthy when trying to conceive. Eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, don't drink or smoke too much, etc.2 Their husbands should do the same -- and should wear boxers instead of brief-style underwear to keep the testicles at a cooler temperature which aids in spermatogenesis. A man who wants to be a father should do all he can to lower scrotal temperature so that it is 3 to 7 degrees lower than body temperature (e.g., sit with legs apart, don't wear tightly-fitting pants, don't carry cell phones in pants pockets, opt for cool or tepid showers intead of hot ones, avoid sauna and hot tubs, refrain from being too sedentary, etc.).Men should also avoid soy products and plastics, engage in moderate levels of strength training, and make sure they get enough protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, butter, etc.), and Vitamin D (get some Sun!). Note, too, that green tea is said to help increase sperm concentration (at least it is said to do so in rats).

Once pregnant

Once pregnant, we keep praying to God and His Saints -- most especially St. Gerard -- for a safe pregnancy and delivery. The sacramental of St. Gerard's white handkerchief, if you can get a hold of one, and the already-mentioned devotions are standard, as are the devotions to St. Anthony and St. Rita, prayers to St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Anne, and, as always, the wearing of a crucifix or saint's medal, small sips of and other uses of holy water, blessed salt, etc.This prayer, from "St. Vincent's Manual: Containing a Selection of Prayers and Devotional Exercises" published in 1856, is specifically for pregnant women to pray:

O Lord God, Almighty! Creator of heaven and earth! Who hast made us all out of nothing, and redeemed us by the precious blood of Thy only Son! Look down upon Thy poor handmaid, here prostrate before Thee, humbly imploring Thy mercy, and begging Thy blessing for herself and her child, which Thou hast given her to conceive. Preserve, I beseech Thee, the work of Thy hands, and defend both me and the tender fruit of my womb from all perils and evils. Grant me, in due time, a happy delivery, and bring my child safe to the font of Baptism, that it may there be happily dedicated to Thee, to love and serve Thee faithfully forever.

But, O my God! I have too much reason to fear lest my great and manifold sins should hinder Thee from hearing my prayers, and draw down Thy judgment upon me and mind, instead of the mercies which I sue for: and therefore I am sensible, the first thing I ought to do is, to repent from the bottom of my heart for all my offences, humbly confess them, and continually cry to Thee for mercy. I detest, then, all my sins with my whole heart, and I desire to lay them down at Thy feet, to be effaced for ever. I renounce and abhor them with my whole soul, because they are infinitely odious to Thee; I humbly beg Thy pardon for them all, and I wish, with all my heart, that I had never committed them; I here offer to make what satisfaction I am able for them; and I most willingly acept of whatever I may have to go through in child-bearing, and offer it up now beforehand to Thee for my sins; firmly resolving, by Thy grace, never wllfully to offend Thee more.

See, here, my poor heart, O Lord! and if it be not as I express, at least I desire it should be such: I desire it should be that contrite and humble heart which Thou never despisest. In this disposition of soul, and with a lively confidence in Thy mercies, and in the merits and passion of Jesus Christ Thy Son, I renew the petition I made before, and I once more beg of Thee, for myself, Thy grace and protection, and a happy delivery; and for my child, that Thou wouldst be pleased to preserve it for baptism, sanctify it for Thyself, and make it Thine for ever. Through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son, Our Lord. Amen.

In addition to prayer and sacramentals, our medieval foremothers made use of various rocks and minerals as well. St. Albertus Magnus, in his Mineralis, writes about the power of aetites, known as eagle-stones. These stones are a type of hollow geode which, when shaken, reveals smaller "stones" (bits of broken-off crystal) inside, thus mimicking mother and child. St. Albertus tells us that "suspended on the left arm, it strengthens pregnant women, prevents abortion, and lessens the dangers of childbirth." He also says that gagates (jet) is "good against the pains of childbirth," and that galaricides (milkstone), if bound around the neck, " fills the breasts with milk; and if bound on the thigh it eases childbirth." St. Hildegard of Bingen says3 of sard (i.e., carnelian, a variety of chalcedony -- one of the stones found on the breastplates of Old Covenant priests, and found in the foundations of the Heavenly City as seen by St. John in his Apocalypse):
If a pregnant woman is beset by pain but is unable to give birth, rub sard around both of her thighs and say "Just as you, stone, by the order of God, shone on the first angel, so you, child, come forth a shining person, who dwells with God."

Immediately, hold the stone at the exit for the child, that is, the female member, and say, "Open you roads and door, in that epiphany by which Christ appeared both human and God, and opened the gates of Hell. Just so, child, may you also come out of this door without dying, and without the death of your mother." Then tie the same stone to a belt and cinch it around her, and she will be cured.

When it was time to deliver their babies, our medieval foremothers would also wear "birth girdles" -- 10-feet long, 4-inch wide strips of sheepskin parchment, about the dimensions of a priest's stole -- usually made by the religious, kept in monasteries, and lent out to mothers to be wrapped around the waist or thigh when it came time for their lying-in.4 These girdles were inscribed with prayers and religious imagery to help ensure a safe delivery; common themes were the Holy Name or monogram of Christ; a crucifix; the names of the twelve apostles; the names of the three magi; the names of various Saints (especially St. Margaret of Antioch); invocations to the Blessed Virgin, etc. One inscription from a birth girdle dating to 14754 begins with the instructions "For woman that travelyth of chylde, bynd thys wryt to her thye" and reads:5

In  nomine  Patris  +  et  Filii +   et  Spiritus Sancti  +  Amen.  + Per  virtutem  Domini  sint  medicina  mei pia  crux  et  passio  Christi.  +  Vulnera  quinque  Domini  sint medicina  mei.  + Sancta  Maria  peperit  Christum.  + Sancta  Anna  peperit  Mariam.  +  Sancta  Elizabet  peperit Johannem.  +  Sancta  Cecilia  peperit  Reroigium.  + Arepo  tenet  opera  rotas.  +  Christus  vincit.  +  Christus regnat. + Christus dixit  Lazare  veni  foras. +  Christus imperat.  +  Christus  te  vocat.  + Mundus  te  gaudet. + Lex  te  desiderat.  +  Deus  ultionum  Dominus.  + Deus  preliorum  Dominus  libera  famulam  tuam  N. + Dextra  Domini  fecit  rirtutem.  + Alpha  +  et  Omega. + Anna  peperit  Mariam, + Elizabet  precursorem,  +  Maria Dominum  nostrum  Jesum  Christum,  sine  dolore  et  tristicia. O  infans  sive  vivus  sive  mortuus  exi  foras  + Christus  te  vocat ad  lucem. + Agyos. +  Agyos.  + Agyos.  + Christas  vincit. +  Christus  imperat. +  Christus  regnat. +  Sanctus  + Sanctus  + Sanctus  +  Dominus  Deus.  + Christas  qui es + qui  eras,  +  et  qui  venturus  es. + Amen, bhurnon +  blictaono +  Christas  Nazarenus  + Rex Judeorum  fili  Dei +  miserere  mei  + Amen.

Rich women would have their own birth girdles -- elaborately ornamented -- that would have undoubtedly been passed down to their daughters, and to their daughters' daughters after them.6 This very ancient tradition could be easily revived: people who can embroider could make especially beautiful birth girdles, perhaps on lengths of silk or cotton cloth, with the above inscription, or with St. Anthony's Brief, appeals to SS. Gerard, Anthony, Margaret of Antioch, the Blessed Virgin, or any other favorite Saint. It could be adorned with Christian symbols, and depictions of flowers like meadowsweet (Our Lady's Belt), morning glories (Our Lady's Mantle), ox-eye daisies (Mary's star, which is said to have shown the Magi where the Baby Jesus could be found), poinsettia (the Nativity Flower), strawberries (Fruitful Virgin), and other plants that derive their common names from Our Lady, Christ, and the Saints (see the Mary Gardens page for more ideas).

Along the same lines, Irish women would make use of a "Bratog Bride" -- a strip of cloth blessed by St. Brigid on the eve of her feast.

As an aside, just for fun, and while on the topic of old childbirth practices, I must mention the custom of looping a piece of thread through a pregnant woman's wedding ring and holding it as still as possible over her belly like a pendulum. The ring will at some point start moving, and by its movements, the old wives who tell us these things say, indicate the sex of the child: if it moves back and forth, it is said to be a boy; if it moves in a circle, it's said to be a girl. (One more aside, just for fun: did you know that the events of the fairy tale "Rapunzel" are set in motion by a pregnant woman's insatiable cravings for rampion bellflower, a.k.a. rapunzel  -- Campanula rapunculus -- a plant whose leaves are eaten as greens, and whose roots are eaten like radishes? The story here in pdf format: Rapunzel.  Oh, and if you want to read an amusing, very late 17th c. woman's account of a man trying to cater to his wife's pregnancy cravings, see this excerpt from The Ten Pleasures of Marriage.)

OK, back to more serious matters:7 it goes without saying that the Church has a blessing for pregnant women -- Benedictio Mulieris Praegnantis in periculis partus -- and it is this priestly blessing that should be sought above all else. The text as it appears in the 1903 Rituale Romanum:

S: Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini.

R: Qui fecit caelum et terram.

S: Salvam fac ancillam tuam.

R: Deus meus sperantem in te.

S: Esto illi Dómine turris fortitúdinis.

R: A fácie inimici.

S: Nihil proficiat inimicus in ea.

R: Et filius iniquitas non appónat nocére ei.

S: Mitte ei Dómine auxilium de sancto.

R: Et de Sion tuere eam.

S: Domine exaudi oratiónem meam.

R: Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

S: Dominus vobiscum.

R: Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui dedisti fámulis tuis in confessione verse fidei aeternae Trinitátis gloriam agnóscere, et in pótentia majestátis adoráre unitátem: quaesumus; ut ejúsdem fidei firmitáte haec fámula tua N. ab ómnibus semper muniátur advérsis. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

R: Amen.

Oremus. Dómine Deus, omnium Creátor, fortis et terribilis, justus et misericors, qui solus bonus et pius es; qui de omni malo liberásti Israel, fáciens tibi patres nostros dilectos, et sanctificásti eos manu Spiritus tui; qui gloriósae Virginis Mariae corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitáculum éffici mererétur, Spiritu sancto cooperánte praeparásti; qui Joánnem Baptistam Spiritu sancto replésti, et in útero matris exsultáre fecisti: áccipe sacrificium cordis contriti, ac fervens desidérium fámulae tuae N., humiliter supplicántis pro conservatióne prolis, quam ei dedisti concipere: custódi partem tuam, et ab omni dolo et injuria duri hostis defénde; ut obstetricánte manu misericordiae tuae foetus ejus ad lucem próspere veniat, ac sanctae generatióni servétur, tibique in ómnibus jugiter déserviat, et vitam cónsequi meredtur aetérnam. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat, etc.

R: Amen.

Deinde Mulier aspergatur aqua benedicta,
et interim dicatur:

Psalmus 66

Deus misereátur nostri, et benedicat nobis * illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri. Ut cognoscámus in terra viam tuam: * in ómnibus gentibus salutáre tuum. Confiteántur tibi populi Deus: * confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes. Laetentur et exsultent gentes: * quóniam júdicas pópulos in aequitate, et gentes in terra dirigis.
Confiteántur tibi pópuli Deus: confiteantur tibi pópuli omnes: * terra dedit fructum suum. Benedicat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedicat nos Deus: * et metuant eum omnes fines terrae.

Gloria Patri. Sicut erat.

S: Benedicamus Patrem, et Filium, cum sancto Spiritu.

R: Laudémus et superexaltémus eum in saecula.

S: Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te.

R: Ut custódiant te in ómnibus viis tuis.

S: Dómine exaudi oratiónem meam.

R: Et clamor meus ad te véniat.

S: Dóminus vobiscum.

R: Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus. Visita, quaesumus Domine, habitationem istam, et omnes insidias inimici ab ea, et a praesenti famula tua N. longe repelle: Angeli tui sancti habitent in ea, qui eam et ejus prolem in pace custódiant, et bene+dictio tua sit super eam semper. Salva eos, omnipotens Deus, et lucem eis tuam concede perpétuam. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

R: Amen.

Benedictio Dei omnipoténtis, Patris +, et Filii +, et Spiritus + sancti, descéndat super te, et prolem tuam, et máneat semper.

R: Amen.
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

R: Who made heaven and earth.

P: Save your handmaiden.

R: Who trusts in Thee, my God.

P: Let her find in Thee, Lord, a tower of strength.

R: In the face of the enemy.

P: Let the enemy have no power over her.

R: And the son of iniquity be powerless to harm her.

P: Lord, send her aid from Thy holy place.

R: And from Zion watch over her.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

R: And let my cry come unto Thee.

P: The Lord be with thee.

R: And with thy spirit.

Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, Who enable us, Thy servants, in our profession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the three Persons in the eternal Godhead, and to adore Their oneness of nature, Their co-equal majesty; grant, we pray, that by steadfastness in that faith this servant of Thine, N., may ever be guarded against all adversity; through Christ our Lord.

R: Amen.

Let us pray. Lord God, Creator of all things, mighty and awesome, just and forgiving, Thou alone are good and kind. Thou hast saved Israel from all manner of plagues, making our forefathers Thy chosen people, and hallowing them by the touch of Thy Spirit. Thou, by the co- operation of the Holy Spirit, has prepared the body and soul of the glorious Virgin Mary to be a worthy dwelling for Thy Son. Thou hast filled John the Baptist with the Holy Spirit, causing him to leap with joy in his mother’s womb. Accept the offering of a humble spirit, and grant the heartfelt desire of Your servant, N. who pleads for the safety of the child Thou hast allowed her to conceive. Guard the life that is Thine; defend it from all the craft and spite of the pitiless foe. Let Thy gentle hand, like that of a skilled physician, aid her delivery, bringing her offspring safe and sound to the light of day. May her child live to be reborn in holy baptism, and continuing always in Thy service, be found worthy of attaining everlasting life; through Christ Thy Son, Who lives and reigns, etc.

R: Amen.

The priest sprinkles the woman with holy water
and then adds the following:

Psalm 66

May God have mercy on us and bless us; * may He cause the light of His countenance shine upon us and have mercy on us. That we may know thy way upon earth: Thy salvation in all nations. Let people confess to Thee, O God: let all people give praise to Thee. Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for Thou judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon earth. Let the people, O God, confess to Thee: let all the people give praise to Thee: The earth hath yielded her fruit. May God, our God bless us, * May God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear Him.

Glory be to the Father. As it was in the beginning.

P: Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

R: Let us praise and glorify Him forever.

P: God has given His angels charge over thee.

R: To guard thee in all thy paths.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

R: And let my cry be heard by Thee.

P: The Lord be with you.

R: And with thy spirit.

Let us pray. Lord, we beg Thee to visit this dwelling, and to drive away from it and from this servant of Thine, N., all the enemy’s wiles. Let Thy holy angels be appointed here to keep her and her offspring in peace; and let Thy blessing ever rest upon her. Save them, almighty God, and grant them Thy everlasting light; through Christ our Lord.

R: Amen.

May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, come on thee and thy child, and remain with you forever.

R: Amen.

Once your baby is born, you should have him baptized as soon as possible. To do this, you'll need to have godparents -- two baptized Catholics -- one male, one female -- who are over the age of fourteen and willing to take seriously the job and honor of godparenting (read more about that on the page about Baptism). Because Baptism is a very urgent matter, you need to think about who your child's godparents will be early on; don't wait until your baby is born. Then, after your baby is  properly sponsored by godparents and baptized, you may want to undergo the rite of the Churching of Women when your lying-in period is over.

A woman's lying-in can last as little as a few days to up to a few months, all depending on the health of the mother and the sort of support system she has. Ideally, she will have a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, or friend to come stay with or at least visit her daily for a few weeks in order to help cook, tidy, and care for the baby while her body heals (in Latin America, lying-in -- called a cuarantena -- lasts for 40 days). Truly, extended family and community are so very important! Perhaps to make up for the dearth of these things these days, older women could offer their help through their parishes, and new mothers could seek that help through the same.

Gift-giving for new babies is handled differently in different cultures. In the United States, a friend of the expectant mother will throw her a party called a "baby shower." At these showers, which are traditionally female-only affairs, women gather to celebrate, give advice, tell birthing "war stories," bring baby gifts (clothing, diapers, toys, books, etc.), eat (cake is always involved), and play games. These showers typically take place about a month before the baby's due date. In other places, such as Italy, France, and Bulgaria, it's considered unwise or "bad luck" to buy anything for a baby until the baby is born, so gift-giving waits.


Sometimes, God, either passively or positively, wills that a given child not be born. About 20% of pregnancies end in fetal death -- around 80% of those in the first thirteen weeks. It's such a common experience -- but a potentially devastating one. With that number of miscarriages, consider how many women have endured such a loss -- women whose pain is exacerbated by turbulent hormonal changes, not unlike those that can cause post-partum depression. And consider how their grief is so often overlooked by the world.

Consider, too, the men whose children were conceived but not born, and whose suffering is even more ignored than that of their wives.

Added to the agony a parent feels for the loss of a baby in itself is the pain of the loss of a vision had of oneself -- of one's future, of one's family's future, of what one thought would be. And, for those with no other children, there's the pain of the loss of a sense of oneself as a mother or father. Even unwarranted feelings of inadequacy can be mixed into the emotional lot, making parents feel guilt or shame after losing their child, as if they've done something wrong, failed to do something right, or just aren't "good enough" to bring a child into the world. There's the guilt, too, of those who may feel a sense of relief mixed in with grief -- relief from fear of childbirth or of becoming a parent, or relief from worries about adding another child to an already large family. Such mixed emotions can be torturous for some.

The loss of an unborn child is like the loss that comes with anyone's death. But it comes with a type of mourning that is usually kept to oneself or between the two parents: there are no grand funerals, no wakes, no sympathy cards or flowers; there are just the mother and the father, and a profound emptiness that can subsume them if they don't order their emotions.

Then there is the question "Where is our baby now? What is his fate? Will we see him again?" The Church simply doesn't have definitive answers to those questions. We know that the Sacrament of Baptism is normatively required to enter the Church, which is the ark outside of which there is no salvation. We know that God is perfectly Good, Just, and Merciful. And we also know that while we are bound to God's Sacraments, God is not bound by them.

Given these premises, theologians speculate. Some posit the possibility that the souls of these little ones go to the Limbus infantium, usually just called "Limbo" -- a place of perfect natural happiness. There, they have all they need to be completely content and at peace. Other theologians believe that it's also possible that God provides what's needed to effect the graces of the Sacrament of Baptism in a way known only to Him so that these babies go to Heaven proper. We simply can't know while on this side of the veil.

But we can hope. And we can pray. And we can know that, at the very least, these innocents are at peace and experiencing a beautiful natural happiness. We can know, too, that God wills precisely the right things, and that He made us -- and your baby -- to be. We need to trust in Him and submit to His Holy Will. To that end, you might find some help in reading two 17th century poems: one written by a woman named Mary Carey, after having suffered a miscarriage, and the other written by her husband on the same topic. The sentiments expressed in the seventh stanza of hers -- "his will's more deare to me; then any Child" -- and the entirety of his are key to overcoming the grief of losing a child.

Also key is the simple act of grieving. "Simple" -- but not easy, and a right you may have to fight for: don't let anyone make you feel as if you're making "too big a thing" of losing a baby you never got to meet the way you wanted. Grieve! Name your baby if you want to. If you have his body, bury him with dignity, if you desire (this can be done at home or with the help of professionals). Reach out to friends and to your church. Don't shut your spouse out, and don't expect your spouse to grieve in the same way you do; talk to each other and be patient with each other. Take all the time you need as you work through the pain and become able to say, with Christ and with equanimity, "Thy will be done."


1 Chaturvedi, Namrata. "Pain, Partum and Prayer: The Dis-ease of Motherhood in Early Modern English Literature." Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities. Vol. 13, No. 2, April—June, 2021. 1-15

2 I'm not a doctor, but I encourage you to look into Lydia Pinkham tablets, an herbal supplement that's been around since 1875 and which generations of women have sworn by for help with almost any sort of "female trouble." Menstrual irregularity, menstrual cramps, bloating, premenstrual syndrome, infertility, the hot flashes and night sweats of menopause -- Lydia Pinkham may help it all. Everyone's different, and nothing works for every individual, but, well, read the reviews for the product and talk to your doctor.

Mount, Tony. "Dragon's Blood & Willow Bark: The Mysteries of Medieval Medicine." Amberley Publishing Limited. April, 2015

4 Observations on the popular antiquities of Great Britain . Vol. 3 : chiefly illustrating the origin of our vulgar and provincial customs, ceremonies, and superstitions, by Brand, John, 1744-1806

5 Translation: "In the name of the Father + and the Son + and the Holy Spirit + Amen + By the power of the Lord let the Cross and the Passion of Christ be my medicine + Let the five wounds of the Lord be my pious medicines + Mary begot Christ + Anne begot Mary + Elizabeth begot John + Cecilia begot Remigius + Arepo tenet opera rotas + Christ conquers + Christ rules + Christ said “Lazarus, come forth!” + Christ commands + Christ calls you + the world rejoices in you + the light desires you + God of vengeance + God, Lord of hosts, deliver Thy servant N. + The right hand of the Lord has been made strong + a. g. l. a. + Alpha + and Omega + Anna begot Mary + Elizabeth’s precursor + Maria begot our Lord Jesus Christ, without pain and sorrow. O infant, whether alive or dead, come forth! + Christ calls you to the light + holy + holy + Christ conquers Christ commands + Christ rules + holy + holy + holy + Lord God + Christ Who art, Who was + and Who is to come + Amen, bhurnon + blictaono + Christ of Nazareth + King of the Jews, Son of God + have mercy on me + Amen."

I have no idea what "a.g.l.a.," "bhurnon" and " "blictaono" mean. "Arepo tenet opera rotas" is an ancient early Christian palindrome found in what's known as the Sator Square, which can be read in any direction:

R O T A S    S A T O R
O P E R A    A R E P O
T E N E T    T E N E T
A R E P O    O P E R A
S A T O R    R O T A S

Its precise meaning is widely disputed and fascinating to read about. My favorite interpretation, though, is that it is meant to convey "The Creator, the Author of all things, maintains His works."

6 Analysis of many medieval birth girdles has revealed the presence of milk, honey, egg, and "a large number of human peptides...many of which are found in cervico-vaginal fluid." See "Girding the loins? Direct evidence of the use of a medieval English parchment birthing girdle from biomolecular analysis" in The Royal Society Open Science. published 10 March 2021. Source: Retrieved 15 September 2022.

7 "More" serious because pregnancy cravings are serious indeed. Men, we send you letters and care packages if you're off to war, and you get us burritos at 3AM when we're pregnant. Good trade.

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