Vestalia

Felicitas. Today begins the festival of Vestalia, which will last through 15 June. In ancient times it meant that the inner sanctum of the House of Vesta would be opened to the matrons of Rome. They were led by the Flamenica Dialis who was the wife of the high priest of Jupiter. Normally throughout the year she would be adorned in the manner of a bride, veiled and with a special hairstyle for marriage.  But during this festival she would wear her hair down as though in mourning. She was not al … [Read more...]

Mos Maiorum

Tradition is never static. It flows with many currents in and around obstructions, sometimes even in contradictory directions. Little pools may form at high water, becoming separated later from the main stream, just as sects may break off from a tradition, only to stagnate and eventually dry up, but the mainstream tradition continues to evolve, adapt, adopt as it moves further on. Rather than looking backward on a fixed time in the history of a religious tradition, often time it is the tradition … [Read more...]

First Sunday

When first I attended school in the 1950's one only had a choice between the decidedly Protestant public schools or the Catholic parochial schools. Neither were accommodating to non-Christians. I recall one time when a group of Catholic students transferred to public school and a teacher humiliated them for not knowing their school prayers as they were said by Protestants. Then there was a time when we found a boy tied to our tree in the front yard. The neighborhood boys had done it because he … [Read more...]

Casting Faith to the Winds

Discussion of the religio Romana today usually centers on matters of a superficial importance.  Topics of discussion concern poetic myths and philosophical speculations on the nature of the Gods, calendars of festival days, the priesthoods of ancient Rome, the little that is known about rites once performed for the Gods, and those few details of Roman practice that we might possibly recover today.  Roman authors were not writing for modern reconstructions, of course, so they did not have to e … [Read more...]

Lemuria, Day Two

Grant, O Gods, that the earth may lie soft and gently upon the shades of our ancestors, and may their urns be filled with a perpetual springtime blooming with the sweet scents of crocus.The second day of Lemuria is held five days before the Ides of May. As with other Roman festivals, the Lemuria is held on alternating days because odd-numbered days were considered fortunate. Perusius, quoted above (Satura 7.207-208), again expresses a Roman conception of the afterlife in an eternal Spring. … [Read more...]

Rosalia

On 10 May, and again on 31 May, the Roman legions at Duro Europa celebrated the Rosalia. This again connects the flowers of Spring with rituals for the dead, only this time the rituals were performed by military units for their fallen comrades rather than for family members. We learn of this celebration first with a military calendar from Syria. We do not know if the Rosalia was celebrated on the same dates by other legions throughout the Roman Empire, but we hear descriptions of the Rosalia in … [Read more...]

Lemuria

Spring seems to have finally arrived warm and sunny. Each year brings a new surprise and this year shall be remembered for the extraordinary brightness of color in the plumage of birds we have seen. The gold finches, scarlet finches, cardinals and red breasted grosbeaks are noticeably brighter than in years past.  The clear skies and bright colors of birds and flowers is how we often think of spring.It may therefore seem a little odd then that in the Religio Romana the month of May is devoted … [Read more...]


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