Saint Hedwig: Bloody Footprints in the Snow

Footprints in the snow St. Hedwig

Saint Hedwig was a duchess in Silesia, an area that overlaps current-day Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. Even in the depths of winter, she insisted on showing her humility by walking to church in her bare feet.

In the upper portion of this miniature image, a servant woman points in horror to the bloody footprints left behind as Hedwig walked in the snow. Below, the saint inflicts wounds on her own back, and then she appears again, clenching her fists in anticipation of the blows. In this way, Hedwig sought to prove her willingness to suffer pain for her faith. Self-inflicted pain was seen in the Middle Ages as a voluntary form of penance, a way of understanding and participating in the Passion of Christ.

There is more to the Saint Hedwig story, for example, testimonies of miraculous changes of water into wine.  For the details on that, check the links.

Primary Source: http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=4372

See also:  http://history.vusiem.com/item272.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/transcripts/episode57/

Barefoot on Holy Ground – A Lesson from the Torah

Image

(Excerpt from: “Walking barefoot: Jewish lessons in leadership” by Rabbi Joel Seltzer / Jewish World blogger     | Jan. 6, 2013.)

 

“This whole barefoot theory is nothing new. No, quite to the contrary. In this past week’s Torah portion we read of the first time someone was advised to remove their shoes in order to be in touch with the ground more completely; the person who took off their shoes was Moses, and the advice-giver was God.

In this past week’s parasha, Parashat Shemot, Moses encounters the Presence of God for the first, but certainly not the last, time. While he is tending to his father-in-law’s flock, he stumbles upon Mt. Horev, and there Moses sees the miraculous vision of the burning bush. It is during this moment of theophany when God asks what may seem like an unusual request:

God says: “Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)

The commentators are puzzled by this request. Why does God ask Moses to remove his shoes? Is it because there was a line in the sand? Is it because our shoes are naturally dirty and therefore unfit to be in the presence of God?

One possible answer comes from the Hasidic Rebbe, the “Ollalot Ephraim.” He writes:

         ‘The world beneath our feet is always filled with small stones and debris. When we wear shoes, we easily walk upon all sorts of small things which stand in our way; in fact we barely notice them. But, when we walk barefoot, we feel every single stone and pebble, every kotz vedardar, every thorn and every thistle, every last rock hurts us. And this then is the hinted meaning of the text: To Moses, the preeminent leader of the people Israel, God said: “Shal na’alekha” “take off your shoes,” meaning, the leader of each and every generation needs to be aware of every barrier, every experience of suffering that is placed upon the way. A leader must feel the pain of the people, and must be sensitive to their every suffering.’

This is the meaning of true leadership; understanding the power that comes when we walk barefoot through our lives. When, instead of ignoring the pain and suffering of others that abounds, we make ourselves vulnerable to it. When, instead of choosing a life of padding and cushion, we understand that we were meant to feel every rock and every pebble, every thorn and every thistle of the ground beneath our feet.”

 

For the full article, refer to:

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/rabbis-round-table/walking-barefoot-jewish-lessons-in-leadership.premium-1.492180

 

Photo Source: http://africaisnear.blogspot.com/2009/04/take-off-your-shoes.html

Feeling Concrete (or Snow) Under His Toes

Image

Journalist Thane Burnett went barefoot to feel the true grit of Toronto’s streets. He was a neophyte to the unshod lifestyle; his 10 little ‘piggies’ were always wrapped up tight while going to market — or anywhere else. For this one-day experiment on the pavement, he walked with Barefoot Moe, an expert on the ropes (and over the cracks).

Their conversation and the bare bottom walkabout did not convert the journalist.  He certainly did his research, presenting facts and anecdotes on the increasing popularity of going barefoot. However, as he walked he glanced enviously at the shoes on a homeless man and at the tiny ones on a baby. The article gives clear voice to Barefoot Moe’s enthusiasm. But, once the journalist was alone, he frantically washed his feet in an office washroom sink and quickly donned his black-leather shoes.  Once a shoddie, always a shoddie? 

No flip flopping in this story.

 

Adapted from:  http://www.theobserver.ca/2009/08/25/barefooters-take-to-the-road

Photo Source of Barefoot Moe:  https://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=barefoot+Moe+images&gbv=2&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ei=cyxDU9noD4a9yAGHsoGwBw&ved=0CBsQsAQ