"Lavender: A reminder of your first herbal lesson.
It speaks to you of devotion and virtue-two things you will always need
if you are to become a true noblewoman.
It will cheer you on a gray day, with its purple colour,
and its aroma will add beauty to the room you sleep."
~Oma (Countess Juliana von Stolberg)
Countess Juliana von Stolberg (1506-1580), a gifted herbal healer, was given the endearing title, "Queen Mother of the Netherlands" by her people. She was responsible for raising her family of 17 to trust in the Lord which furthered a movement that led to religious freedom for the persecuted people of Holland and beyond.
Interesting facts about her life:
- Juliana was raised a Roman Catholic but later converted to Lutheranism and Calvinism.
- Her first marriage lasted six years and after her husband's death, she remarried Willem von Nassau in which they shared Protestant beliefs and taught them to their 17 children. This marriage lasted for 28 years until he passed away.
- Juliana spent her time managing her large household (a castle to be exact!), growing an herb garden and tending to the needs of her family and nearby villagers with medicinal remedies created from her herbs. She even had her own apothecary on the premises in which she stored her dried herbs and recipes that would be lovingly turned into poultices, salves and teas. Juliana and her husband also ran a school for the nobleman's children and she continued to run that alone as a widower, for the rest of her life.
- She lived in turbulent times during the rule of King Philip II of Spain and therefore lost four of her five sons to the cause of religious freedom and independence for modern day Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg. (King Phillip wanted all his subjects to worship like himself, Roman Catholic, which was unfortunate for the vast Dutch Protestant population who were being persecuted because of their beliefs.) Juliana's son, William of Orange (also known as William the Silent) was basically the "George Washington" of Holland (and was later assassinated because of his stances). She helped to fund this cause and sold many of the family treasures in order to accomplish it (eventually the Netherlands become independent in 1648).
- Juliana was also a mentor to her grand-daughter Maria, who lived with her while her father (William of Orange) was at war and taught her in all the arts of healing with herbs. Her godly influence later caused Maria to form an orphan home in which she would also educate the young ladies there in the wisdom of natural cures.
- Dr. Oma, as she was called by the local villagers (which means grandmother in Dutch) lived to be 74 years of age and died in her own bed in Dillenberg Castle with a legacy of 123 grandchildren.
|Dillenburg Castle 1540, Home of Juliana von Stolberg|
It is also interesting to note that some trace the ideals of religious freedom in America to this family's cause. The pilgrims (puritans) left England and lived in Holland to avoid religious persecution. While there they must have gleaned from the ideas of freedom in Holland and taken them to the New World to form a government who would respect all persons.
Dr. Oma ~ The Healing Wisdom of Countess Juliana von Stolberg (Chosen Daughter Series). I recommend this book for ages 12 and up because of some of the content. There is the subject of adultery and insanity in the stepmother that might be confusing to younger readers. Another point I would discuss with my daughter is that the secondary character (Maria the granddaughter) married a man whom was an alcoholic and that does warrant a conversation. Beyond that, it is a very educational and endearing read of a grandmother passing on her godly faith and healing knowledge down to her granddaughter along with the history of the Dutch people. I especially appreciated the medicinal healing parts in this book because I think that is an important art that our young women would benefit from and I hope that this book would create a desire to learn more in this area.