Translation and coloring pages copyright Rebecca Górzyńska 2017, for non-commercial use only.
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Queen of Heaven: Legends of the Mother of God
Królowa Niebios: Legendy o Matce Boskiej
By Marian Gawalewicz (1894), translated from the Polish by Rebecca Górzyńska.
Coloring pages drawn from original illustrations by Piotr Stachiewicz.
A new edition of this book in Polish, with illustrations by Piotr Stachiewicz, can be purchased here.
Chapter I – The Maid of the Flower
When there was nothing on earth besides sky and water – God alone flew over the waters in the dark, empty air…
There was no land, there were no stars, not a single living creature.
Then amongst this endless, deaf, gloomy desert sounded the voice of God:
“Devil, dive down to the bottom of the sea and bring me a handful of sand!”
Out of curiosity, the evil spirit asked, “What for?” and he waited for the answer before plunging in.
“Don’t ask,” again resounded the voice of the Creator. “Just go to the bottom of the sea, take a handful of sand, and say, ‘Bless it, O God!’”
The waters seethed and hissed as if a kindled firebrand had fallen into them when the devil, angry that God withheld secrets from him, threw himself into the depths of the sea.
But to spite the Creator, he swam out and again asked, “What do you want with this sand, God?”
“Go and do what I have commanded you!” God’s voice sounded sharply.
The evil spirit rolled like an avalanche into the sea, but yet again he did not fulfill the command, but, consumed with curiosity, he bubbled to the surface with the same question.
Then the Creator said to him:
“Behold, from this sand I will make earth, form people, and give them this earth to live in; so, now you know why I need the sand, go and bring it instantly from the bottom of the sea!”
The devil, staring down, slid like a snake into the smooth, quiet waters of eternal sleep, and then into eternal darkness; and he began to descend deeper and deeper. As he sank, he thought to himself, “I will cheat God. I will have my own earth – I will make it myself; I’ll stuff a bit of sand in my teeth and claws so He won’t see it. One handful I’ll give to Him, and the rest I’ll keep for myself.”
And that’s what he did.
When he swam out of the deep, he kept his mouth closed, because he was afraid if he opened it to speak, the sand would spill out and betray him before the Creator; but his eyes blazed with happiness, because, so he thought, as soon as the Lord God left, he would have his own personal world, his own earth, and his own people.
The Lord God took the sand from the bottom of the sea in His holy hands, blessed it, and squeezed it onto the surface of the water; and suddenly the lumps and grains of sand began to grow, sticking to each other, and covering the waters with an earthy crust.
At the same time, the grains of sand in the devil’s mouth also began to swell and grow, so he had to spit out the sand violently so he wouldn’t choke on his evil and his head wouldn’t explode. He snorted and coughed and choked and spat, and wherever the devil’s spit mud landed in water, lakes, or fens, cursed islands and clumps appeared, which to this day people avoid.
But by then the Lord God already had the earth and the sky ready, so He created beautiful angels; but, puffed up with pride and thinking themselves as gods, they were lost in the abyss, into which, with a roar of horrible anger and despair, they fell down forty days and nights without ceasing.
After the fall of the angels God created the first person, Adam, in Paradise. He was a giant and a great athlete: such a titan that he thought it nothing to take a strong tree and rip it up by the roots, as if it were a feeble blade of grass.
The greatest animals walked beside him in fright and lowered their heads at the sight of the giant. They didn’t dare harm him, because he was stronger than they, and had a hard, horny hide which neither tooth nor claw could puncture.
But alone, the man was sad, even in Paradise.
Then the Lord God decided to give him a companion. He breathed her out of the flowers of Paradise, and like a lily pure and white, her scent light and beautiful drifted from the form of the maiden, eyes downcast, she who was made from the most thankful, the most clean, the most beautiful creations that Paradise could offer.
Then the Lord God led the Maid of the Flower to Adam.
Wherever she went, Paradise shone brighter, because even in the daylight all the stars raced into the sky so as to behold her; and it became even more perfumed, because the earth breathed out scents of delight in her presence.
And everything that had breath and power of voice, from the flies buzzing over the waters to the winged singers of the air, took part in a hymn in praise of God and to the honor of the Maid.
Adam alone stood indifferent and unfeeling, because she was too slender for him, too delicate, too misty and cloudy; he couldn’t even imagine how to begin with such a companion, or how he could possibly be her partner.
He was made from veined rock, she from flower-buds blown away.
God then recognized that his thick nature was not suited to such a maiden and that her hour had not yet come, so He took the Maid of the Flower to Himself, and for Adam He shaped another, more suitable companion, similar to him in both body and appearance, bone of his bone: from his rib He formed Eve.
And Adam smiled for the first time when he saw her; he rejoiced, knowing that from this time onward he should never be alone, because he had another person with which to share Paradise for his whole life and eternity.
And so God hid away the Maid in her glory and immaculate purity, and gave her another purpose: He gave her to be the Mother of His Son.
She alone, most beautiful and clean, was allowed to remain in Paradise, until the time when human race, marked by the Original Sin of the first man, sentenced to labor, toil, and death, should need redemption, so that the Son of God could come to earth and be born of the Virgin, and He finally set fallen humanity to rest upon the wood of the Cross.
Through Adam’s Eve the evil serpent slithered after man from Paradise to the earth; but through Christ’s Mary he was trodden on by her maidenly foot.
From clay and bones the mother of the human race was made, but from the flowers of Paradise the Mother of the God-Man was made; and like a flowery perfume He breathed from her soul renewal over the earth, to the souls of mortals that had been condemned.
After the mother of Cain had passed, after ages upon ages had passed, the Mother of Christ came to the earthly vale: and next to the altar of Abel stood the Suffering Cross of Redemption.