Ladybirds are named after The Virgin Mary. The name originated in Britain with, "Our lady's bird". There doesn't seem anything concrete to illustrate why there is this association. Some say it's because Mary is often wearing red in "early paintings”. However she also seemed fond of blue! The seven black spots on the ladybird's shell are said to represent Mary's seven joys and sorrows.
In an age of faith, you can see how an association with Christ's mother might come about. Medieval people used to think that earth mirrored heaven, the ladybird was thought to be a symbol of our lady, and because the ladybird eats pests (most notably aphids) she was seen as a protector of people and their food supply.
It is amazing that the association with Our Lady goes across borders. In England its "Our Lady's Bird"; in Germany, "Mary's chicken"; in France, "God's Animal"; and in Spanish, "Gods little cow".
Why is this? Well maybe it's because folk living in rural areas would have all known that other animals leave the ladybird well alone. It produces a nasty yellowish fluid which it discharges in time of danger! Therefore it goes about its business unmolested. One might be forgiven for thinking there was some divine protection at play here.
In conclusion, people may have seen a similarity in the creature's charmed life to the preservation of Our Lady from sin.
See my ladybird design available as a greetings card and art print
And the others in the DM Bugs and Butterflies collection
Image © Daniel Mackie
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There’s a lot of ancient mythical beasts which seem pretty isolated, unique to a country’s culture, or even to a specific region. Others, like mermaids, dragons, and giants, are intercultural, being known by many. The Phoenix is one of these mythical superstars, and was known by the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, and even by the Chinese.
In the year 1500 BC, the Israelites who had settled in Egypt had significantly grown in numbers. So much so that the Pharaoh at the time grew fearful of them: paranoid that they would eventually take over. Forgetting that it was actually an Israelite by the name of Joseph - yes, the guy with the groovy coat - who had guided the Egyptian people away from famine a few hundred years earlier, the Pharaoh made all the Israelites slaves. Things then took a most heinous turn when the Pharaoh ordered the midwives to drown all male Hebrew babies at birth.