The “Ice Saints” are a group of saints long venerated in Catholic tradition as protectors against the last frosts of spring.

Celebrated on May 11, May 12, and May 13, these saints are St. Mamertus (or sometimes Boniface of Tarsus) St. Pancras, and St. Servatius, each associated with historical cold snaps that can endanger early plantings.

Gardeners, particularly in the northern European climates, heed to the popular piety surrounding these dates. The tradition holds that planting before the feast days of these saints risks exposure to a sudden frost, potentially ruining crops and flowers that were planted prematurely. By waiting until after May 13 to plant, gardeners reduce the risk of cold damage to their new seedlings and tender plants.

St. Mamertus, who died in 475, was a bishop of Vienne in Gaul, known for instituting the Rogation Days—processions and prayers for divine protection and blessings on the crops before Ascension Day. St. Pancras, martyred at 14 in 304 under Emperor Diocletian, is venerated for his steadfast faith despite severe persecution. St. Servatius, bishop of Tongeren, passed away in 384; he is noted for his role in providing refuge to St. Athanasius and prophesying the Hun invasions. St. Boniface of Tarsus, a martyr under the same Diocletian persecution as Pancras, died in 306 after refusing to renounce his faith and enduring torture.

Ice Saints, pray for us!


Photo credit: Llorenzi via Wikimedia Commons
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