The Ambarvalia

green grass field during sunset

Photo by David Jakab on

At the end of May, the Ambarvalia is held. This festival centers on asking the blessings of Mars and Ceres for the growing crops. Traditionally, a boar, a ram and a bull were sacrificed (Note 1). Modern Romans will offer meat from the store. During the Ambarvalia, the boundaries of the fields are walked with people making offerings of milk, honey and incense for Ceres and the meat for Mars.

As with other Roman festivals, the Ambarvalia was adapted by the Christian Church. Rogation Days, which precede Ascension Day, copies aspects of the Ambarvalia. Processions would go around to parish boundaries singing hymns. Along they way, they would stop at various fields to pray for God’s blessings on the new crops.

A Roman Prayer for Ambarvalia:

“Father Mars I pray and beseech You that You may be propitious and well-disposed to me, our home, and household, for which cause I have ordered the offering of pig, sheep, and ox to be led ‘round my field, my land, and my farm, that you might prevent, ward off, and avert diseases, visible and invisible; barrenness and waste; accident and bad water; that you would permit the crop and fruit of the earth, the vines and shrubs to grow great and prosper, that you would preserve the shepherds and their flocks in safety and give prosperity and health to me and our house and household. To this intent, to the intent of purifying my farm, my land, my ground, and of making an expiation, deign to accept the offering of these suckling victims.”
(from Nova Roma’s website)

Note 1: The suovetaurila is the triple sacrifice of principal livestock. Only Mars, Neptune and Apollo received this sacrifice.


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