|The Tale Of The Princess|
And the Crown of Thorns
THE PRINCESS AND THE CROWN OF THORNS
In days of old when the land was divided into many kingdoms, there was a kingdom called Frisia, an icy snowy country far to the north. The people of Frisia were very warlike and worshiped pagan gods of war. The chef god was Fosite, a god of vengeance and justice. The god Fosite would speak to his priest at the sacred oak tree in the midst of the land. This oak tree was venerated, and the site was considered most holy. Under its leaves marriages would take place, pledges made, and the sick would be placed for healing. The tree was beautiful and the strength of the oak was a reminder that the god Fosite was a warrior's god unyielding without mercy and swift to avenge.
The king had a daughter called Fostedina which means, The Darling Of Fosite. She was so named because of her wondrous beauty and comely disposition. With golden hair like sunlight, eyes blue like a summer sky, lips that were full and red she herself looked like a daughter of the old gods. Her beauty shadowed in the grace of her character for she was of such a sweet disposition that Frostedina was always sought as a companion. Her mind was sharp and with uncommon wisdom; Fostedina was barley a teen when she was asked to sit beside the king so he could receive her counsel as he made judgment.
One cold winter night some Christians came to the land of Frisia. They had a love of God in their hearts and a passion to tell the story of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for all mankind. In the cold these missionaries stopped under the shelter of the sacred oak tree, and finding broken dried branches on the ground they built a fire to keep warm. It blazed bright and high licking the very branches of the sacred oak. In the distance the castle guards saw the fire and sounded an alert. "They are trying to burn down our sacred tree!" Soon the entire countryside was filled with torches as warriors and Fostie's faithful rushed to the oak to avenge their god.
The troop of warriors and the priest of Fostie surrounded the Christians and bound them. "You were burning the sacred tree of our god." The priest said, "You will be thrown into the pit with the bears and wolves; but not tonight, we will wait until the full moon to celebrate our god and to deepen the hunger of the beast." The Christians were drug off despite their protest of innocence. Bound in a cage they could hear the bears and wolves howling in the nearby pit, it would be long days until the full moon.
About that time a traveling singer with a harp came to the land. He was invited to sing at the nightly feast for the king and his court. This was not the usual minstrel for he, too, was a believer in the Christian God. His songs were not of battle or hunt or vengeance on enemies, but he sung of one named Jesus. The minstrel sang of how Jesus walked among the poor and needy, how Jesus healed the sick and comforted those who despair. He sang how Jesus was betrayed by a trusted friend and how the Roman governor condemned him though finding no guilt in Jesus. He sang of the cross where Jesus died, the nails in his hands, and the crown of thorns given to mock him, and yet in his suffering He forgave his enemies.
|He sung of one named Jesus|
Fostedina's eyes filled with tears as she heard the stories of Jesus' love and compassion. She could hardly keep from crying out as the tale was told about the whipping, mockery and the torture. She covered her weeping face in her hands as the minstrel sang of the crucifixion. After hearing about the victory of the resurrection she rejoiced because by then she had become a believer. She had trusted Jesus, he was her savior now and she vowed a princess's vow to follow him and his way as long as she had breath.
Not all who heard the songs were so moved, at the words Jesus spoke from the cross saying, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do," the warriors roared with rage. The priest stood up and declared, "We do not forgive our enemies. We are vengeance. Tomorrow the Christians will be given to the wolves."
Fostedina was troubled that night. She loved Jesus now and was one of his. The Christians were his children too, she could not allow them to be thrown to the bear pit. That night she took a lamp and silently slipped from the castle. Going with the stealth common to her warrior people she came before the cage that held the Christians without giving any alarm to the wolves.
"Quickly, you must leave this place," She whispered. "Go back to the south-lands and never come here again. If you do come back you will die a more terrible death than that of the wolves."
The bear and the wolves roared and howled as the Christians trotted past the pit.
As dawn's grey light spread across the dark land the escape was discovered. The people were enraged that they were robbed of their sport. "Who let the Christians escape?" the king demanded.
Fostedina came and knelt before the king. "It was I who let them go. For I too am a Christian and could not allow my brothers to die."
The priest threatened her and vowed vengeance. Fostedina stood unmoved by their curses and threats; she would face the wolves and the bears. "I would rather die than deny my Jesus, I will gladly suffer as he did."
|The crown of iron thorns|
Anyone else would have taken the day as an opportunity to flee but she was a princess, and more- she was a Christian. Fostedina spent that day in prayer and readied herself for punishment. Remembering the prayer of Jesus in the garden she too prayed, "Father, if there is another way let this cup pass, but let your will be done not mine."
The sun rose over crowded city square. All Frisia came see the princess humiliated and tortured. The people were shocked at her beauty; for to make herself ready she put on the most pure white doeskin dress, her glorious hair hung in golden cascades, the ivory of her skin seemed to glow as she presented herself at her best for Jesus sake.
She knelt as the pagan priest brought the iron crown fashioned to his wicked design by the blacksmith. The crown bristled with long razor sharp spikes. Her blue eyes met his black eyes as she whispered "I forgive you." The priest rammed the thorny crown down on Fostdina's head. Red blood streamed out staining her face, hair, and dress as the priest gave it a twist of hatred. The people watched to see if she would cry out, beg for mercy, or call for help, but they were disappointed. Instead her eyes were set to heaven and her lips moved in prayer for her tormentors. Throughout the day the princess stood as people threw mud, filth, and stable droppings at her, they spit in her face and jeered insults to her. Each time she whispered the words of her Savior on the cross. "Father, forgive them." Many people were ashamed of their countrymen for treating her so, and many more were ashamed afterword of themselves for taking part.
|The priest rammed the crown on Fostdina's head|
The day slowly melted in afternoon haze as the sun set. Fostdina was faint with the loss of blood when she went to her cambers to be ministered to by her handmaid. The blood matted hair did not easily give up the iron crown and only after hours of soaking in water was the maid able to remove it. The cut flesh left jagged rows of raw skin and exposed bone.
Thereafter whenever the princess went about her royal duties or was seen in public all eyes were drawn to the horrible crisscross of scars on her brow and the raw patches of skin ringing her head. It was a testimony of her faithfulness to her God. Never did she speak with anger or bitterness but always had a gentle, humble, and loving spirit. As years passed the people's hearts were won by her Christian character and grace, and began to question the old gods; slowly the population became Christian. Churches were built in the land.
The old king died and Fostdina became queen. She ordered the sacred oak to be cut down and a church was built on its place. Her gracious nature became legend and suitors from all Europe sought her hand in marriage. She married a Christian prince and on her wedding day she wore a crown shaped like a golden helmet, and when it was on her head it covered the scars of the iron crown of thorns.
Frostina is still honored today in her land and each year she is celebrated by young maidens who don a golden helmet.
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