Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Godly Legacy of Countess Juliana van Stolberg ~ Herbal Healer


It was Countess Juliana van Stolberg who ignited the inspiration for our "herbal" series. Some know her as the mother of "William of Orange", some knew her as Dr. Oma, while some (like the author of this blog) wished they had the opportunity to have known her… However, many years later, there is a lot which we (as wives and mothers) can still learn from her...



"Lavender: A reminder of your first herbal lesson.
It speaks to you of devotion and virtue-two things you will always need
if you are to become a true noblewoman.
It will cheer you on a gray day, with its purple colour,
and its aroma will add beauty to the room you sleep."



Countess Juliana van Stolberg (1506-1580), a gifted herbal healer, was given the endearing title, "Queen Mother of the Netherlands" by her people. She was responsible for raising her family of 17 to trust in the Lord. This teaching furthered a movement that led to religious freedom for the persecuted people of Holland and beyond.


Interesting facts about her life:
  • Juliana was raised a Roman Catholic but later converted to Lutheranism and then Calvinism.
  • Her first marriage lasted six years and after her husband's death, she married Willem von Nassau. They shared Protestant beliefs and taught them to their 17 children. This marriage lasted for 28 years until he passed away.
  • Juliana spent her time managing her large household (a castle to be exact!), growing herbs and tending to the needs of her family and nearby villagers with medicinal remedies created from her garden. She even had her own apothecary on the premises. There she stored her dried herbs and recipes which would be handcrafted into poultices, salves and teas.
  • Juliana and her husband also ran a school for the nobleman's children and she continued to run that alone as a widower, for the rest of her life.
  • She lived in turbulent times during the rule of King Philip II of Spain and therefore lost four of her five sons to the cause of religious freedom and independence for modern day Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg. (King Phillip wanted all his subjects to worship like himself, Roman Catholic, which was unfortunate for the vast Dutch Protestant population who were being persecuted because of their beliefs.) Juliana's son, William of Orange (also known as William the Silent) was basically the "George Washington" of Holland. She helped to fund this cause of freedom and sold many of the family treasures in order to accomplish it (eventually the Netherlands become independent in 1648).
  • Juliana was also a mentor to her grand-daughter Maria, who lived with her while her father (William of Orange) was at war and educated her in the arts of herbal healing. Her influence later caused Maria to form an orphan home in which she educated the young ladies there in the wisdom of natural cures.
  • Dr. Oma, as she was called by the local villagers (which means grandmother in Dutch) lived to be 74 years of age and died in her own bed in Dillenberg Castle with a legacy of 123 grandchildren.
Dillenburg Castle 1540, Home of Juliana van Stolberg

What is special about this woman, is that she knew the truth about reform. It starts in the family. She raised her 17 children with the Bible as their foundation. She instilled the conviction that man should should have "freedom of religion" (does this concept sound familiar?*). During a time in history when blood was spilled because of your faith, this teaching through her children flourished into a cause of liberty! This clearly shows the influence of mothers and the important ministry they have within the walls of their own little castle, called home.

* It is also interesting to note that some trace the ideals of religious freedom in America to this family's cause. The pilgrims (or puritans) left England and lived in Holland to avoid religious persecution prior to entering the "New World". While there they may have gleaned ideas from Holland and taken them on their journey to form a government which would respect all persons.

16 comments:

  1. Hi JES,

    I so enjoyed this little history lesson. (my favorite subject). It is so wonderful to see the effects on a mother in the home and beyond. I am going to research her a little more.
    Blessings,
    Amy Jo

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    1. Hi Amy Jo, History is my favorite subject too! I am glad you enjoyed this… Also, there is not a lot written about her in the English language that I found but there are two web-sources listed at the bottom of this post where I gleaned my information. Have a wonderful week!

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  2. I love this! History is my favorite as well!:)

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    1. I knew I liked you for a reason :)

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  3. I enjoyed this so much...very interesting...I have really enjoyed going thru and reading your blog, I have never been a "blog" person, but I find yours to be so differently wonderful than any other I have read, Thank You, as a Christian wife and mother and grandmother, I have the same belief that we are the foundation of our home and family, the better we educate our children and take care of our husband and our home, it has long lasting rewards...I have witnessed it in the way my own daughter is raising my 2 granddaughters and the importance of making her home and family a healthy and happy place to be....This was very interesting about the Countess, It has peaked my curiosity and I am now looking for any and everything I can find aout her to read....BTW..Not anonymous, I am Amy Jo Watson :)

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    1. Thank you Amy Jo for sharing your beliefs. It is very encouraging to hear when there is so much to the contrary going on right now. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of information about the Countess in the English language that I found. The two sources of information I gathered are listed on the last sentence at the bottom of this post. Happy homemaking! ~ JES

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  4. We read and loved the book Dr. Oma many years ago, and it has remained a favorite of several of us. I have a post partially written on the book and am just waiting for time to get back to it...She has been an inspiration for much of my interest in herbs and herbals, plus the book is so God-honoring!
    I love that we have such similar interests, sweet friend.

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  5. Hi JES,
    You've teached me a lot in this message. I'm from The Netherlands ans yes our William of Orange is the 'Father of our Country' like we say it (Vader des Vaderlands) but in general we don't know a thing about his mother! It's strange to see that you - in the US- know more about her then we do :-) I do appreciate it and hope to be able to read the book soon. You're comments about her influence on her children are encouraging. That's the one thing most of us do know: that William was deeply influenced by his protestant upbringing and even time at the katholic court couldn't reverse the opinions he made in his first youth. Thanks for this blog, very interesting. Greetings, Annemieke.

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    1. Thank you for sharing more information and confirming other information… The author, Ethel Herr did a lot of research. I wasn't able to find much on the internet about Juliana and gleaned most everything from the Dr. Oma book which I really hope you are able to get ahold of… Since you appreciate history, I know you will enjoy it :) It is geared for young ladies but I still found it very interesting...

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    2. Please note that Dillenburg is in the middle of Germany. Juliana was German and lived in Germany and this might be the reason why Dutch people do not know much about her. I lived in the Dillenburg-Siegen area and we were taught that the Oranjes (Dutch kings) and the princes/counts from Nassau-Siegen and Nassau-Dillenburg are related to each other. The Dillenburg castle was destroyed and today there is only one big tower (Wilhelmsturm) with a museum inside. In this large family there have been many true believers. Maybe I will be able to get that Dr. Oma book in Germany.
      Best regards, Rike

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    3. Very interesting! That would make sense... Thank you for sharing Rike! The Kindle version is available through the link of the book above that you may be able to download. Have a lovely week!

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  6. Hi JES,
    You've teached me a lot in this message. I'm from The Netherlands ans yes our William of Orange is the 'Father of our Country' like we say it (Vader des Vaderlands) but in general we don't know a thing about his mother! It's strange to see that you - in the US- know more about her then we do :-) I do appreciate it and hope to be able to read the book soon. You're comments about her influence on her children are encouraging. That's the one thing most of us do know: that William was deeply influenced by his protestant upbringing and even time at the katholic court couldn't reverse the opinions he made in his youth. Thanks for this blog, very interesting. Greetings, Annemieke.

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  7. Hello JES,
    Finished Ethel Herr's Dr Oma book today. What a real book it is, I was there with Oma Juliana & Maria, I could feel what they felt, see what they saw. Cried my eyes out at the end, didnt want it to finish. Such strong faith and complete glory to God. Sensational book & real life story, oh to have been in Maria's shoes. How blessed to be able to walk alongside Maria & look forward to walking alongside Maria again at some other time. Thankyou for recomending it. Blessings & Peace xx

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    1. Thank you for sharing this with me! I am so glad you enjoyed the book! I thought it very sweet and it inspired me to want to pass down the little legacies of interest I have down to my children and grandchildren (one day)! Her faith was truly inspiring...

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  8. Greetings from the UK

    Thank you for this informative bio on the Countess. As a former medical Dr turned novice wife mother and homemaker, you have resourced me immensely and Dr Oma is an inspiration!

    Wonderful blog,

    Renee

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