Our Lady of the Redwoods

There is a monastery of Cistercian nuns in Northern California called "Our Lady of the Redwoods," and what a fitting title indeed for our Blessed Mother.  The Redwood, known as the Sequoia sempervirens (sounds similar to semper virgo, or ever-virgin), is the tallest tree on the planet, growing up to 300 feet and beyond.  It is also the oldest species of tree, dating back to 240 million years. 

The oldest Redwood in California is 2,200 years old.  Tannin is a chemical in the tree's bark that makes it resistant to insects, rotting, fires, and anything else that would cause disease.  And the tree's roots do not travel deep, but wide, spanning more than fifty feet in either direction, making it very difficult to be uprooted.  The tree literally waters itself, drinking from the clouds and the fog that enshroud its top level.  It will then drip water from its branches, providing sustenance for roots that spring from the canopy, creating almost a tree within a tree.  These canopies over the years, through the collection of needles, dust, and seeds, create a mossy soil-layer.  Researchers have found in these upper canopy layers crustaceans and salamanders and other creatures normally found in streams and oceans.

A Redwood requires time for growth.  It rises above the noise of the earth and listens calmly to the sky.  The first word in the Rule of Saint Benedict is "listen." Like a Redwood and a Cistercian nun or monk, Mary listens to her Master and thrives perpetually because of it.  The ever-Virgin, drinking from the Fount of Heaven that is the Holy Spirit, stands tall and strong in the Church.  Being near Mary, we will flourish and be able to reach God. 

back to top