Bread And Roses

The city of Lawrence, Massachusetts was founded in the mid-1800’s by some venture businessmen who bought some private land from two neighboring towns on the Merrimack River. They set up a dam on the river, dug out a canal, and opened the space up for other businessmen to build textile factories. Immigrants from countries all over Europe immigrated to work in the textile mills, which were some of the biggest in the world. Lawrence has had more immigrants than any other city its size on the planet, and became known as Immigrant City. Founded by industrialists, its city motto is “Industria” – Industry. And along with the nearby city of Lowell, Lawrence was the poster city for the industrial culture of the North in the nation’s Civil War.

But the utopian dream wasn’t all that utopian for the workers. Hard labor conditions, separation from families, unsafe working conditions. Whatever people were paid, their rent was the same. And many workers were women and children.

And so, one of the most famous and influential labor strikes in American history occurred in Lawrence in 1912. It was led and organized primarily by women. And it worked.

The laborers got the higher wages and better working conditions. They won.

OK, where am I going with all this? Well, after the strike, a poem was written about the strike and a melody put to it. It was called “Bread and Roses”, and although there’s no firm evidence that the women actually said it, it’s claimed that many of the women took up a chant:

“We want bread, but we want roses too!”

The strike is called “The Bread and Roses Strike”. It’s when women led the demand for roses to go with bread. It’s when they insisted from the world on mercy for humanity to go along with the necessity of labor. And they got it.


About 5 years later, in 1917, during the First World War, three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal they encountered a beautiful Lady from Heaven. She had a message of change for the world: to pray the rosary, to practice mercy, and to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart. God wanted to set her Heart next to the Heart of Jesus. God wanted us to have Bread – and roses too. For this, the Lady promised peace – and victory.

In the Our Father, we ask God for certain things. We ask Him for our daily bread. Then, we ask Him to forgive us. We want bread, but we want roses, too.

Whenever life has become hard, if it feels like it’s all necessities, like you’re a hamster on the treadmill, or a slave in a mill, turn to Mary. She will lead the way against all the stuff that holds you backShe will lead the way against all the stuff that holds you back, so you can have bread and roses. She will give you peace – and victory.

In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” (Our Lady of Fatima)

Happy Solemnity weekend of the Two Hearts!


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