Once upon a time, a family of peasant serfs lived next to a church named The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (“Maria Geburt”, in the terse language of the foreigners who ruled their country). They were very devout and dearly wanted to have a girl named Maria to honor the blessed virgin.
Their first three children were boys, and two of them died in infancy. The fourth, born in January 1840, was a girl! Without question, they named her Maria. But alas, little Maria died too, aged 17 months. The priest, who didn’t know much about medicine, wrote down “natural causes” as the cause of death. The family must have been very sad.
Then by some miracle, exactly two years later (January 1842), another daughter was born! She too was named Maria, and the family hoped for the best.
This Maria was strong, and while many of her relatives perished in the great Cholera pandemic of 1847 and the terrible famine years that followed, she survived. Maria grew up to become my great-great-grandmother, Maria Pregnar, whose daughter emigrated to Canada.
I expect I’ll have to write more about her soon.