History for the Rest of Us

Matralia – In Honor of Mater Matuta

Matralia – In Honor of Mater Matuta

Jun 11, 2012

The Matralia was celebrated on the 11th of June in honor of Mater Matuta. Mater Matuta was the goddess of growth, childbirth, motherhood, and the raising of children. Mothers were honored on this day by their husbands and children.

Sacred Rites at the Temple of Mater Matuta
Roman matrons would bring their nieces and nephews with them to the temple of Mater Matuta. One slave was admitted into the temple, and given a blow on the cheek and then sent away. The matrons would then embrace their nieces and nephews and pray for their well-being. This was done to symbolically reinforce to the mothers that they should care for their nieces and nephews as well as their own children and shouldn’t leave them to careless slaves. Sacrifices were made to the goddess in the form of testuacia (sacred cakes) cooked in testu (earthenware). A univira (wife of a first marriage) would then crown the statue of Mater Matuta with a garland.

Temple of Mater Matuta

Artist's rendering of the Temple of Mater Matuta

This holiday was one of the dies nefasti, a day on which no legal action could take place.